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Coatings Test Drives a Record Finish

Monday, July 11, 2011

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Most coatings tests don’t require a seatbelt. Then again, most coatings tests don’t exceed 200 mph.

Unless Johnny Bohmer is doing the testing.

Performance car developer and driver Bohmer recently turned a coatings test into a world speed record, taking a modified Ford GT from a standstill to 223 mph on the runway of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility.

 Johnny Bohmer

 Photos: Performance Power Racing

Johnny Bohmer shows the evidence of his racing chops.

A Guinness World Records judge authenticated the accomplishment June 16 and 17.

Aerodynamic Clear Coat

Bohmer wasn’t just thrill seeking. His company, Performance Power Racing (mission: “to build the fastest cars in the world”), was using the event to test an aerodynamic coating called PerformaBond.

The coating uses “Particle Bonding Sealant Technology” to create “an aerodynamic protective clear coat finish that significantly reduces surface friction for vehicles of all types,” according to its web site.

The makers of PerformaBond (unrelated to Performance Power Racing) sponsored the speed test and applied the product to PPR’s car, Bohmer said.

 PPR's Ford GT
The modified Ford GT set a new world record.

The coating fills in the microscopic pores in paint and makes the car move through the air much more smoothly, developer Jeff McEachran said in an interview published by NASA. Testing showed a 1-2 percent reduction in drag, he said.

In an email, Bohmer said the product “is still in the developmental phase,” but he added: “We have been using the product for quite some time (it's great) and help as much as we can with their testing.”

Record Run

Bohmer’s record is the first in the new Guinness category of standing mile for a street-legal car. That means he began from a standstill and revved up to speeds faster than the space shuttle's average touchdown speed.

“This is probably the best place on the Earth,” Bohmer said before the run. “It's very nice, I'm very happy with it. I took it up to 210 [on June 16] without trying.”

 PPR 's World Record time
The tale of the tape tells all.

The three-mile-long concrete runway was built for spacecraft returning from orbit at high speeds but is becoming a preferred testing ground for drivers and racing teams, NASA says.

The companies pay rent on the facility for each day they use the runway and sign Space Act Agreements to use it for at least eight days a year, said NASA's David Cox, Partnership Development manager at Kennedy.

“They're learning us, we're learning them,” Cox said.

For NASA, the testing has to meet certain criteria such as performing true aerodynamic evaluations, Cox said. Part of the agency's mission now is to support research that can improve fuel mileage for vehicles, so tests on products that reduce drag on a car help meet that criteria.

McEachran’s coating filled that bill.

“The great thing is that it all coincides: NASA is high-tech and cutting-edge, and that's exactly what we want to do,” he said.

Extreme Testing

PerformaBond LLC has performed other extreme testing. In January, the company says, it hired a NASA-accredited wind tunnel facility “to conduct a rigorous skin friction surface wind tunnel test,” to determine whether the coating “measurably reduces the drag on a surface.”

Drag measurements were obtained on a generic wind model at wind speeds ranging from about 28 mph to 108 mph. “The data showed that the coating was dramatically effective at reducing the drag at wind speeds beginning at 28 mph and continuing at a rising rate of efficiency up to the 108.3 miles per hour top wind speed,” the company reported.

It added: “The percent reduction in coefficient of drag will continue to increase at a measurable rate as the vehicle continues to accelerate past the testing procedures limitations.”

Hot Rod

The world record came as a bit of surprise for Bohmer and his team, because it came during some of the hottest times of the day—“conditions that are not typically kind to supercharged engines,” NASA notes.

“The hotter the ground gets, the slower your car will go,” Bohmer said.

On the other hand, the Performance Power Racing group, based in West Palm Beach, FL, began setting faster marks on their cars as soon as they started revving them up on the runway, NASA reported. For example, the team brought a Dodge Challenger and drove it to over 170 mph, beating the previous record for that model by almost 30 mph.

Bohmer's Ford GT and other test cars are equipped with drag chutes to help slow them down at the end of a run, but the shuttle runway is so long that the drivers don't have to use them.

“On the shorter tracks, they have to deploy it every single time and repack it,” Cox said. "Here they don't have to do that at all.”

Watch a video of the speed test.


Tagged categories: Coatings technology; Performance testing; Protective coatings

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