RACING: Top Secret Wind Tunnel In Abandoned Turnpike Tunnel

People like to make fun of NASCAR for being behind the times, but an abandoned tunnel in the backwoods of Pennsylvania shows that they can be more innovative than some of the best F1 teams.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike in the 1960s faced a problem, narrow tunnels were restricting traffic. The solution was to bypass the tunnels and build a new road that was not as direct, this was less expensive than expanding the tunnel. The tunnels were abandoned or used as gun ranges or equipment storage.

One of the longest tunnels was the Laurel Hill Tunnel that goes for almost a full mile under ground. In 2003, it was taken over by NASCAR and Indy Car team owner Chip Ganassi. The tunnel has been repaved, equipped with climate control, safety equipment, and data collection systems.

The tunnel has been turned into on of the worlds largest full-sized wind tunnel with a rolling road. But, instead of moving the wind they are moving the car. According to one source, Cup cars can accelerate up to 155 mph before they have to brake. The even have turntables at each end to turn the cars around. If a car can not slowdown in time, there are tire barriers.

This has to be one of the best “out-of-the-box” ideas in racing.


Racecar Engineering article “The Secrets of Laurel Hill

Pictures of the tunnel in 1940