#Focus – Back to 1983 and crash testing history.

We’re back in February 1983, it’s a grim winter in the UK… Well, isn’t it always grim over there? Anyway, teams are working hard as the new season is coming up and testing will shortly resume.

Here is a sneaky peek at the Motor Racing Developments Ltd. (MRD) and better known Brabham Formula One team work going on behind the scene. Gordon Murray is working and building what would become the World Championship winning* Brabham BT52 in the hands of Nelson Piquet.

An interesting concept if considering the FISA had just banned ground effects and therefore the Brabham BT51 Turbo car which was already being tested at the end of the 1982 season. It featured a number of interesting concepts as Gordon Murray shaped the car like a dart, reducing the sidepods to the bare minimum in order to lower the lift these were generating as well as concentrating on maximum downforce at the back with the wing growing bigger throughout the season.


The form followed the function one would say, it was also tiny as Murray made the most of the refuelling concept, Wintershall rocket fuel some may say here, the French especially… But while it was a very modern and new design, unlike McLaren or Lotus who were already relying somehow on full composite chassis, the designer kept with a part metal, part composite structure, still it featured what I believe was the first full composite roll-over protection structure (ROPS).

And here below is a glimpse of the work that happened between MRD and its supplier Advanced Composite Components Ltd. in the UK to actually not only build a car that is new and performing against the competition but obviously safe in some areas. So here you can see a few scans and pictures of what appears to be the development work going for the ROPS as well as crash testing and the rig made to test some possible composite parts of the tub.

What I particularly like in all this work is the fact that they were pioneers in bringing the technology up to speed. Just consider the responsibility on designers when you see the work and trust that the drivers had in them. It’s a given today but it wasn’t always! Enjoy.

*Driver Championship only.

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