FLIR Thermal Cameras in Motorsports: A Field Trip

FLIR thermal cameras are everywhere in motorsports these days. Infrared resolution has been increasing, camera cost is lower than ever, and decreasing size is opening up many possible applications. Whether Formula 1, Le Mans or NASCAR, you can’t watch a race today without seeing a few thermal clips here and there. TV images are usually limited to analyzing tire contact in infrared, but teams are using thermal imaging technology to monitor everything from exhaust systems to suspensions to cooling systems. FLIR cameras are measuring temperatures of crucial components and helping visualize thermal patterns indicative of wear or failure. FLIR even recently announced an agreement with Infiniti Red Bull Racing to gather temperature data from its 2014 RB10 race car. I don’t suppose the rest of us will be seeing that data anytime soon….

Below are some images taken with a FLIR E60 Thermal Camera at the 2013 Virginia International Raceway (VIR) Gold Cup, and the 2014 Jefferson 500 race at Summit Point Motorsports Park.

Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe Infrared

A Shelby Daytona Coupe awaiting its turn.

Crossle Formula Ford Infrared

Crossle Formula Ford just off the track.

Crossle Formula Ford Transaxle Infrared

Crossle Formula Ford Transaxle and Brakes.

Formula Ford Radiator Infrared

Crossle Formula Ford Radiator. Note even heat distribution.

Chevron B16 Summit Point Infrared

Chevron B16 after a hard race. Tubular chassis visible behind bodywork.

Chevron B16 Tire Infrared

Chevron B16 rear tire.

Tiga SC84 Sports Racer Infrared

Tiga SC84 Sports Racer. Engine heat showing through bodywork.

Tiga SC84 Engine Infrared

Tiga SC84 engine, brakes, and exhaust.

Porsche 911 GT3 Infrared

Hot brake rotor on a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

Chevron B19 Header Infrared

Exhaust header from a Chevron B19.

Chevron B19 Rear Tire Infrared

Chevron B19 rear tire.





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