UC Irvine’s “Lean Dynamics” extreme gravity racing team, comprised of four graduate students and seven undergraduate students, was presented with “The Most Innovative Car” award for their newly designed gravity series race car entered in the 2006 “Extreme Gravity Racing (XGR) - Challenge at
Organized by Don MacAllister and sponsored by Greenlight Financial Services, the event featured high-tech, futuristic race cars powered by gravity. Weighing no more than 350 lbs. each, including the driver, these vehicles were able to reach up to 50 mph down Tuna Canyon Road, which was dominated by sharp turns and steep straight-aways.
Supervised by Michael McCarthy, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, the UC Irvine team constructed an innovative steering system, allowing the center of gravity to move towards the inside of the turn. This steering made the race car more stable, and gave additional control to the driver, which allowed the car to turn at higher speeds without slipping. To ensure the car’s safety features, as well as its reliability and durability, the team tested their design in challenging conditions, including collision and brake failure.
Lean Dynamics raced alongside some of the top car designers in the world, including Ferrari with Pininfarina, Mazda, Honda and Daimler–Chrysler Pacifica.