From street car, to race car, to battlefield: new vehicle technology is far reaching

(WXYZ) - It’s no secret that when it comes to motorsports, General Motors has a pretty impressive track record.

So, what’s the one thing that keeps these race cars ahead of the pack? Tech-forward thinking.

"The defining features of a lot of our cars are the underpinning—the cars on which they are built—in order to have a great race car, you need a great street car," said Mark Kent, director of racing for Chevrolet and Cadillac. "In motorsports, we have a lot of the same goals as in production, we want cars that are high performance, yet efficient and reliable."

The tech transfer from the race car to the street car goes both ways. 

"We call it the ladder approach to technology transfer—we start off with a great street car, we race it, we develop pieces of that car, and we roll those into the next generation of that street car," said Mark. 

But it doesn’t just stop there; The cutting edge technology that is put into the race cars is also highly sought after by another organization, the U.S. Military. 

"They came to us and the racing community at large and said, 'what can we do to make the vehicles safer, what can we do to make them lighter, and make them handle better and more stable'," said Vice President of Engineering Services at Pratt and Miller Engineering Lynn Bishop. 

Pratt and Miller is General Motors' technical partner. They take the technology they use to develop the race cars and apply them to military vehicles.

"We’re continuously having to design and develop new systems-- trying to predict what our competition is going to be doing on the race track as well as what the bad guys are doing," said Lynn.

Of course, military and race cars operate on a different type of track, but the mission remains the same: occupant safety.

"So you see these safety cells that are in the race cars, we’re using the same tubular frame technology in the race cars and applying them to the military vehicles—that same stiffness, that same rigidity and the same durability that our race cars have to protect the soldiers," said Lynn. 

"You go to about any race here in North America and you see a tremendous presence of our troops, so it’s great considering everything that they do for us, to be able to give something back to them," said Mark.

From the race track, to your driveway, to the battlefield—the technology developed right in our own backyard will continue to shape the vehicles of our future. 

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