Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), the championship-winning NASCAR team, has expanded its partnership with Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), a leader in software applications for the engineering, manufacturing, construction, architecture, media and entertainment industries.
Autodesk will be the primary partner for NASCAR Cup Series driver Cole Custer and the No. 41 team for six races beginning Sunday at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, which is a hometown race for San Francisco-based Autodesk.
After Sonoma, the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang will race Aug. 15 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Aug. 28 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Sept. 18 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Oct. 3 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and Oct. 10 at the Charlotte Motor (N.C.) Speedway Roval.
“Autodesk is more than just a sponsor – it’s a key asset in making our cars perform every weekend,” said Greg Zipadelli, Vice President of Competition, SHR. “How we stay on top of new technologies while ensuring reliability is directly attributable to Autodesk and its technical support.”
The 2021 season marks Autodesk’s fourth year with SHR, and the partnership is more than skin deep. The team uses Autodesk’s Fusion 360 design and manufacturing software extensively to create lightweight, but strong, components for its fleet of racecars.
“Motorsports is a great showcase for our manufacturing software, and in working with Stewart-Haas Racing, we see firsthand how our technology helps the team turn a creative idea into a tangible component that ultimately delivers wins as an outcome,” said Scott Reese, Executive Vice President of Product Development and Manufacturing Solutions, Autodesk. “We’re proud to play a role in the team’s success.”
Success in racing is obtained by scrutinizing details. One particular example where SHR took full advantage of Autodesk’s Fusion 360 software was in the redesign of a basic, yet key, component of the racecar – the brake pedal.
“We undertook the brake pedal project primarily for weight savings,” said Walter Mitchell, Engineering Integration Manager, SHR. “Our existing brake pedal was designed and manufactured using traditional methods. Through previous iterations and revision, we could no longer produce or realize any additional weight savings.”
Enter Autodesk’s generative design capabilities and its Fusion 360 software. It helps designers and engineers quickly find optimal solutions to design problems, and SHR’s brake pedal revision was chronicled in this video.
The new pedal accounts for a 32 percent reduction in weight with a 50 percent increase in stiffness, with the optimized design being realized by Fusion 360. The entire project took just two months to complete – from initial design to simulation, additive manufacturing of the pedal, testing and finalized part. Just as importantly, it was all delivered within two weeks of the needed race date.
“We tested the pedal on an in-house designed test rig to simulate normal braking events over multiple race distances,” Mitchell said. “We set the pedal up in a fixture to simulate driver input load under normal braking conditions of 150 pounds, as well as panic braking loads of 350 pounds. Those braking events were conducted at a cycle of 6,000 events, which represents 3,000 laps of braking, and the pedal withstood all of those loads and cycles flawlessly.”