We visited Radical Motorsport to see how some of the fastest cars in the world are built | Taza Khabre

Radical motorsport is one of the best-selling racing car manufacturers in the world, producing record-breaking, high-performance racing cars for over two and a half decades. To understand Radical’s success, I went to see their humble factory in Peterborough, England.

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From the beginning, Radical’s philosophy has been to create exciting and dramatic racing cars with superbike technology in a lightweight package: they are the first company to build a superbike racing car using a dedicated drivetrain. This means that their cars are faster and more enjoyable to drive than supercars, perfect for hardcore racers or even casual track day enthusiasts. Radical has produced and sold more than 2,800 cars to more than 2,000 owners, making Radical racers some of the best-selling racing cars in the world. Radical doesn’t just make race cars, they’ve built a lot too series of races of the same brand worldwide since 1999, including one Arizona Challenge Cup and one in Nevada (Spring Mountain). Radical Cup North America is the premier Radical racing series in the United States, with four races in 2024 alongside IndyCar. Radical also has three racing schools across the country and ten dealers. If you like racing in Canada or Barbados, those places also have racing series and dealers. The racing pedigree doesn’t end there, Radical race cars have also competed in the Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Related: Check out this crazy Suzuki Hayabusa powered Radical SR1 race car

The radical chassis is created using a tubular structure

The first step to building a world-class racing car is to build the chassis. The chassis department consists of three main jig tables, each designed for a specific Radical model. Jig table number one sees production Model SR1 chassis, chassis for SR3 and SR10 models on jig table number two, and finally RXC chassis begin life on jig table number three due to their larger size.

Chassis manufacturing

All Radical models come with laser-cut spaceframe tubular chassis, where every part is welded together on a template table. The process of making tubes together starts at the floor plan and continues up the machine. As the chassis begins to take shape, the entire chassis is removed from the jig and turned upside down to finish off the hard to reach parts.
Radical chassis tubes, ready for production
Navid Hussain / HotCars / Valnet

Monocoque testing

The entire hull is then powder coated to give it a lovely smooth finish, followed by a section of the monocoque floor and side panels. The Radical’s chassis is rigorously tested to withstand 11 tons (11,000 kilograms or 24,251 pounds) in a rollover test. The side impact test involves six tons (13,228 lb) of weight applied to the side of the chassis for two minutes, and if the chassis sags more than 50 mm, the entire chassis is considered unsafe and discarded.

Features of the Radical SR3 XXR

power 232 hp
Engine SPE-Suzuki I-4
Capacity 1340 CC or 1500 CC
weight 1367 pounds
Dimensions 4077mm x 1799mm x 1093mm
0-60 mph 3.1 seconds

Cellular aluminum emergency box

The purpose of the cellular emergency box on the front of the car is to ensure the safety of the driver and passenger in a head-on collision. The reason aluminum is chosen for this important safety feature is its deformation properties, which effectively slows the vehicle down.

Creation of the body of a racing car from fiberglassRadical SR3 body part

The next stage of the process is body work. This is done using a wet layup process using a fiberglass body, the advantage of which is that the color is contained within the body, so there is no need to add more paint and therefore more weight.

Creating a body

First, the mold is cleaned and a release agent is applied to the mold. This is necessary in order for the body part to release properly from the mold when it is ready. After that, the desired body color is applied, which will make up the external visible parts of the car. After the fiberglass and resin mats are applied, they are left to cure for a minimum of 24 hours, but sometimes even longer for larger parts or components that rely on greater strength.

Resin molding as an alternative

Resin injection molding is another technique that can be used to create body panels. This means less wastage and more strength as the resin is injected through a partial silicone mold and then a vacuum is applied to force the resin into the fibers.

Processing process

After each body part has been removed from the mold, it is finished by specialist technicians who will ensure that any sharp edges and corners are smooth, creating an elegant piece of racing art that meets the demands of the track.

Radical stocks. Different forms

The Radical bodywork department has many molds, including those used on older models, so customers can be safe in the knowledge that they will be supported if they suffer any damage while racing.

Radical makes powerful Hayabusa and EcoBoost enginesRadical engine block

The Radical factory has a Performance Engine department where engines are tuned to match each specific race car model. For entry-level models like the SR3, Radical uses a Suzuki Hayabusa four-cylinder engine that the company buys directly from Suzuki in Japan. For some more advanced models, such as the SR8, Radical uses a 2.7-liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine with a Hayabusa cylinder head. This V-8 can produce over 410 horsepower. There’s also a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 Ford EcoBoost engine with direct injection and port injection used for RXC modelswhich is not bad for 650 horsepower.

Features of the Radical SR3 XXR

  • Gen 5 RPE liquid-cooled four-cylinder, 16-valve, 1340cc or 1500cc.
  • Lightweight FIA spec space frame chassis with roll cage.
  • Two-seater chassis with dual or single-seater options, optimized for use with a cast racing seat insert.
  • Formula XXR generation steering wheel with built-in LCD display, light shift paddles and steering wheel shift.
  • Radical quadruple calipers front and rear on fully floating 48-blade 280mm x 25mm disc brakes.
  • Six-speed built-in sequential gearbox.
  • Fully adjustable Nik-link suspension system, front and rear wishbones of different lengths, adjustable pushrods.
  • XXR radical design center lock, cast aluminum wheels with red accent.
When it comes to engines, Radical takes the job seriously. Thanks to the advanced engine management system, the engine is protected from damage during racing. It is for this reason that Radical offers a unique warranty on all of its engines; up to 40 hours between engine repairs.

Assembling a racing car is complex and takes several daysRadical SR3 during production

Once the chassis is ready, the entire race car needs to be put together. Each car is assembled by two engineers in each department within five days, sometimes even longer for larger RXC models. They will spend this time taking parts from pre-prepared construction carts that have all the necessary parts as specified in the bill of materials. The order in which the car is assembled is important: engineers will start with cables and fluid systems, as well as instruments and electronics. After that, the larger mechanical parts are installed, which include the steering, front suspension and braking system, followed by the engine and transmission. Once that’s done, it’s time to install the rear suspension and fuel injection system. Nik-Link car-mounted suspension impressive as it can gradually become stiffer in corners, providing a more stable ride when racing. Finally, side pods and cockpit surrounds were added.
A road-tested radical
Radical motorsport

Radical racing cars undergo extensive testing before leaving the factory

It is at this stage of the assembly process that the car is tested on the road to ensure that everything is assembled to a high quality and can withstand some of the loads that will be applied to it during its operation. Once it passes this stage, the aero parts and bodywork can be installed and the car starts to take shape and look a little familiar. When the cars are ready, they are finished and prepared to be shipped to customers around the world. Interestingly, the Radical SR3 has the exact dimensions to allow it to be transported in the cargo hold of a commercial airliner with the rear wing clipped back, meaning the rear wing is then removed and properly reattached when it reaches its destination. The next time you take a commercial flight to the US from the UK, a Radical race car could be sitting below you. The success and longevity of Radical Motorsport is no surprise when you see the work it does behind the scenes at the UK factory. Every part of the process shows quality and craftsmanship, evident in features such as bodywork and engines. For decades, Radical has been at the forefront of the industry, producing some of the best racing cars in the world and delivering impressive performance. Is it the most successful racing car manufacturer in the world? It is quite possible.

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