Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Is A Single Seater?

I love single seater racecars. You see single seater racecars on the TV in Formula One and Indy Car, but how do they differ from the humble road car? Here’s what goes on under the sleek fiberglass skin. Here’s a nice side profile shot of a Formula Ford that’s slated to race in next year’s championship. Isn’t it pretty and hasn’t it come a long way since I owned one?

If we start from the front and work back, what have we got?

There’s not a lot at the pointy end. There are the pedals, the steering rack, front shock absorbers and the driver’s feet.
Then you get to the driver, who his lying on a mounted fiberglass seat (not very comfy). Underneath the driver’s knees is the fire extinguisher. At his sides are the radiator pods. Now there’s no fan to help cool the car down when it isn’t running. That’s the tricky things about single seaters. They’re like sharks. When they stop moving, they die. The driver’s seat is propped up against the bulkhead for the gas tank (which is a rubber bag). After the gas tank, we get to the good stuff—the engine. That’s bolted directly to the chassis to become part of the chassis (Thanks John Cooper and Colin Chapman). A bellhousing comes next that connects the gearbox to the engine and which the rear suspension connects to.

And there you have it—a single seater racecar from front to back. Sounds simple and it is. I do love the simplicity of them. Where the complexity comes in is in their adjustability. Ride heights, springs, gear ratios can be changed or adjusted at the drop of a hat, but change the car’s characteristics by miles. It’s where great engineering meets great fun.

Yours drooling,

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