T1 Turbine shows one possible road to open-wheel future

T1 Turbine shows one possible road to open-wheel future


T1 Turbine shows one possible road to open-wheel future


Keith Hylton knows the feeling of winning championships as an open-wheel racing team owner. The California-based businessman earned Atlantic Championship titles with Hoover Orsi and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the early 2000s, and with the ownership experience behind him, Hylton has turned his attention to building a futuristic race car that can replace some of today’s less inspired creations.

Dubbed the ‘T1 Turbine,’ Hylton’s idea of packaging some of racing’s most interesting – and illegal – technologies into a single formula was handled by conceptual designer Andries Van Overbeeke. Powered by a 700hp Rolls Royce turbine, and propelled through a constantly-variable transmission, the T1’s drivetrain has been banned from every major series for decades.

Having lost a driver who was killed from a head injury suffered during a World of Outlaws event, Hylton’s disdain for Formula 1’s halo and IndyCar’s windscreen led Van Overbeeke to employ a full canopy over the T1’s cockpit, and the choice of “graphene impregnated carbon fiber to increase the overall strength and rigidity” was made for the chassis, along with the car’s suspension and bodywork.

It’s an ambitious concept that Hylton has backed with his own money through the design stage, but it will take a purchase or two to get the T1 Turbine moving.

Provided the car makes it to the racetrack, Hylton told RACER the T1 “would be built as a proof of concept, then either [race in] its own series or replace the cars in a current series.”

Identifying a veteran race car designer to turn Van Overbeeke’s concepts into a fully-developed package, and a proven chassis constructor are also among the next steps for Hylton who said “the major monocoque builders are in Europe, [but] there are a couple of possibilities in the U.S. that we would look at first.”

Although Van Overbeeke’s T1 underwing is not a proper racing design, Hylton plans for the production version to use powerful ground effects tunnels that would generate enough downforce to run the car without front or rear wings.

“As long as we are tied to the wings for downforce they’ll exhibit their design limitations,” he added. “Wing damage is an everyday event that affects the racing and is expensive.”

Eliminating a traditional internal combustion engine for a long-life turbine is another area where Hylton sees an advantage with the T1.

“A turbine would last 10-plus seasons before even a major overall is required,” he said. “Engine costs should be reduced by 70 percent. [And] it’s a much simpler installation in that its air cooled.”