A snow sledge designed to beat the world speed record has been tested by Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) at its 30,000m2 high-performance testing and development facility in Cologne, Germany.
“We are more used to testing Le Mans or Formula 1 racing cars, so this was a new, exciting challenge for us,” said Antonio Pavesi, head of the wind tunnel at TMG. “This is the first time we have had a model of a sledge here. The requirements are quite different, but we use the same kind of equipment.”
The sledge is the brainchild of Snowspeed, a Norwegian team of designers and speed enthusiasts. Their goal is to beat the world speed record in a gravity powered snow sledge designed to reach 250km/h (155 mph).
The current world speed record is held by the British television personality, motorbiker and lorry mechanic Guy Martin. In 2014, he piloted a sledge at 134.36km/h (83.49 mph).
The snow sledge that was tested in TMG’s wind tunnel is a 50% scale model. Aerodynamic testing in the wind tunnel delivers data gathered with the same sort of hi-tech equipment that is used to test road and race cars.
Mounted to an overhead strut and with a continuous rolling road under the skis, the wind was turned on and gradually increased to test how the Snowspeed sledge behaves at speed. The wind speed reached 40m/s and stabilised, with TMG’s advanced wind tunnel systems recording sideforce, downforce, drag, roll, pitch and yaw through sensors in the strut.
The data helps the designer continue to improve the sledge in order to minimise drag and maximise speed. Moreover, it aids the fine-tuning of the sledge design to ensure it remains balanced in response to forces such as headwind and turbulence. In addition, analysis of the data helps with the creation of a sledge that is stable at speed, by ensuring there is equal side force on either side of the sledge.
Data on the three movements - roll, pitch and yaw - was also generated in TMG’s wind tunnel. This helps the Snowspeed designers identify how to best position the sledge on the skis. During testing, the base of Snowspeed’s skis were covered in Teflon to reduce friction against the rolling road that rotated beneath it.
The Snowspeed sledge was penned by Oslo-based designers Nima Shahinian and Anders Aannestad. To date, the team has built three prototypes.
“The first prototype was a full size model based on our 3D computer design work. The second was a 25% scale clay model. This model, the third prototype, was created specifically to be tested in the wind tunnel,” said Nima Shahinian, head of design at HOOS Design Lab in Oslo.
“We will improve the design further over the next few weeks and aim to complete the final sledge in the next few months, ready for an attempt at the world speed record in 2017.”
The Snowspeed team will attempt to beat the world speed record in a gravity powered snow sledge during the 2016/17 season.
“Speed skiers already exceed 250km/h. The current speed skiing record is held by Simone Origone, who reached 252.45 km/h (157 mph) in 2014. Our sledge will be heavier and more aerodynamic than a skier, so we believe we can go even faster,” said Jorn Madslien, member of the Snowspeed team.
“That’s considerably faster than the terminal velocity of a free-falling skydiver in the belly-to-earth position, which is 190 km/h (120 mph),” said Tom Ruud, member of the Snowspeed team.
Guinness World Records: Guy Martin world speed record in a gravity powered snow sledge:
Nima Shahinian Snowspeed designer
Tel +47 944 28 003 (Norway)
Member of the Snowspeed team
Tel +44 452 54 233 (Norway)
Member of the Snowspeed team
Tel +44 7968 582 798 (UK)
Marketing & Communications Manager, TMG