Milliken Research Associates: Equations of Motion=Poetry in motion, chapter and verse

Sponsor, Brands, Specialists and Suppliers: The Companies that supported the Chapman /Lotus Road & Racing Programme

Milliken Research Associates: Equations of Motion=Poetry in motion, chapter and verse


In this piece we are deeply indebted to Doug Milliken of Milliken Research Associates for direct first hand comments regarding their consultancy to Lotus.

Lotus cars sold

They were bought for their:-

  • Performance –road or track
  • Driving pleasure
  • Reputation and image
  • Aesthetics
  • Symbolism
  • Owner identification /personality extension etc.

All the above were integrated within a total framework design.

The above list is heavily dependent on a select group of components [either bought in proprietary or in house manufacture] that delivered the desired outcomes and met strict criteria.

On occasions Lotus used consultancy like Milliken Research Associates.

Many of these components often contributed significantly to the overall aesthetic, many are extremely functional and beautiful in their own right .They formed part of a complementary whole.

In this series we examine:-

  • significant Individual components from all the marque types
  • Briefly explain their role /contribution /evaluation
  • Analysis form and function with regard to their integration, where appropriate
  • Provide suppliers/specialist advertising materials where appropriate

Understanding Lotus’s use of proprietary parts provides invaluable learning opportunities not just historical but right up to the present day. These lessons are not just applicable to automotive engineers/ designers but to the wider Industrial /Product Design professions.

The Skillful and creative adoption, absorption and integration of components or indeed external specialist help was a powerful factor in the Chapman design methodology and contributed significantly to both competition and commercial success. It also feed his ability to mutate parts and services and materials to his desired ends.

The use of components is a fundamental skill of the Industrial Designer and the direct provision of added value.

The exact interpretation of sponsorship in conjunction with Lotus is difficult to establish objectively. The appearance of a sponsor’s logo on a car is not necessarily evidence of financial support. Access to historical archive and contracts is sought wherever possible but with the passage of time and for various reasons these are not always available or accessible to the public.

This series also embraces the specialist suppliers to Lotus. We are particularly interested in those suppliers and products that have a connectivity with aviation.

In constructing the historic sponsor series, the A&R looks only at the logos worn in period and assumes the company involved had no objection to Lotus promoting their products. The A&R sees much to be gained by the wider promotion of sponsors but in the event that a specific organization disapproves for any reason that article will be removed.

Sponsorship is an instrument of mutual benefit and promotion. Subscribers might like to see A&R articles on Sponsorship and Product Placement to understand the numerical / financial reach provided by sponsorship with its ability to identify and project status through identification.

The principle continues particularly with regard to education based exhibitions [see below for details]

Each of these articles is devoted to a company/ organization that is believed to have sponsored or supplied specialist items to Lotus.

The intention of each article is to: –

  1. Explain the sponsors own history and outline their products and services – past-present and future
  2. Explain the historical connection with Lotus and the contribution made both in competition and the production cars
  3. To suggest how these two interlocking facets may be translated into exciting, interpretive, educational and commercial exhibitions

Subscribers might to see complementary and structured pieces to this article: –

  • Primary sponsors like Gold Leaf / John Player Specials
  • Product Placement
  • Separate dedicated series on engines and gearbox
  • Logo on Lotus
  • Newton’s Laws

Milliken Research Associates Logo

Doug Milliken explains the origins:

“Bill designed his company logo, which combines:

+ A Bugatti radiator and positive camber wheels (like the T35A that he owned and raced)

+ With wings based on his first career in aeronautical engineering.”

Milliken Research Associates, USA Company Profile /Abbreviated summary

Vehicle dynamics and modelling consultancy relating to vehicle dynamic analysis regarding handling.

Milliken Research acknowledge the contribution made by Olley, respecting this we include details from this British engineer in the appendix below.

In the Chapman/Lotus era Milliken Research Associates was identified with the following as explained to us:

“As a result of his racing activity, he became interested in automobile stability and control and the potential for applications of aircraft technology. Under the sponsorship of General Motors, vehicle dynamics activity at CAL developed and substantiated the automobile dynamic equations of motion and developed the first variable stability (servo-controlled) cars. The first six-component tire testing machine was developed, leading to TIRF, the original high-speed, flat-belt tire tester which, some 30 years later, is still one of the most advanced tire testing machines in the world.”

“In 1976 Bill Milliken started his own consulting/research firm, Milliken Research Associates, Inc. (MRA). MRA engages in analytical and testing contracts over the range of vehicle dynamics topics. Original developments include the Moment Method approach to automobile stability and control, tire data non-dimensionalization, specialized computer programs for race application, etc.”

Milliken MX-1 Camber Car

“The Milliken MX-1 ‘Camber Car’ built during the 1960s.

This experimental machine was created to explore a wide variety of negative camber angles and their effect on the car’s handling. The car effectively consisted of two motorcycles leaning in. Although the MX-1 initially had problems running in a straight line, it could corner at remarkably high speeds. The issues were sorted by adding more castor to the front and rear wheels. Milliken extensively tested the car, initially on a small test pad behind his house but eventually he received a road registration, so Milliken could explore the car further on public roads.

Using a purpose-built tubular frame, the construction of the MX-1 started back in 1960 and it took seven years to complete. The suspension was of a conventional design with torsion bar springs. What was very unusual were the dozens of mounting points in the chassis, which allowed Milliken to vary the camber from 0° to 25°. Mounted amidships was a Mercury Marine two-stroke, flat six engine. It produced around 80 bhp and this power was fed to the rear wheels through a Volkswagen gearbox. The MX-1 was clothed in a simple, cigar-shaped body, resembling single seater racers of the day.”

Equations of Motion

“William F. Milliken’s handling research is fundamental to modern automobile design, and his definitive books on vehicle dynamics provide engineers and racers with practical understanding of chassis design for maximum performance. Equations of Motion is the story of Milliken’s lifetime of experimentation and innovation in vehicle stability and control.”

Doug recalls:

“In “Equations of Motion” there are several mentions of Chapman, including his offer of a Lotus to Bill and his co-driver for the Sebring 12 Hour one year (Chapman withdrew the invitation before the race).”

Lotus Connections

Doug Milliken informed us:

“My father, Bill Milliken* met Colin Chapman back in the 1950s and I remember meeting him at the USGP at Watkins Glen in the 1960s**.  Skipping ahead to the early 1980s, Tony Rudd introduced us to Peter Wright, and this led to about 10 years of Milliken Research Associates representing Lotus Engineering Active Suspension in USA.

** Bill was the Clerk of the Course for the first 10 years of the USGP at Watkins Glen.  I was often snuck into the pits as a child.”

“Toward the end of that period, Peter expressed an interest in some of our vehicle dynamics software and the “sponsorship” you mention was in exchange for a license to the MMM software.  From memory, the MRA logo*** was on the race car, next to the front wheels.  I don’t recall seeing any photos showing the logo, perhaps you can help here?” (Can any of our subscribers help?)

Again from my limited memory, I believe the period of MRA “sponsorship” appeared mid-season.  If our logo was on the race car, the decal may have been prepared separately?  We had been consulting for Team Lotus for several years before that on vehicle dynamic analysis, to help them understand details of car handling.”

We believe that Milliken were sponsors of Lotus 109 by providing consultancy.

Figure 1: Lotus 109 image from the net

Period Address for economic geography exercise

See Milliken Research Associates website for details.

Learning Opportunities

Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.

These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.

Understanding the potential of componentry particularly proprietary items provides some of the following learning opportunities; in this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-

Figure 2: Maurice Olley inspired many engineers including Campbell and possibly Costin and Phipps and Chapman. Editors sketch copying Olley’s original layout

Specific to Milliken Research Associates

  • Study Haskell, Campbell, Costin and Phipps, Staniforth, Milliken and Olley, to what extent do they explain or inspire Chapman?
  • Reading textbooks listed how important is Newton’s Laws and geometry to suspension and chassis design?
  • What is computer modelling? How has it changed and helped automobile design?
  • Milliken and Olley have tended to be underrated, suggest why
  • Milliken textbooks are difficult for the layman to comprehend, comment and suggest how it might be made accessible?
  • Make an annotate drawing of a Lotus suspension system noting the forces involved, what objectives were being sought and the constructional methods and materials to meet these
  • What is the size and value of automobile consultancy (think Milliken and Lotus )
  • How has it changed? And what is its future 2020 onwards?
  • Discuss the relationship with a multi-national mass-production brand/manufacturer and its links, how and why did it come into existence?


  • Use a technical dictionary where needed to define components and roles
  • Was there a viable alternative to the part under consideration?
  • Is what might it have been /cost?
  • Examine the suppliers/specialist advertising what does it convey? And what is its iconography?
  • Integrate this item with our series on the economic geography of motor sports locations and manufacturing bases
  • Has the component had exposure at any motor shows?
  • Does the company continue to supply classic/heritage parts?
  • What changes in technology and materials have impacted on Lotus through its history?
  • How does component design impact on form and function
  • Does the supplier/specialist have aviation links? If so what?
  • What is the importance of ergonomics and how does it influence modern automobile design?
  • Does excessive safety/ and or ergonomics impact negatively on aesthetics
  • What is the impact of standardization of platforms through mark ranges and indeed shared with other manufacturers? Could uniformity ultimately impact on sales even if economies of scale improved?
  • Enumerate Lotus bought in components
  • How has mass production and proprietary parts assisted the specialist car market?
  • Produce an engineering drawing of a selected component and consider the specification of the materials and assembly process, costs and volume
  • Explore an enumerate supplier/specialists components used in other Industrial Design fields
  • How did the supplier/specialist extract value from their sponsorship/support?
  • Explore Graces Guide for further background detail
  • Study the economic geography of the British auto industry what factors determined locations?
  • What have been the causes of change and circumstance that have impacted on British motor industry?
  • What has been the role of F1 /motor sport valley based around Bicester?
  • What is the importance of outsourcing to the motor industry?
  • Study a British car specialist like Morgan, TVR, Ginetta or Lotus where do they source parts? What are the advantages?

Exhibitions, Education, Economics and Entertainment

In the museum context the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested outline Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In this instance we suggest the following exhibition titles might be appropriate:-


Milliken Research Associates Computer models the guiding Light
Milliken Research Associates Computer models the disc drive
Milliken Research Associates Computers, chassis and main frames
Milliken Research Associates Computers, racing and circuit boards
Milliken Research Associates Computers, mathematics and Coefficients
Milliken Research Associates Computers and the straight line
Milliken Research Associates The triumph of Triangulation
Milliken Research Associates Mathematics, aerodynamics and parallel planes
Milliken Research Associates Graphs and Learning Curves
Milliken Research Associates Forces, sources and courses, science on track


  • Lotus Parts: Past ,Present Future
  • Lotus Parts: The Winning Factor
  • The Principle Part
  • Act the Part
  • Assign the Part
  • Lotus Components
  • Lotus Components :Parts and Parcel
  • Lotus Sponsors, Specialist and Suppliers:Form,Function and Forte
  • Lotus Components:Parts and Partiality
  • Lotus Aesthetics : With little to spare
  • Lotus Cars: Spare and Slender
  • Product launch with title of dedicated specific relevance

Conclusion: “The whole is greater………”

Lotus to the 1990’s and early 21st. Century

The editors follow Taylor’s example and primarily trace Lotus development into the 1990’s.

We do so for the following reasons:

  • To study continuity and benchmarking between the eras of Chapman and note the evolutionary trends with changing technologies and related factors
  • We attempt to be comprehensive and inclusive attempting to avoid over concentration on this halcyon era
  • Although less equipped to discuss the advanced technologies we attempt to provide a coverage, thereby addressing generational perspectives

Japanese contribution

Milliken Research Associates sponsored Lotus in the last stages of their linkages back to Chapman.

Taylor records their 37 seasons in the background context of the type 109 .In the 1990’s Lotus were not fully competitive and were suffering finance difficulties in the F1 programme.

It’s important to explore Honda‘s involvement in motorsport to the present day.

We suspect that the possibility many Japanese industries sponsored Lotus because of the Honda engine.They possibly did this from loyalty but also significant commercial advantage.National interests have played an important role in the history of motor sport and this ought be studied for its multi-faceted interactions.

Although our economic geography exercise tends to concentrate on the UK, it’s important to recognise changing manufacturing patterns and locations, the causes and effects.

There can be little doubt about the contribution made by Milliken Research Associates They possibly assisted Lotus in many ways.

Milliken Research Associates and Olley made import inroads into the theory and practice of automobile Suspension, they have perhaps not had the credit deserved. They assisted both the European and US brands and probably F1 more than generally acknowledged.

Their textbooks although perhaps difficult for the layman are often the bible to F1 teams.

The formulas established along with computerisation have probably helped more than imagined in the search for optimization across infinitesimal incrementally gains along with the ability to ripple through consequences and impacts.

It’s very possible that computers do not just supply mathematical answers but might be programmed to explore options and then progress through design and specification ready for manufacture.

Consultancy like Milliken Research Associates and Lotus make cost effective solutions to many manufacturers although perhaps this might not always be recognised.

Components were material to reliability and competitiveness but also the intellectual, mathematical applications of theory conducted through computers and professional engineers with massive experience like Milliken Research Associates gave knowledge, solutions and the minutiae to gain success.

Doug Milliken tells us:

“As a general comment, we view engineering analysis software (like the MMM software used by Lotus) as a tool.  The software is one of many tools in the engineer’s toolbox, but it is not a substitute for competent and creative engineers.  In many places you equate MRA and sponsorship with parts or components, but I find this misleading, since nothing that we supplied is directly used on the car.  Instead, the software tools expand the capability of the engineer to examine car performance in more detail and in ways that are not easily done by hand calculation.”

Chapman’s design and manufacturing methodology rather confirms the adage that “the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts”.

It’s an interesting an important study to consider deployment of components and applied intellectual consultancy. It contributes to aesthetics, performance assembly economics and sales [attractive components/ known accepted performance and servicing ability etc.]

It is equally and mutually relevant and beneficial to the component manufacturer or service supplier

Chapman and his colleagues often took the best / most appropriate mass produced item or professional disciplines and almost reinvented it in its service to design objectives. In this manner many components acquired a new status and indeed their aesthetic was enhanced surrounded by the Chapman conceptual whole.

It’s also extremely significant how many of these components were also used in Lotus competition cars. This created a powerful dynamic and interrelationship. Many components:-

  • Performed well in competition gaining beneficial publicity and sales
  • Both the component and racing reputation carried through to road cars and assisted sales
  • The component manufacturer gained disproportionate publicity and assisted products sell in other applications
  • All together a beneficial spiral was commenced. Publicity of the era often opted to highlight the Lotus dimension in publicity material. In fact there was a powerful synergy.

The relationship between Lotus and is sponsor specialist suppliers is significant and worthy of close study and has lessons for Engineering, Industrial Design and Manufacturing disciplines.

Along the way it’s possible too to study the wider British motor component industry and professional disciplines and how it has helped foster the specialist car manufacturers.

Sponsorship is a worldwide phenomenon of immense commercial impotence. Both to host and sponsor organization.

With the Passage of time it’s likely to become more sophisticated and focused and the internet /multimedia technology will play greater role.

Sponsors have existed in motorsport before Chapman but he vigorously exploited the concept with Gold Leaf c 1967/68 and set a pattern for others to follow.

Sponsors of Lotus were likely to benefit financially and in terms of exposure to an extent greater than their investment. The benefits were, and remain essentially similar to present day:-

  • Access to mass international audience consistent with mass production distribution marketing branding etc.
  • Demographics of viewing audience and interest groups
  • Additional subsidiary /secondary advertising through media, news, magazines etc.
  • Identification with market /brand /marque leader in both F1 and road cars
  • Association with success and continuity evolving, developing technology, materials etc.
  • In period the identification with the charm ,charisma and ability to articulate that Chapman possessed
  • All the attendant glamour , drama ,danger ,and spectacle of F1
  • Ability to provide conducive hospitality to conduct business
  • Cost effectiveness of audience cost ratio
  • Possible further complex corporate benefits

Appendix 1: Context and operation of sponsorship from the net:-

  • Learn how sponsorship motives have evolved.
  • Be able to differentiate between advertising and sponsorship.
  • Learn the advantages of each of the key promotion tools.
  • Identify the six categories of sponsorship opportunities.
  • Distinguish between self-evident and strategic linkages.
  • Learn the trends in spending on sponsorships.
  • Gain insight as to how ambush marketing and leveraging play roles.
  • Develop a basic understanding of the three special cases of sponsorship.
  • Identify the five key sponsorship objectives.
  • Learn the importance of each sponsorship objective.
  • Understand the concept of matching.
  • Learn the potential components of a sponsorship plan.
  • View a comprehensive example of a sponsorship.

Gain an awareness of controversies regarding sponsorship.

Appendix 2: Theoretical Works

Chassis Design: Principles and Analysis (Hardback)

William F. Milliken, Douglas L. Milliken

ISBN 10: 0768008263 / ISBN 13: 9780768008265

Milliken has authored, or co-authored the following books:

Appendix 3: Maurice Olley

Chassis Design: Principles and Analysis

“Maurice Olley, one of the great automotive design, research and development engineers of the 20th century, had a career that spanned two continents. Olley is perhaps best known for his systematic approach to ride and handling. His work was so comprehensive that many of the underlying concepts, test procedures, analysis and evaluation techniques are still used in the auto industry today. Olley’s mathematical analyses cover design essentials in a physically understandable way. Thus they remain as useful today as when they were first developed. For example, they are easily programmed for study or routine use and for checking the results of more complex programs.

Chassis Design: Principles and Analysis is based on Olley’s technical writings, and is the first complete presentation of his life and work. This new book provides insight into the development of chassis technology and its practical application by a master. Many examples are worked out in the text and the analytical developments are grounded by Olley’s years of design experience.

Table of Contents:

  • Maurice Olley – His Life and Times
  • Steady-State Cornering – Slip Angle Effects (Primary)
  • Steady-State Cornering – Steer Effects (Secondary)
  • Transient Cornering
  • Ride
  • Oscillations of the Unsprung
  • Suspension Linkages
  • Roll, Roll Movements and Skew Rates
  • Fore-and-Aft Forces
  • Leaf Springs – Combined Suspension Spring and Leverage”

Quotation from Olley:

“The entire history of mechanical engineering is of learning through failure. The prima donna type of mind is useless in engineering.”

“Mr. Olley offers no apology for injecting ride into the discussion, because, he says, “this is the reason why front suspension has been changed”. He adds: “It has always seemed to me that the most interesting thing about any design is not the design itself, but the reason behind it.” This paper gives the reasons.”

Figure 3: Image from the net probably drawing for patent application, note and compare with Chapman for patents applying to Strut, Elise and monocoque chassis type 25

Appendix 4: Peter Wright Report

Doug Milliken tells us of Peter’s writing:

Some of Peter’s experience with the software was summarized in this 1994 SAE technical paper,


Marks of Excellence.P.Mollerup.Phaidon Press.1997.

ISBN: 0714838381

Graces Guides

Internet websites and local History

Aircraft of the Fighting Powers.Cooper&Thetford.Vol.1.Aircraft [Technical] Publications.1940.

An extensive bibliography is provided in A&R article on John Players Specials/Gold Leaf

Industrial Design A-Z.C&P Fiell.Taschen.

ISBN: 3822863106

Lotus Book.Taylor.Coterie.1998.

ISBN: 1902351002

Art of the Formula 1 Race Car. Mann, Codling.Motorbooks.2010


Lotus 24, 25, 28, 29, 33.Unique.

Lotus 49, 49B, 49C, 49F.Unique.

ISBN: 1842555185

International Corporate Identity.Olins.Laurence King.1995

ISBN: 1856690377

International Motor Racing 1978.Ed by B.Gill.Macdonald and Jane’s.1978

ISBN: 035409033X

The International Motor Show. Offical Catalogue.1966

Motor Racing Directory 1955-56 [Ed by staff of “Motor Racing”] Pearl Cooper.

Motor Racing Directory.Kettlewell.

ISBN: 0906556007

Autosport A-Z Motorsport Directory. [Annual editions] Haymarket

The Automobile.Reyat.Chand.2013.

ISBN: 8121902142

Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology.Hillier & Pittuck.Hutchinson.1967.

Lotus 49.Wagstaff.Haynes.2014.

ISBN: 9780858334121

Lotus 72.Wagstaff.Haynes.2012.


Colin Chapman.Lawrence Breedon.2002.


Colin Chapman.Ludvigsen.Haynes.2010.


Coventry Climax Racing Engine’s.Hammill.Veloce.2004.


Lotus, Coventry Climax and Cosworth Engine’s.Pitt.Unique

Automobile Suspension.Campbell. Chapman and Hall.1981


Racing and Sport Car Chassis design.Costin and Phipps.

  • Publisher : Bentley (Robert) Inc. US; 2d Ed edition (12 Dec. 1965)
  • Language: : English
  • Hardcover : 147 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0837602963
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0837602967