11 July, 2003 – Ford graduate engineers are set to put in one of the most daring runs ever seen by spectators at this year's Festival of Speed - with a high-tech, carbon-fibre 'soapbox', in the famous down hill gravity races at Goodwood.
The young graduate engineers are competing against over twenty teams from other car companies, Formula One teams and engineering firms. With heats held on Saturday and the finalists racing on Sunday, the team expect to post speeds close to 60 mph to be competitive.
This is the second year that the Ford flag has been flown in the race by its graduate recruits, so this year's team of 15 engineers has both recently qualified graduates and five of last year's team members to act as supervisors and pass on their experience.
This year’s vehicle is called ‘Centennial EGGbox’ (Engineering Graduate Group) and team manager Kyle Shearer, 25, said: "We have designed this year's vehicle from the bearings up, rather than working on the aerodynamics first. With a team recruited last November, we were able to spend two months researching components such as tyres, bearings and a package that includes an F1 style steering wheel, before moving to computer modelling of the body shell.
"This year's vehicle uses advanced materials like carbon fibre and a composite bonded frame, so there is virtually no metal in the body at all. The body shape has been developed using computational fluid dynamics and it is no surprise that the final shape is reminiscent of smaller historical race cars."
The car is being raced by 25-year-old, Matthew Norris, a graduate engineer based at Ford’s Dagenham plant. Commenting on the team's prospects, Matthew said: "As long as I can hold back the temptation to use the brakes, which are really only there for emotional support, I think our prospects are good!"
The team is based at Ford's technical centre in Dunton, Essex. Home of around 5,000 designers, engineers and support staff, designing Ford's small and medium vehicles for around the world. The team members, all volunteers working out of hours, gain valuable experience and access to a wide range of facilities and resources as they learn about the site's activities and broaden their own engineering and design skills.Published 15 July 2003