When Katherine Legge learned she was selected to test the DeltaWing race car April 21 and 24 at Road Atlanta, she called fellow DeltaWing driver Andy Meyrick for some advice.
“He said ‘try not to preconceive how it drives by looking at it,’” said Legge.
It turns out that the DeltaWing race car’s radically different looks can be deceiving … or at least misleading.
Then she got behind the wheel and drove, and fund out Meyrick was right and her sight-based assumptions were wrong.
“It’s true,” said Legge. “If you were blindfolded and someone put you in the car and you drove it, you didn’t know what it looked like from the outside, it drives like a fantastic race car. It’s incredible.”
Turns out the DeltaWing drives very similarly to the many other race cars Legge has driven, a list that includes a Champ Car, IndyCar, DTM car and an F1 car.
Legge’s thoughts on her DeltaWing shakedown:
- “It has very little drag because there are no wings. All the downforce comes from the undertray; it’s just ground effect. So it’s really fast in a straight line.”
- “It brakes really well. It’s like throwing a parachute out the back because most of the braking is done by the rear of the car so there’s no pitch in the car (under braking), and that was a really cool sensation.”
- “You carry stupid speed into the corner. You roll so much speed into the apex that it’s crazy. You don’t hit the apex with the front wheel because you have to judge hitting the apex with the real wheels.”
- “You look at it and you wonder how you are going to be able to judge distance. You think that it will take a while to get used to but really it’s just another racing car.”
- “It drives not exactly like an IndyCar but pretty much. It’s right up there. I was fairly positively amazed.”
Still to be determined is if the car’s triangular shape will make it challenging to sense how close other cars are when going side-by-side.
“I don’t think it will be so difficult, actually,” she said. “Because I thought it would take a while to get used to judging where to place the rear of the car in relation to the front. You have to have the sixth sense for how much wider the rear is but it really didn’t take long to get that in my head. I think it is one of those things that your brain just sorts out subconsciously.”
Legge got the opportunity to test the DeltaWing as a result of her “calling everyone I know” when her IndyCar ride for 2013 fell through two months before the season started. The fact that Legge was learning Road Atlanta at the same time she was testing the DeltaWing helped her naturally work her way into the feel of the car.
Along with being amazed by the car, Legge was impressed with the DeltaWing Racing team. The team was impressed enough with Legge to hire her to partner with Meyrick to drive the DeltaWing in the LMP1 class of ALMS on May 11 at Laguna Seca.
“I’m very pleased about the opportunity, very gratefully for the opportunity. I think that we can make it into something special,” she said. “Obviously there is a whole class for them next year (in ALMS) so if we get up and running and fast then there’s no reason there won’t be more joining the party next year.”
The same radically different appearance of the car that creates false assumptions about how DeltaWing drives also seems to attract a lot of positive attention from potential sponsors as well.
“It does use less fuel, it uses less parts; it uses less everything; it’s much more efficient,” she said. “I think in today’s world, where everyone is looking at efficiency and being green and everything like that, it’s a step toward the future. Companies love it. When you are looking for sponsors and you are talking to people about it, it gets their attention.”
For more on the DeltaWing, visit www.deltawingracing.com.
Also from Katherine Legge, a candid disussion about racing life after coming through some recent professional “dark times” click here.
Here's a great video of the DeltaWing in action along with its inventor, Ben Bowlby, talking about the science that makes it work.