Aussie race-car design up in the clouds

FAMILY-OWNED racing team Kelly has facilitated the biggest shake-up in V8 Supercar history by using cloud technology to redesign a mid-sized road sedan in six months.

Kelly Racing overhauled the consumer version of the Nissan Altima to meet the rigours and requirements of V8 Supercar racing, based on the two controls of the roll cage and the body kit.

Racing director Todd Kelly signed the deal with Nissan in February. He acquired the specifications and designs in March. The team has now almost completed the design and testing. This week it will start testing the aerodynamics under racing conditions.

''It's a massive task and we're just about to fire the very first engine up on the dyno,'' Mr Kelly said.

''We've had to design an engine, which is a first for V8 Supercars. We've taken a Nissan engine block and cylinder head, which is actually used in the road cars … and turned it into a V8 supercar engine.''

Kelly Racing slashed production times by testing the engine and body kit in a virtual environment, eliminating weaknesses before parts were produced.

It used the Autodesk SIM360 software to  remotely process intensive graphic and design simulations on high-powered computers, testing the body kit's drag and downforce, and the stress points in the suspension and engine components.

Using traditional methods to build a car from scratch - to build and test an engine repeatedly until all weaknesses are removed - would have taken more than a year, he said.

The car would not have been ready in time for next year's race.

''We've done that all in-house, from the design of the inlet manifold, and the valves, the inlet and exhaust ports. We've done the same thing with the body - we've had to take a road car exterior body and try to get it around a V8 Supercar roll cage to meet all the V8 Supercar rules - to flare the guards out to meet the minimum measurements for a V8 supercar, and to make all the aero kit.

''It has been an absolutely massive job in the time frame we've had.''

Todd and brother Rick Kelly drove Holden cars in the V8 Supercars championship for 15 years, before starting their own team. Over the past five years they have established Kelly Racing with 19 independent departments servicing four cars, managing up to 50 sponsors, Todd Kelly said.

''There are a lot of different ways you can go racing, but our model is completely self-sufficient and do everything in house.

''Because the time you have at the workshop to get this work done is so precious. To do all that simulation and design work in the fastest time possible is really important.

''There's no way you could get through that amount of work without the right equipment and software at your fingertips.

''To sit there and see a complete new car and new engine come together in less than six months - if there was a Guinness world record for that, I reckon we'd have it.''

This year the brothers cut their decades-old ties with Holden to partner with Nissan, facilitating the Japanese manufacturer's return to V8 Supercars racing next year - the first time this has happened in 20 years, and the first competitor to Ford and Holden's V8 racing duopoly.

Todd Kelly will be racing the car next year and hopes to compete with Ford and former stablemate Holden.