Wind Tunnel Extreme Plans Announced
August 17, 2007 | 1:24 P.M. EST
This project will help provide teams from all motorsports disciplines an "unfair advantage" in aerodynamic development. The core of this program will be the most advanced automotive wind tunnel in the world, utilizing technology that is not available today even to Formula 1 teams.
Wind Tunnel eXtreme was created to address the scarcity of high-tech wind tunnel time in the United States. Slated to open in the third quarter of 2009, it will be a full-scale, world-class facility available to customers on a membership basis.
It will also be the world's only wind tunnel specifically designed for multiple-car testing, and the only customer wind tunnel in the world with the "TALINGZ®" option added to a single-belt MTS rolling-road system. It will have full-scale testing capability, reach wind and road speeds of up to 180-mph (80 m/s), and feature best-in-class adaptive wall wind tunnel technology.
Wind Tunnel eXtreme is in the process of finalizing the location of the project in the Charlotte area. An announcement of the exact site is expected to be made in early September.
"It’s the most advanced wind tunnel in the world," said automotive engineer and marketing consultant Kristen Helsel, the primary principal behind the project. "When it's built it will be designed specifically to do things that have never been available in wind tunnels in the past, including multiple-car testing.
"Eighteen months ago I traveled the world looking at the best wind tunnels, and I discovered that the United States was woefully behind any type of offering that Europe and Japan had," added Helsel. "And so I realized there was this huge need for a wind tunnel of this kind for racing, but also for the automotive industry. Both industries are vital to the economy, so it is important for an instrument of this caliber to be available to various automotive companies and motorsports entities to have the ability to do this type of testing.
"It's applicable not only to racing, but also corporate average fuel economy and things that are going to be pressing the car industry and our nation for years to come," continued Helsel. "By building a facility of this type, which when built will be the most advanced automotive wind tunnel in the world, we bring that technology right here to the U.S. without having to fly to Europe or anywhere else.
"It's a great opportunity to bring something like this to the state of North Carolina."
WTX partner Donald A. Babb, real-estate developer, professional corporate manager and former CEO of a number of companies, agreed. "No. 1, it's a first-class project, and, No. 2, it fulfills a need in the sport and business that we love. It will be the most technically advanced wind tunnel in the world when it's completed, but more importantly, it will yield the best available results for the user, whether they are a race team or an OEM.
"Ms. Helsel brings immense experience and talent to this effort," Babb continued. "And the other partners have all headed up successful businesses. Businesses, I might add, that put the customer first. A lot of companies give lip service to that, but we intend to practice it. It will not be 'build it and they will come,' it will be 'we're going to build what they need and invite their participation.'"
Other partners behind the WTX project include investors Rick Barlow, and Brad Forsythe, a risk management consultant and author of "Bulletproof Your Business – cutting risk for small company owners and managers."
By making this announcement here at Michigan International Speedway, the closest the NASCAR community comes to the U.S. home of the automotive industry, WTX is able to showcase both the power and the applicability of this technology to the future of both production cars and motorsports.