Developing parts for road cars vs. race cars


Road cars and race cars are very different. The cars we buy for every day driving are much heavier, due in part to safety and emissions equipment. Race cars shed every ounce of weight in the pursuit of speed.

But those aren't the only differences. In some ways, road cars that are meant to last for years or even decades, must be more robust than race cars that must last a season or maybe even just a few races.

And yet, race cars need parts that can handle the rigors of track duty and constant tear-downs and rebuilds. 

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So how do companies engineer and develop parts for road cars versus race cars? Engineering Explained is here to break it down.

In this video, our friendly host Jason Fenske visits with TE Connectivity to see how it develops electrical connectors for race cars and road cars.

TE's racing connectors are designed to be mated and unmated up to 500 times and withstand temperatures up to 175 degrees Celsius. By comparison, road car connectors can be mated and unmated 10-15 times and withstand up to 120 degrees Celsius.

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The difference comes down to materials choices. Road cars tend to use plastics, while race cars get more substantial aluminum and sturdier connectors.

Another issue is wiring harnesses. Many road cars are switching to aluminum instead of copper for their wires to save weight. However, aluminum doesn't bend or handle vibration as well, so race cars are sticking with copper.

Still, racing is always looking for ways to make parts smaller and lighter, so the materials may change in the future.

For a more complete explanation of these issues, click on the video above and Jason will put it in easy-to-understand terms, as he always does.

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