Like most American kids that grew up in the 80's I watched the Indy 500 every year and became interested in motorsports thanks to that race, but I didn't really get hooked until I started watching Formula 1 racing in the late 90's. My favorite era were those years with the great Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher battles. (I was a Mika Hakkinen fan) So my fondness for Formula 1 waned once Mika retired and Schumacher started winning everything, even at the expense of his teammate Rubens Barrichello. My interest in F1 has only been lukewarm since.

Then I turned to Champ Car racing here in the US for my motorsports fix. However that was quickly extinguished once Champ Car and Indy Car merged and we were stuck with Tony George and his many foibles. (It was entertaining to watch the Hulman/George drama I'll admit.) My interest has been less than lukewarm with Indy Car lately, even without Tony George at the helm.

Over time however, the excitement I once had for motorsports has slowly gone. Maybe it has to do with my age, I don't know. But I think I will pour my efforts into my Trooper and my interests in the outdoors to add excitement to my life.

Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it. I will still post racing news when I find something interesting or noteworthy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

According to this 2002 screenshot Tracey did win the 500

Well fancy that.

95 Reynard

Now there is a rocket of a racecar. Funny how we can't seem to get back to that.

Helio, Shell gas station attendant

One thing IndyCar could do to improve itself is get rid of annoying drivers. Danica leaving for NASCAR is a start, Mr. Judd would be a welcome departure. Helio should have left years ago. He could make it as a Shell gas station attendant, let's hope he gives it a try.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What might have been

With the 2012 Dallara now on track for testing and the ugliness that has insued I yearn for what might have been with the Swift proposals.

Alternative aero kits delayed until 2013

(by Dave Lewandowski 8-14-11)

All IZOD IndyCar Series teams will utilize the oval and road/street course bodywork that is part of the Dallara Automobili chassis package with the next generation car for the 2012 season.

INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard told team owners of the decision to delay alternative aero kits during a meeting at New Hampshire Motor Speedway primarily because of cost concerns cost they expressed in May.

The rolling chassis -- dubbed the IndyCar Safety Cell -- remains on target to debut in competition at the start of the 2012 season. The sidepods and engine cover will be universal for the diverse set of racetracks, while Dallara-designed and -produced front and rear wings will be different for the ovals and road/street circuits. The 2012 schedule is expected to be announced by mid-September.

“The most important thing we can do as a series is look at what is in the best interest of both our long and short term,” Bernard said. "It is important that we maintain a high car count next year by ensuring we have cost containment for our teams. We must listen to our team owners and try to help. We don't want to see our car counts go from 26 and 27 down to 16 because of the aero kits. The manufacturers have told us it's very expensive and the team owners have told us it's very expensive.

"No one is more disappointed that I that we're not going to do it, but I feel this is by far the best decision for our series. The 2012 season will be exciting with the debut of our new car as we focus on relevancy and technology through engine competition, turbochargers and direct injection. From simulations we've seen on road and street courses that lap times are 3 seconds quicker and up to 15 mph faster."

INDYCAR announced plans for the car, which comes complete save for tires, the steering wheel and driver seat, in July 2010 after it reviewed multiple manufacturer concepts. It will replace the chassis that came on line in 2003 and was built solely for oval racing (the first INDYCAR road/street course race was in 2005 at St. Petersburg, Fla.).

There are cost reductions associated with the new car -- the $385,000 for the complete chassis package is about 40 percent less and the maximum engine lease agreement of $690,000 is about 30 percent less -- though the Firestone tire bill will increase $250,000, according to Bernard.

"We've got new engines and a new car next year so we can have another new story for 2013," Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti said.

New car project manager Tony Cotman said alternative aero kits will be introduced for the start of the 2013 season. All three engine manufacturers -- Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus -- have expressed interest in designing and supplying their own aero kits.

"By the time they get the new regulations and what is needed on the new car, they'll basically have a year to build and provide what's needed," Cotman said.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon was behind the wheel of the initial test of the prototype Aug. 8-9 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of our first test of the new chassis,” INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said. “Everything performed as we expected in this initial shakedown. All systems were sorted and checked, and we look forward to our next test.”

Fifteen other chassis test sessions, including four in the next 10 days, are scheduled through September. Engine manufacturers Honda, Chevrolet and Toyota -- each of whom has a chassis ordered -- are scheduled to begin testing their 2.2-liter turbocharged V-6 engines in early October. Teams are scheduled to receive their first chassis in mid-December.

Dallara's technology and manufacturing facility is under construction on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., where production of the new car is expected to commence early next year. Bernard noted that American manufacturers will be associated with the next-generation car.

"Quality and price are the primary objectives of everything we put on this car," he said.

On track for new era in 2012

(by Dave Lewandowski 8-8-11)

There weren’t any speeches or pyrotechnics. No fanfare whatsoever, save for a few seconds of self-conscious applause. But the broad smiles of individuals involved in getting the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for its initial test session neatly summed up the day.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, as is his custom, patted the black and red-striped Dallara Automobili-built chassis with the road/street course prototype body kit three times before climbing into the generous cockpit for the first of 12 scheduled days of itemized evaluation on three road course and three ovals.

A few minutes later, the roar of the 3.5-liter normally-aspirated V-8 engine as cars exited the appropriately-named Thunder Alley less than 24 hours earlier during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio was replaced by the smooth, higher-pitched sound of the 2.2-liter turbocharged Honda V-6 engine that will be among the three (Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus) implemented for the 2012 season.

“It’s a great day,” said project manager Tony Cotman, “to see the work of many individuals in a very short amount of time out on the racetrack. It’s the start of a new era for INDYCAR.”

Dallara’s proposal of a rolling chassis – a universal car dubbed the IndyCar Safety Cell that comes complete but for tires, the steering wheel and driver seat, and with different body coverings for ovals and road/street courses – was recommended to the sanctioning body by the seven-member advisory committee in July 2010 after it reviewed multiple manufacturer concepts.

It will replace the chassis that came on line in 2003 and was built for oval racing (the first INDYCAR road/street course race was in 2005 at St. Petersburg, Fla.).

The public will note the differentiation in bodywork on the variety of racetracks. Teams, according to Dallara U.S.-based quality control leader Sam Garrett, will appreciate the cost savings -- beyond the initial chassis purchase price -- in replacement parts.

"It's a lighter car, it has more horsepower and it has a lot less drag than the current car, so naturally on the right day it will go quicker and that's something that the fans have to look forward to," Cotman added. "I think it also will provide a different type of racing with different engine manufacturers, too. I will be interesting, it will be exciting and it will be a bit of a change."

A Dallara facility that will be open to the public is nearing completion in Speedway, Ind., where design, testing and production will continue.

“We’ve spent a lot of time trying to incorporate all the elements the ICONIC Advisory Committee asked for – safety, lower cost, something that looks unique,” Garrett added. “Our time has been focused on making the car safe and stable so that it is possible to put different bodywork styles on it to make it look unique.”

Systems confirmation will continue through the end of September, with the next test on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.

“We need to make sure the parts from all aspects of the car are achieving their goals so we’ve got aero targets and straight-line speed targets that we’re looking to see,” INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips said. “We want to make sure the basics are right first before we go pushing for those targets."

Engine manufacturers – each of whom have ordered a next-generation chassis – will commence testing in early October with their respective aligned teams. So far, Chip Ganassi Racing, A.J. Foyt Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports have signed on with Honda. Team Penske is the anchor team for Chevrolet.

Teams are scheduled to receive their first chassis in mid-December.

New 2012 Honda/Dallara Indy Car?

This spy photo was leaked to most automotive news outlets just days before the new 2012 car hit the track in Mid-Ohio for testing.