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NASCAR Team Turns to Microsoft High-Performance Computing to Increase Competitive Edge Before Races


Chip Ganassi Racing selects Microsoft solution, running simulations 38 times as fast as before.
REDMOND, Wash. — June 2008 — In an effort to improve car performance during races, Chip Ganassi Racing has selected a high-performance computing (HPC) solution based on Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, Microsoft Corp. announced today.

Chip Ganassi Racing uses computer simulation software to help its NASCAR team determine optimal starting configurations for its cars before each race. With the solution, the team increases its competitive edge by running simulations approximately 38 times as fast as before, providing enough time to run multiple simulations before each race.

“With Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, we were able to easily put a solution in place that helps our teams better prepare for race day,” said Mark Paxton, research and development engineering manager for the NASCAR team at Chip Ganassi Racing. “With simulation times reduced from 24 hours to about 30 minutes, we now can run multiple simulations for each race and better tune the situations for each car, track and set of track conditions. Faster simulation times give our car teams more time to rerun simulations if issues arise at the track or expected race-day conditions change.”

Since its founding as a one-car IndyCar team 18 years ago, Chip Ganassi Racing, based in Concord, N.C., has grown into a highly competitive racing team that competes in the NASCAR Nextel Cup, NASCAR Nationwide, Indy Racing League, Indy Pro and Rolex Grand-AM series. The team has used simulation software for several years, but its usefulness has been limited by the massive computing power required.

Chip Ganassi Racing worked with Microsoft and Stackpole Engineering Services Inc., its simulation software vendor, to modify the software to run on Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003. Whereas it previously took the team 24 hours to run a simulation, Chip Ganassi Racing can now run a simulation in less than an hour by using a five-node, HPC cluster. By taking advantage of HPC, Chip Ganassi Racing can run simulations faster and more often, enabling the team to optimize race car performance and ultimately be more competitive at the track.

Chip Ganassi Racing can identify optimal starting configurations by using the technology to model track characteristics, expected race-day conditions such as temperature, and how performance under those scenarios is affected by wheel camber, tire pressure, spring rates and other variables that affect suspension geometry.

“We’re all about making cars go faster, not building fancy computer systems,” Paxton said. “At first, I thought HPC was only for big companies that can afford multimillion-dollar supercomputers. After we realized that HPC was accessible and affordable, we saw the potential competitive advantage it would bring. My only concerns were that the solution be easy to use and easy to manage, and that we could easily modify the application. Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 enabled us to meet all three requirements.”

“Typical HPC solutions can be costly and complex, but we have designed Windows-based HPC solutions to be cost-effective and easy to deploy, use and manage,” said David Graff, U.S. automotive industry solutions director at Microsoft. “Microsoft is making long-term investments in HPC to help automotive and other manufacturing customers create innovative solutions that accelerate insights and ultimately drive business success.”


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