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The Globe and Mail

In Pictures: Nissan Deltawing's radical shape breaks the race car mould

Globe and Mail columnist Peter Cheney looks at the controversial race car to see how it works, and what it means to the future of driving.

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Conceived as a “green race car,” the Deltawing’s light weight and low aerodynamic drag allow it compete on half the fuel required by its rivals. Tire and brake life is dramatically increased.

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Set next to conventionally-designed Le Mans series competitors, the Deltawing resembles a wheeled torpedo.

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The Deltawing competed in France's legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race last summer. The unusual car was entered in a category known as Garage 56, reserved for experimental vehicles. The Deltawing was eliminated from the race when a heavier car knocked it off the track.

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Unlike conventional race cars, the Deltawing has no downforce-generating wings. This reduces drag, allowing high straightaway speeds.

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The slim, pointed nose of the DeltaWing is key to its design. Low frontal area reduces aerodynamic drag.

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Ben Bowlby, designer of the Deltawing race car, used radio-controlled model cars to test the concepts behind his revolutionary design.

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Deltawing designer Bruce Bowby with his unique car at the Paris car show.

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Nissan DeltaWing undergoes wet-track testing in Europe. Tall pods behind the driver provide roll-over protection.

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The Deltawing made its North American debut in the the Petit Le Mans race series in October. It finished fifth in its class at the 1000-mile endurance race, held at the Road Atlanta course.

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After driving the Deltawing, race driver Marino Franchitti pronounced it “..surprisingly lacking in drama, despite what it looks like on the outside... it does everything properly.”

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The tall vertical fin on the Deltawing's tail is a critical part of its aerodynamic design, adding high-speed stability to the arrow-shaped car. The Deltawing carries an unusually high percentage of its weight on the wide-set rear wheels.

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The Deltawing’s narrow front track made many wonder if it would corner and brake well. Designer Bruce Bowlby shifted the car’s weight toward the rear, reducing loads on the closely-set front tires.

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