Apparently, F1 teams rant on about the importance of ‘heat management’ all the time, saying that it’s the biggest single most important factor to consider when racing. I say ‘apparently’ because personally I don’t watch F1 (if I’m honest it bores me. Besides, I’m far too busy in the workshop building a race car to watch TV!), but the sentiment is bang-on. When building a race car, how you deal with the vast amounts of heat produced when driving flat-out in anger is one of the biggest issues you need to face.
That’s why I’m not taking any chances with the RS500, and have spent the last few weeks adding extra coolers to make sure that nothing gets too hot. Starting with the engine itself, we’ve made a couple of upgrades to help manage the heat. Firstly, the huge T4 turbo isn’t water-cooled (as on a race car this can have the adverse effect of heating the cooling system, rather than cooling the turbo), so the turbo relies entirely on the oil running though it to keep cool. Obviously an oil cooler of some kind is needed. But what I’ve actually done, and was originally done on the RS500 BTCC cars, is to utilise two engine oil coolers, one on other side of the front bumper. We use an adapter plate on the block to re-locate a remote oil filter on the chassis lag (makes access easier for regular changes), and then the pipework flows into the first oil cooler, then across the front of the car into the second coler, before looping back to the adapter on the block. This, coupled with the big-wing sump, means this car actually carries 10-litres of engine oil. It may be extra weight, but as having more oil means it won’t heat up as quickly, it’s well worth it.
But it’s not just the oil that gets hot; oil in the gearbox and diffs also need consideration. When you’ve got 550bhp fighting through fat slick tyres, it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of stress on all of the drivetrain components, and these get hot. Therefore, both the gearbox and diff have their own dedicated oil coolers – Setrab 13-row jobbies that I’ve mounted in the space between the rear floor and the rear beam. I’ve then fabricated some neat little shrouds from alloy that will guide air through the coolers to ensure they work as efficiently as they can. The oil is pumped through these coolers via dedicated pumps; an electric unit mounted externally for the rear diff, and a gear-driven pump housed in a sandwich plate between the bellhousing and gearbox for the transmission.
It doesn’t stop there either; as well as internal heat in the oil, racing also generates a lot of radiated heat too, especially in the engine bay. We’ve all read about the power-sapping effects of heat-soak, so I’ve fabricated an air box from alloy to shroud the fre4sh incoming air from any heat radiated by the turbo and engine. Taking things a step further, I’ve also fabricated a custom turbo heat shield from alloy too. This will hopefully help protect sensitive areas of wiring/brake fluid/etc, as well as also helping to reduce the under-bonnet temperatures too.
After all this work, and with the stress of getting ready for a rapidly-approaching race date mounting, the only thing that needs a cooler now is me! It’s been a battle, but the finish line (or should that be start line?) is in sight now, must keep pushing…