Downing/Atlanta Composites, Inc.
5096 Peachtree road
Atlanta, Georgia 30341 USA
Downing/Atlanta Composites has over twenty years experience in the production of strong, lightweight composite parts. After working for small race teams since 1975, manager Jerry "Rabbit" Lambert and his experienced crew began production of all body parts for the Lee Dykstra-designed Fabcar Porsche 935 chassis during the 1981 and 1982 seasons. This included the "buck" and molds as well as the body pieces themselves. The following years brought increased involvement in the racing industry with major projects including work on the very special Bob Akin Porsche 935 and the reproduction of body parts for Bob Tullius' Group 44 Jaguar as well as building all the body work for the later design group 44 Jaguar GTP cars.
Eighty-four and five were busy years with major projects, in addition to the Group 44 work, including the first American built parts for the Porsche 962, this for the Porsche 962 "Owners Club" whose members included Al Hobert, Bob Akin, Jim Busbee, Bruce Levin and Preston Henn. (Downing/Atlanta later was to build all 962 noses for Holbert and Porsche of North America.) That year also saw the production of body parts for the first Fabcar Camel Lights Car, as well as for March Cars of America. This was accomplished while also maintaining the March GTP cars of the Leon Brothers team.
Major projects in years 1986-88 included the reproduction of body parts for the Ferrari 312 updating them with lightweight composites for the vintage racing market, body work for the Camel show car, the Fabcar GTP car, and the Argo Camel Lights cars as well as the complete body work development project (buck, molds and parts) for Jim Downing's first Kudzu chassis, the DG1.
In 1981 Downing/Atlanta Composites was commissioned to design, mold and produce parts for Amos Johnson's new Team Highball MX-6 GTU car as well as for five other teams. The project was completed in only three months and the car won its class in the second race in which it was entered. Later that year the shop also completed molds and began making parts for the 1990 GTP cars for Spice USA.
The Mazda factory GTO RX-7 team cars were the major focus during the 1990 and 91 seasons. Mazda Team Manager Jim Downing and his experienced race team members prepared the cars which produced IMSA championships for both Mazda and Driver Pete Halsmer in '91.
Mid 1991 saw the beginning of construction of the buck for new body work for the restyled Kudzu, to be called the DG2. After final styling design, when wind tunnel tested, it was shown to have tremendous down force potential and was quite successful on road racing circuits.
In 1993 we were awarded the contract for the design and construction of molds and body parts for the Mandeville Auto Tech MX-6 race car. This car, built for the South African national racing series and powered by the Mazda four-rotor engine, was very successful with several wins.
Year 1994 was extremely busy for D/AC with a new premiere class for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) bringing open cockpit two-seater World Sports Cars to replace the former GTP racers. Downing/Atlanta Composites was able to quickly modify an existing three-rotor Kudzu chassis which allowed Team Downing/Atlanta co-driver Wayne Taylor to capture the inaugural WSC championship title.
During this same period, we were also involved in the construction of the Mandeville-designed Hawk WSC racer. The complete buck-to- molds-to -carbon fiber over honeycomb parts process was all completed in-house.
This same process was repeated for Team Scandia as a Kudzu WSC car. This was the first Downing/Atlanta chassis to incorporate a Chevrolet V-8 engine.
In the field of aviation, we began producing a composite light fairing for the Bell Jet Ranger and Long Ranger helicopter series having assisted its designer, AirChuck, Inc. in the FAA certification process. Made of Kevlar 49, it is a direct replacement for the original equipment system but with a brighter pulse light and a 200 foot diameter landing light. To date, well over 500 units have been produced.
In 1995, Team Downing/Atlanta made its first trip to the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans Race in France. Running the existing three-rotor Mazda Kudzu, the combined team of Downing/Atlanta and Mazdaspeed of Japan finished a respectable third in class and ninth overall its first time out. The team had a distinctly international flavor with crew members from America, Japan, England and Belgium and Drivers from America (Downing), Japan (Terada) and France (Freon).
After a taste of European road racing we were hungry for more and so began redesign of the car and track testing for the 1996 running. After competing at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, the most famous endurance races in America, the car finished first in class at Le Mans.
Also in '96 we completed work on the buck, molds and body panels for an RX-7 race car. Designed by Downing/Atlanta's David Lynn, the project was commissioned by Mazda Motorsports, the racing division of Mazda North America.
Year 1996 also brought composite work of a different nature. With Atlanta Olympic Games scheduled to start in July '96, Downing/Atlanta Composites was asked by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Administration (MARTA) to design and fabricate an emergency rail car evacuation bridge. It was envisioned as a way to transfer passengers from a disabled train to a functioning one without the need to step down into the area of the high voltage third rail at grade level. The design criteria included rigidity, light weight and the ability to be easily carried by one person. The project went from concept to design to production of an initial twelve units within a three month period. D/AC proved up to the task with approval by all.
Late '96 brought a new design project for another new Kudzu chassis, this one to use the exotic Mazda four- rotor engine. Of course, for a larger power plant, a larger car is required. So, again with Le Mans in mind, we started a new design, buck work, molds and parts including spares and paint work. The whole project needed to be completed and shipped to France by the end of April '97 for race prequalifying. We were able to meet the timetable as well as make changes before the June race where the car finished seventeenth overall. This was quite respectable for a brand new car considering that 31 of the 48 cars starting the race failed to finish.
In addition to work for Team Downing/Atlanta in '97, we did advanced composite work for Braselton, Georgia's Panoz Motorsports and their GT1 race cars. Downing/Atlanta Composites did all the hometown prototype work on the British designed and constructed bodywork as well as repairs, paintwork and production of new aerodynamic parts.
In addition to producing strong, lightweight racing car parts of the highest quality, Downing/Atlanta Composites was also the initial supplier of the yoke and collar portion of the HANS head and neck support racing safety device. Constructed of Kevlar, carbon, and S-glass fibers for light weight and high strength, HANS is worn on the upper body and connected to the helmet with a tethering system to reduce head motions, neck loads and the potential for injury and neck fatigue. The device was tested and approved by Daimler-Benz in Germany for use by its drivers in the FIA formula-1 series. It is now used by every driver in F1 as well as by drivers in every major racing series in the world.
We have also assisted in the development of several major automotive projects such as the Panoz roadster as well as cycling and sport boat applications. Downing/Atlanta, Inc's design department is also open for outside projects and consulting and offers computer assisted design as well as clay modeling services.
In short, we offer high quality, efficient work with quick turnaround on prototype parts. We can work from your drawings (or even from your ideas!) in any composite material and are open for any project large or small. Call Jerry Lamber at 770-457-1143 to discuss your needs.