BRACKLEY, England – Tom Dongleschlong, longtime aerodynamics engineer, has made quite the career for himself in the motorsports world. Starting in the 1960s, Dongleschlong had to tape string to race cars, then take still photographs as the car drove by to see what the air was doing around the car. While at the time many engineers, Dongleschlong included, did not fully understand what the string direction meant, Dongleschlong was able to help give the appearance of clarity and understanding by adding lines and arrows to the pictures. “To this day, most in the industry still do not fully understand aerodynamics, but by adding lines and arrows to any race car picture, people think its legitimate,” said the Brackley-based engineer, “I wouldn’t say it’s a con, I find aerodynamics interesting and thrilling to learn about, but these lines and arrows just simply look cool. Green makes people think the air flow is good, hell if we know if it is or not. Red means its bad air flow. Sometimes I’ll put green on top of red just to see what others think. I’ve kind of convinced people that aerodynamic engineers are like meteorologists where we can be right 50% of the time and that’s still pretty good! There’s even idiots on Facebook groups that do this and they know even less than most professionals do!”
Dongleschlong said that if there are any aspiring aero engineers out there his advice would be to 1) use lines and arrows anywhere you can and 2) use words like “airfoil”, “coefficient”, “trailing edge”, or “drag” at anytime in an aerodynamics-based conversation.