Engineers at Sheffield Hallam University have helped the British mechanical TV star Guy Martin to break another world speed record.
The presenter of Speed, a Channel 4 TV program, bolted down a road on Mont Ventoux in southern France at 85.61mph in a motorless vehicle specially designed to fit him.
Christina King from the Centre for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam told EngineeringBecause: “North One TV contacted the Centre for Sports Engineering Research originally in 2013 to work on the first series of Speed with Guy Martin.
“Here the team smashed the Guinness World Record for the fastest gravity powered sled by more than 30kph, setting a new speed of 134.368kph (83.49mph).
“Following this success, they got in touch again and asked whether we would be interested in working on a new project – setting a world record for a gravity racer.”
The team focused on time, design, safety, cost, location, and achieving a high speed.
“Time was a critical factor for us,” Christina says. “There were only four months to design, build and test the gravity racer.”
“The design considerations such as chassis, brakes, steering, suspension, aerodynamic body, and safety were separate projects themselves and, in some cases, it was better to buy off the shelf parts and adapt them for our racer,” she adds.
The vehicle was specifically made for Guy Martin. “It was a snug fit as we designed it to minimise the aerodynamic profile, yet allow him to comfortably drive the gravity racer down the mountain,” Christina says.
After considering various locations in the UK, and even in Brazil, the team chose Mont Ventoux in France.
“The location ideally had to be steep, straight, and as long as possible, as the record speed had to be measured and averaged over [a] one hundred meter distance,” Christina says.
She adds: “To see a project through from conception to achieving a world record in such a short space of time was quite stressful at times, but an amazing achievement for the whole team.”
She says that the Centre for Sports Engineering Research has used a team with a diverse set of skills – from aeronautical and mechanical engineers to computer programmers – to solve problems in sport and in health technology.
“We do undertake consultancy projects as well as research projects and this TV project would be classed as a consultancy project, usually requiring a quick result,” she says.
She adds: “This was a twice in a life time experience and it was awesome.”