Katz and McBeath Book Reviews

Two standout books, one from Joseph Katz and the other from Simon McBeath, are worthy additions to any racecar aerodynamics enthusiast's library.

Competition Car Aerodynamics: A Practical Handbook, 2006, by Simon McBeath can be considered, according to the author, "... an essential upgrade..." to his previous book Competition Car Downforce, 1998. His latest effort is an expanded collection of his Aerobytes column in Racecar Engineering. It makes extensive use of Advantage CFD studies with great visuals and provides the entire Advantage CFD website, including case studies, images and animations, on a DVD. The highlight is a detailed aerodynamic case study of a 2005 Formula 1 car (BAR Honda). The book as a whole provides a good overview of 'what' are the present day racecar aerodynamics features of note, without much reference to 'why'.

New Directions in Race Car Aerodynamics: Designing for Speed, 1995, by Joseph Katz provides much more of the 'why' and at times maybe a little too much. This may be expected based on a previous Katz book Low-Speed Aerodynamics (co-authored by Allen Plotkin), the theory heavy but definitive text on panel methods. Through copious illustrations the book is a great introduction to fluid mechanics relative to racecars. While the book is showing its age in terms of the cars depicted, the message is still clear and relevant. Highlights include a detailed analysis of the benefits and limitations of wind tunnel testing, and a chapter on airfoil theory and design.

Together the two books form a relatively complete 'what' and 'why' of racecar aerodynamics.