Two proven concepts, "Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday" and spinoffs of space technology into other applications are behind a plethora of new advanced technology automotive insulating materials.

Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) like "Inconel - Encapsulated Ceramic Fiber," "S Glass Kapton Aluminized" and "Modified Multilayer Insulation" used to protect the Space Shuttle from the searing heat of re-entry are now being used to isolate racing car drivers from very high engine compartment temperatures.

OEM suppliers such as Rockwell International are working with automakers to adapt space-age TPS technology for "street" use in applications such as headliner, seat and firewall insulation.

The story starts in 1995 when stock car superstar, Bobby Allison, visited NASA's Kennedy Space Center where he recognized the potential of space age TPS material for use in racing. High temperatures are a constant problem in NASCAR stock cars as well as other types of racing cars. For instance, temperatures inside the driver's compartment of Winston Cup stock cars can reach 160oF (71oC), sapping the energy of drivers and causing heat fatigue. About the only protection previously provided were sheets of ordinary plywood between the engine and exhaust and the driver's compartment.

Butch Stevens and his BSR Products Inc. in Charlotte, NC, a major supplier of racing parts, working with NASA and Rockwell Space Systems put Allison's idea into practice. After more than a year of development, the adapted TPS technology first appeared in Rusty Wallace's Ford Thunderbird when it ran in qualifying trials in May 1996 at the Busch Grand National Race in Charlotte. After a composite flexible blanket insulation and a radiant barrier were installed in the Thunderbird, temperatures measured at the gas pedal never exceeded 90oF (32oC), whereas before they could exceed 330oF (221oC).

Subsequently, Boeing partnered with BSR to develop a full line of insulating products including heat shields and thermal blankets for the racing industry.

BSR says that when the tailpipe (under driver's seat), header, boom tube and crossover heat shields are used in combination with door panel, floor, side tunnel and rocker panel thermal blankets, interior temperatures can be decreased by as much as 40oF (22oC).

BSR/Boeing is not the only one to offer space-age insulation to the racing industry.

Bobby Allison Technologies has been formed to introduce insulating materials manufactured by Energy "Q" International of Fort Worth, TX, into motorsports.

Design criteria such as light weight, no outgassing, non flamable, durable and operational efficiency needed for space applications are also of importance in racing cars as well as street cars, which are experiencing ever-increasing underhood temperatures.

The technology also can be used in small aircraft and motor homes.

Mathews Conveyor, a leading manufacturer and distributor of conveyor systems with more than 90 years of experience, introduces its highly-versatile automatic transfer car (ATC), which can be customized for use in a wide range of automotive manufacturing and distribution operations. Mathews' ATC can be used in a variety of material handling operations to efficiently move the flow of product on pallets, even when right angle direction changes are required. By linking conveyor lines of palletized product, ATCs work to control and maximize a manual- or fully-automatic work flow operation for an entire plant. Mathews' automatic transfer cars have the on-board intelligence to handle fragile material handling needs, such as a glass palletizing operation or a highly customized system. Ward's Info. No. 203