FIAT, Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, have produced notable modern infrastructure with innovative rings roads both at the scale of architecture, Lingotto, and landscape, Nardo Ring.
FIAT opened Lingotto in 1923 and the design (Matté Trucco) was unusual in that the production assembly line spiralled up the five floors such that raw materials entered at ground floor and completed cars emerged at rooftop level where there was a test track. At the time of opening in 1923, Lingotto the largest car factory in the world at that time. For its time, the Lingotto building was avant-garde, influential and impressive—Le Corbusier called it “one of the most impressive sights in industry”, and “a guideline for town planning”. 80 different models of car were produced there in its lifetime, including the Fiat Topolino of 1936.
By the time Lingotto closed in 1982 (today Lingotto is a Hotel), FIAT had produced an even greater feat of test track engineering but this time in the South of Italy in the town of Nardò in Puglia which was completed in 1975.
The circular track has a 12.5 kilometre circumference and has four 4m lanes for cars and motorcycles totaling 16 metres in width and has a separate inner ring for trucks at a width of 9 metres. In the cars/motorcycle ring the lanes are banked at such a degree that a driver in the outer most lane doesn’t need to turn the wheel while driving at speeds of up to 240 kmph. In essence, at the so-called neutral speed which is different for the four lanes, one can drive as if in a straight lane. However extremely fast cars still require the steering wheel to be turned when going faster than the maximum neutral speed. In the process of fighting a turn as needed when going faster than the neutral speed quite a bit of potential top speed is lost and hence a fast car will go faster in a straight line than what is possible on the Nardó Ring. Even at the neutral speed, in a banked turn a car runs a bit heavier than it would in a straight line, since the downforce created by the banking increases the rolling resistance on the tyres.
The neutral speed for the four car/motorcycle lanes are respectively:
However the Nardo ring configured as an ‘endless runway‘ would mean this rolling resistance would help in braking a landing plane. TBC
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