Last week I had the pleasure today of attending a presentation by, and talking with, John Moloney, general manager of Penske Racing's Technology Group. He was taking part in Parametric Technology Corp.'s (PTC) press and analyst event.
As aero engineers by education, we both hit it off quickly in discussing technology. During his presentation, Moloney spoke about the technical and human resources available to the Penske organization that produced 262 major race wins, from NASCAR to 13 Indy 500 victories, in the last 37 years. He also discussed the team's new technology center that will be fully operational later this year.
But perhaps his most interesting comments concerned the current limits of modern digital hardware and software. When asked how CFD simulations stacked up against wind tunnel tests and real-life on the track, he offered that correlation is good mostly for isolated components and not yet for a full car. This attests to the complexity of race cars, perhaps even more so than aircraft, where the simulation technology was first developed. Moloney also said it can be quicker to gather data in a tunnel or on a car at the track, as opposed to a simulation, because actual components can be swapped rather quickly then tested.