Racing cars are one of the the prettiest cars in the world. They have a sleek look and combine form and function unlike anything else. But a common fact unknown to most is that some racing cars are smaller in size compared to sports cars when seen in real life.
Why so, you might ask? Well if you dive into the matter, there are two reasons for this:
While looking at a prototype racing car, our brain perceives some of the dimensions on that car. As a result, the human brain succumbs to an optical illusion while looking at the vehicle. Our eyes look across the car and the brain tries to scale down on certain aspects.
The one important feature the eyes lock into is the car's wind-screen. The wind-screen of an average prototype is tiny, resembling more of a view out of a post box. What our brain does is take that small glass and scale it up to a normal car size window. It stretches everything out to resemble a normal sports car we are used to seeing on a regular basis.
Different type of racing cars has different regulations while building them. Depending on class, a prototype has restrictions in length, width and height. Other than that, teams can make the car in whatever shape they desire.
A top priority for racing car-makers is that they have to keep the vehicle as aerodynamic as possible. In doing so, the automobile is shrink-wrapped around the driving cockpit and the engine to keep the frontal area as small as possible.
In contrast, Formula 1 (F1) racing series has deviated from this trend. Back in the day, F1 cars were also compact like the prototype racing cars but with time, this trend has been forsaken thanks to engineers wanting their cars to be faster and more aerodynamic.
So the next time you see a prototype racing car, try to find a reference so you could tell what scale the engineering is happening at. Trust me if you do so, you will never look at a prototype racing car the same again.