Summer course on racing vehicles for high school students

Race car dynamics

Clear a distance in less time and cross the line before other vehicles. That is the target for a racing car. Motorsport represents a challenge for drivers and engineers, always looking for new ideas to push the technology to its edge and extract the maximum performance from the car. The course provides the basics of vehicle dynamics to understand how chassis, tyres, suspensions, powertrain and aerodynamics work together to maximize overall performance. The course will cover the following topics:

Vehicle dynamics
The first part of the course focuses on the basics of vehicle dynamics. We will apply the laws of Newtonian Mechanics to a vehicle to understand how geometrical and inertial characteristics, engine power and tire-road forces affect the performance. The parameters most affecting drivability and stability will be analysed with simplified mathematical models, introducing the ideas of oversteer and understeer.

In the second part of the course, we will understand how the interaction with the air implies an additional motion resistance (drag force) but offers the opportunity of generating downforce; this last pushes the car against the ground, increasing the road holding. We will introduce the basics of aerodynamics, analysing the effect of body shape, floor and wings on performance.

Tires and suspension
Forces generated at the tire-road interface represent the key to performance maximisation. We will understand how using tyres in the correct temperature range and with the proper footprint shape, leads to significant advantages. We will also analyse the role of suspensions: these elements are the link between tires and bodywork and are designed to optimise the footprint shape and keep the tires in contact with the ground.

The participants will be involved in hands-on experiences. They will use scale-model cars whose geometrical and inertial properties can be modified, together with some powertrain settings. They will experience the effect of the aerodynamic set-up on drag and downforce using model cars in a small wind tunnel. Last, they will play the role of race engineer, optimising the set-up of a virtual race car and competing in a simulated race.

Technical requirements

To participate in the course, you will need to bring your laptop computer. Under no circumstances may you use a tablet. The necessary software would not be properly supported.
You will need one of the following operating systems with Office installed:

  • Windows 7 (or later) or Windows Server (2012 R2+)
  • MacOS 10.10 (or later)

Before the start of the course, you will have to download and install LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 Home Edition:

If you have any doubts you can write an email to or join the Telegram group.

Video presentation