V8 Supercar Crash Test – Full Story


High-speed side impact accidents in closed car racing are the subject of ongoing FIA Institute research.

Following occurrences of this type of accident in Australian V8 Supercar racing, the FIA Institute has worked in close collaboration with the championship and the Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety (AIMSS) to help prevent driver injury. Ultimately, outcomes from this style of research influence FIA Technical Regulations with regard to ROPS and side intrusion specification which in turn, flows as appropriate through the wider motorsport community.

(see Video below)



To assist with this, the Institute has created a ‘blueprint’ of a side impact accident that can be replicated, in pursuit of further safety improvements.

In one of the most significant pieces of research conducted by the Institute, the previously accident-damaged Australian V8 saloon of Paul Weel – rebuilt to a nominal racing specification – was crashed at 100km/h into an instrumented wall. The wall was covered with an array of load cells to meet the full width and height of the impacting V8 Supercar, and allow detailed data capture of the event. The resulting information was sufficiently precise to permit analysis of the separate effects of chassis and engine collisions.

The technical configuration of Australian V8 supercars – a saloon chassis built around a large, heavy, front-and longitudinally-mounted V8 engine – presents particular safety challenges, notably the amount of energy contained by the fast-moving engine mass. Institute tests have shown that during a 100km/h impact (equivalent to a car moving at 200km/h hitting a stationary vehicle) the engine impact force was 3,000 Kilonewtons, or 300 tonnes’ force, with the engine stopping at close to 500G deceleration.


The impact force of the car structure was approximately one-third of the engine impact force, allowing Institute and AIMSS researchers to conclude that safety improvements could focus on resisting the effect of engine impact forces.

Research has been led by FIA Institute Technical Advisor Andy Mellor, working closely with Paul Taylor and Dr Michael Henderson of AIMSS. Henderson is also a fellow of the FIA Institute.

Mellor said: “Side impact accidents can happen at very high speed if one car is stranded and the other car is unable to avoid it, so we have been simulating a 200 km/h real-world impact speed. That equates to a change in velocity of 100km/h: if one car is hitting and one car is stationary, then after the impact both cars will be moving at 100km/h.

“We wanted to see the load and stress distribution of the front of the car and how aggressive this was. We also wanted to understand how much energy the front structures of a V8 Supercar can absorb.”

As the accompanying video shows, the AIMSS-prepared crash-test car was extensively damaged in the 100km/h head-on impact, but the data it has provided has allowed a new impact sled to be built, with a surrogate V8 engine, that replicates the effect of a V8 Supercar ‘bullet’ vehicle hitting a ‘target’ vehicle.

Tests carried out subsequently, with the surrogate sled, have led to the development and testing of stronger, more efficient side-impact structures.

Testing will continue in 2012, with the research also being directed towards the FIA Championships including the World Touring Car and GT championships.


Watch the Video – See the impact sled test (Story provided V8Xtra – Seven Network)



For Further Information:

FIA Institute link