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Science & Engineering + Artistic Craftsmanship = Dramatic Victory!

Ahmad Hares, winner of the 2009 TSA Dragster Design competition (high school)

The taste of success is sweet – just a small taste can whet one’s appetite for more. Just ask Ahmad Hares of Braden River High School in Bradenton, FL. In 2008, Ahmad took 3rd place in the TSA Dragster Design competition in Orlando. Having come so close, Ahmad thought he could win it all – by applying more knowledge and understanding to his car design.

That’s exactly what he did. Ahmad’s 2009 entry – dubbed Biocrypt II, a deep green stunner adorned with artfully rendered skulls – took home the top honors with one of the most dramatic finishes in recent memory.

Ahmad employed a methodical, high-tech approach to designing and building his car. According to advisor Richard Platt, Ahmad’s car “… is a very scientific car.” With the help of SolidWorks software, Ahmad created virtual dragsters and analyzed them with Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD). CFD is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical methods and algorithms to solve and analyze problems that involve fluid flows (Wikipedia.com, 2009). Think of it as a virtual wind tunnel. In this manner, designs can be perfected even before a physical prototype is built. Platt continues “Through CFD analysis he quickly discarded and validated his own theories about car design. He became an expert in CAM, milling out as many as five cars in one day.”

Ahmad also studied past TSA racecars to see what competitive advantages or disadvantages they possessed. By viewing images on Science-of-Speed.com, Ahmad was able to model and analyze the cars. Entries from perennial favorite James Bowie High School were among the car designs he examined.

More evidence of the car’s scientific DNA – the custom-made wheels feature golf-ball-like dimples on their outer surface. This was based on extensive research on the aerodynamic benefits of the dimples as compared to a smooth surface.

“Through CFD analysis he quickly discarded and validated his own theories about car design. He became an expert in CAM, milling out as many as five cars in one day.” – Richard Platt, advisor

Not only is the car a triumph of science and engineering, it’s also a piece of art. The handsome paint job features dozens of haunting skulls that appear to float just below the surface. The painting process involved laser-cutting stencils used to apply the skull artwork, free-handing with an airbrush, and lots of TLC.

Amazing as the car is – it was Ahmad’s backup car. The original car was the victim of a mishap at the Florida state competition – it was completely destroyed when it collided with a wall.

To the delight of all spectators in Denver, the backup proved to be a worthy stand-in. Biocrypt II was undefeated throughout the entire competition. In what promised to be the final race of the day, Biocrypt II was paired with car #B16, built by Harrison Armstrong of James Bowie High School. The result? Dead heat! Both cars turned in an identical time of .951 seconds. Slow-motion video confirmed that both cars nosed across the finish line at the exact, same instant.

To settle the matter, the two cars were placed in the opposite lanes, and staged for a rematch. This time, Biocrypt II crossed the finish with a car-length advantage over his challenger, and finished with the best-of-finals time of .925!

With the win, Ahmad has capped a fantastic TSA career. But he has more racing in his future – having been accepted to the University of South Florida’s College of Engineering where he plans to participate in collegiate Formula SAE racing. We think they’ll like Ahmad’s approach to engineering and his winning ways.