WATKINS GLEN, New York (September 9th, 2011) – Markham, Ontario’s Multimatic Engineering will be unveiling their own interpretation of legendary automotive engineer Bill Milliken’s historic MX-1 Camber Car at Watkins Glen International Raceway over the Vintage Racing weekend. Milliken will be at the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix with the MX-2 camber car as part of an awards ceremony in his honour.
“I initiated a program with the blessing of the Millikens to engineer and build an updated version of the MX-1 and use it as a test bed for the theories Bill had on increasing tire capacity,” said Multimatic Vice President Larry Holt. “At the same time, it’s a tribute to Bill as he turns 100.”
Dubbed the MX-2, the car is Multimatic’s modern take on Milliken’s bright red, heavily-cambered engineering test bed he created himself decades ago. Multimatic is a world leader in the development of myriad automotive technologies including advanced suspension systems like the Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) damper used on the World Championship-winning Red Bull Formula 1 cars.
“There’s a certain degree of pressure when you’re talking about a project like this for a guy like Bill,” admitted MX-2 Technical Director Brian Willis, designer of the 1999 Le Mans-winning Williams-BMW V12 LMR. “A lot of the work he’s done is so pivotal to the automotive industry right now.”
The idea behind both the MX-1 and MX-2 is to combine the camber thrust mechanism used to produce cornering grip on motorcycles with the slip angle approach used in conjunction with the steering input of traditional cars so as to increase the tire’s lateral grip capability beyond conventional levels. A heavily cambered car like the MX-2, if developed correctly, could utilise smaller tires and run a much less sophisticated suspension as compared to contemporary four-wheeled vehicles while still producing similar levels of grip. The motorcycle tire offers a much smaller contact patch and therefore lower rolling resistance all of which could lead to lighter, more efficient vehicles.
“I understand the concepts and have seen the original results,” said Holt. “But now I think the time is right to have a proper go at commercializing the idea.”
The automotive industry is currently looking at every avenue to save weight, improve fuel economy and reduce cost, so it’s a perfect time for Multimatic to reinvestigate Milliken’s theories.
“Right now I think the MX-2 has potential to help create lighter, more efficient cars,” said Willis. “The word innovation is overused in motorsports, but at Multimatic we are truly interested in creating innovative technologies.”
Mainly though, the MX-2 was conceived as a tribute to the 100-year-old Milliken, whom Multimatic’s Larry Holt refers to as the “father of modern vehicle dynamics.”
“He’s still sharp as a pin,” said Holt. “I thought it would be great to have Bill drive it at 100 years old.”
Milliken was a founding member of the Watkins Glen Road Races, competed in the first event in 1948 and had a corner on the old Watkins Glen circuit named after him. His contributions to the automotive industry include the introduction of aircraft stability analysis methods to vehicle dynamics assessment as well as the development of the six-component tire testing machine. In addition to his automotive work, the MIT graduate was originally a pioneer in the aerospace industry. He worked for Boeing during WW2 and was a test engineer on the first flights of what would become the B29 Superfortress.