Hendrick Engine Engineering
- Jun 14, 2005
- Team Hendrick
With the Hendrick Motorsports engine department building and rebuilding 700-plus engines per year, the program’s in-house engineering group plays a critical role in the success of the entire operation both on and off of the racetrack.
Headed by Jim Wall, the engine engineering department is responsible for trouble shooting any problems that arise with components, designing and manufacturing new elements to increase horsepower and efficiency, and maintaining vital relationships with HMS’s technical partners such as UGS.
When an engine returns from the track, the engine engineering department conducts a thorough post race analysis of any known issues that arose during the course of a race weekend or a test session. After identifying a problem, the team of engineers will investigate which part of the power plant broke first, and will next attempt to define a cause and effect relationship of what transpired.
Problems are documented via an in-depth write up, and all of the involved components are photographed for department records. The files are housed in “Team Center,” a product lifecycle management software system created by Hendrick’s technical partner UGS. These files are accessible to the rest of the engine department and to the engine tuners and crew chiefs at the track via the team’s wireless network.
In addition, the engineers will also trouble shoot any issues with specific components before these parts are ever included in a fully assembled engine. Wall and his team evaluate the quality of elements such as pistons and engine blocks. If any questions arise, they will research the entire batch of parts looking for any structural or geometric variances within it.
The engine engineering department is also vital in the design and creation of new components for the engines. The more elements Hendrick Motorsports can produce in house, the more efficient it becomes giving the organization greater control over the quality of what is produced.
The engineers use I-DEAS software from UGS to transform their plans into prototypes and their prototypes into reality. I-DEAS is an all inclusive design suite for modeling components. The program encompasses the entire design process and allows the engineers to create, simulate, document, build, perform tests such as FEA (Finite Element Analysis), and optimize their ideas all within a digital environment.
I-DEAS also includes a CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) arm which writes programs for the Haas CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machines that are used to produce the parts in real life.
The Haas CNC machines are housed inside the engine engineering department, and besides producing engine parts, they create chassis elements such as components for the steering assembly.
The machinists who operate the Hass CNC machines are responsible for such processes as the finish machine work of cylinder head castings, intake manifold castings, and pistons.
With the ability to create their own engine elements and trouble shoot any issues that arise on and off of the track, the Hendrick Motorsports engine engineering department is a vital part to not only the engine operation, but to the entire organization as well.