The latest European Racing Buggy Designs
(There’s method in the madness!)
We have all seen custom design buggies, and wider-than-standard axles are nothing new, but the October 1998 European Championship threw up a selection of Mix and Match Hybrid designs that are as far evolved from the basic Buggy, as any seen to date!
Longer axles are becoming a common design feature in Europe, measuring 1.3m-1.5m- (4ft 3in-5ft) and wider, while the U.K. racer is still mainly using standard axles.
When you add longer wheelbases to the lengthened axle, the stability, at speed, is greatly increased, though at the expense to any Freestyle abilities.
These, and other adaptations have come about because of the weather conditions encountered when racing within Europe, encouraging designers to pursue a specialist buggy concept!
All major racing takes place during the Winter. This means wet and windy conditions are common. (An uncommon experience to those of you from S. California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Florida.)
By wet I mean very wet, and windy means … you guessed it!
Even with 2m kites, or less, folks were having a hard time not being pulled sidewards in standard buggies. When you did go, speeds were in excess of 40mph, and you were being bounced all over the place, sometimes nearly out of the buggy!
So the wider axle and longer wheelbase sorted out many of the problems. But being able to fly a bigger kite increased the risk of being ripped out of the buggy, as the buggy was now more stable!
Higher padded side rails around the seat, were developed to overcome this and provided the pilot with a bracing bar, allowing them to maximize the kite’s power.
These side rails enclose the pilot, like an armchair. Good for pilot stability, but no emergency rear exit!
Wet beaches present a further problem, that of aquaplaning with a standard tyre. This hazard has been overcome by fitting a thin tyre on a spoked wheel, as the steering wheel. This set up cuts through the shallow water, preventing aquaplaning, which can be a bit of a problem when you lose all steering at 40mph!
Oh no! Still experiencing buggy sideslip! Well that’s no problem because we can add up to 20kg (44lbs) of lead weights to the buggy, to provide more downforce!
Now you’re ready to race, Euro Style!
Steve Walt Webb