Noise monitoring specialist Cirrus Research has stepped in to help a champion racing family who could lose their licence over noise limit issues.

Morgan 18 and Caitlin 16, based in Yorkshire, race internationally on the dragster circuit, picking up national and international titles along the way. Supported by their parents Rachel and Duncan – both racing enthusiasts – the family travel to Europe every year to compete, with spectacular results.

However, racing comes at a price with health and safety paramount both on and around the track. Noise pollution has become much more of an issue over recent years with standards being scrutinised and tightened in races where competitors reach speeds of up to 85mph in less than 8 seconds.

Rachel explained: “Our daughters have raced junior dragsters since they were 8 and 10. We are governed by Motorsport UK and have yearly competition licences. Santa Pod raceway in Northamptonshire is now the only sanctioned track in the UK but we also take the cars to the Hockenheimring in Germany every August to race at the Nitrolympix; this is the largest drag racing meeting in Europe, in front of approx. 80,000 spectators with competitors from all over Europe and Scandinavia.

“Our eldest daughter Morgan won in 2017 and Caitlin came 2nd in 2016 and 4th in 2018. Caitlin is also the Lucas Oil National Champion for 2018, beating 32 other competitors so they have both done incredibly well.

“As with all forms of motorsport, noise is becoming an increasing factor and all of the sportsman classes in our sport are governed by noise limits, but this year is the first that the governing body is taking these more seriously and insisting that silencers be used if cars are above the limit for the class.”

“Our junior cars are half the size of the top fuel dragsters driven by adults but they can reach speeds of 85mph and have methanol engines so they are noisy. We have to be within 113 decibels limit in a static test and that’s why we have asked Cirrus Research to help us out.”

Cirrus worked with the Wilson family to get the most accurate noise measurements on the girls’ dragsters to see if they are currently coming under the noise limits laid down by their governing body. Over the 113db limit and the family have to look at various ways to limit the noise pollution such as using silencers or other noise limiting devices, which can reduce the horsepower of the single cylinder engine.

As drag races can be won or lost by 0.001 of a second, accuracy is key.

Cirrus used its Optimus+ Green, ideal for this type of outdoor environmental challenge, providing everything to measure both occupational and environmental noise to the fullest extent. It offers a full a range of features and functionality that allow measurements of multiple parameters simultaneously.

Built to UK, EU and international standards, the Optimus+ can be used anywhere in the world and is compatible with the Cirrus range of outdoor measuring kits.

Rachel added: “It’s important that we have the most accurate information to work with so we can make informed decisions about how we address any issues that arise from the tests.

The tests were carried about by Cirrus expert Jonathan Phillips. The initial test on the unmodified exhaust/engine came in a 126.2. Further tests with a noise suppressor attached at maximum revs brought that down to 120.9 but still several decibels over the 113db limit the Wilsons were trying to meet.

“Any modifications we make means that we lose the data we had on the previous engine – track conditions, temperature fluctuations – so that takes us back to Square One, it’s not ideal but at least we know now what we are dealing with.”

As well as being leading names in the international drag racing circuit the girls are also involved in the Dare To Be Different project, which is spearheaded by Suzie Wolff, ex Williams’s formula one test/reserve driver. This project is to encourage and inspire girls into all aspects of motorsport; from engineering, strategists and mechanics, through to a female formula one driver.

It is hoped the girls’ hard work and dedication will leave a lasting legacy, not only in their chosen sport, but in the wider world of motor engineering.

Optimus+ Green Key Features:

  • Covers all occupational noise measurements needs
  • Large screen makes the data incredibly easy to read
  • Lightweight and easy-to-hold shape designed for ease of use
  • Available as either a Class 1 or a Class 2 instrument
  • No complicated set up – just switch on, calibrate and start measuring
  • Bluetooth connectivity, allowing the device to be compatible with a smartphone
  • Temperature: Operating -10°C to +50°C, Storage -20°C to +60°C
  • Humidity: Up to 95% RH Non-condensing
  • Language options include: English, French, German, Spanish. Other language options may be available on request.

The Optimus+ range is also enhanced by the new dBActive smartphone app to enhance its popular Optimus+ sound level meter range. Available for both iOS and Android devices, it adds a range of new connectivity and functionality to the Optimus+ thanks to the latest Bluetooth technology.

As part of a raft of enhancements, measurements can be started, paused and stopped remotely, so the instrument can be used from up to 10 meters away – perfect for potentially dangerous or inaccessible areas.