The 99X Electric in Miniatur Wunderland
“This is where the Porsche 99X Electric reaches its top speed,” says Gerrit Braun. He stretches his arm out over Monaco harbour and points to the long straight line bordered by high-rises, with spectators crowded on their balconies.
“It’s important to brake into the left-hand curve toward the casino.” The ideal place to pass, especially because visitors have the perfect view of all the racing action. Braun and his Miniatur Wunderland team in Hamburg first had to shrink Monaco. Monaco as the biggest challenge “We’ve been working on the motorsport project since 2015. It’s our biggest challenge to date,” says Braun. The 53-year-old and his twin brother Frederik founded Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt district 20 years ago. Monaco as the biggest challenge The entire exhibition space measures more than 10,000 square metres in size and, with around 1.4 million visitors a year, is one of the most popular attractions in Germany.
There are 9,250 cars, 269,000 figures, 15,715 metres of track, 1,040 trains with more than 10,000 carriages, 4,340 buildings and 130,000 trees. More than 300 employees have spent around one million hours creating an accessible microcosm of trains, ships, and airplanes in constant motion. At a scale of 1:87, many of the models are Porsche sports cars, including most recently the Porsche 99X Electric. Porsche Motorsport supplied the CAD data for the Formula E racer from Weissach.
The software responsible for controlling 20 racing cars was developed on Braun’s computer. The system responds to the driving manoeuvres of the other racers within 50 milliseconds, so each race is different. “Of course, we want to avoid that if at all possible because then the safety car has to come out and a couple of people are kept busy for some time,” says Braun.
While the race simulations are already running in the computer, Braun still has to teach the cars to accelerate at just the right moment. “The software always wants to maintain the lead, but sometimes you just need to slow down during a race. Programming all that is a complicated process.” The small electric cars are powered by magnetic fields.
3D-printed racing cars
While the software still needs some work, the racing cars are already raring to go. The chassis are painted over multiple times and faithfully reproduced down to the smallest sponsor stickers to reflect their full-size counterparts. The underbody conceals a Halbach array, a diamond-shaped panel that serves as the counterpart to the magnetic fields along the course.
“The crowning achievement of all our efforts,” says Braun. “Even more complex than the airport with its airplanes taking off and landing, which was commissioned in 2011.” The fact that the masterminds of miniaturization have been working on the ambitious idea of a real racecourse for six years demonstrates their passion as well as the sophistication of the project. According to Braun, the unsolvable problem with miniaturization is this: “We may be able to shrink down objects, but we can’t shrink down time.”
Info Text first published in the Porsche customer magazine Christophorus, No. 401.
Dec 25, 2021 at 16:46