Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance The past few years have brought every gimmick imaginable to auto racing. NASCAR holds races that three people can win. The ever-changing playoff system (a gimmick in itself) functions like an automotive version of musical chairs. Indycar’s gimmicks are even worse. They tried mandating overpriced “body kits” to make their field of 33 identical Dallara chassis look like something other than a field of 33 identical Dallara chassis. Their “Fast Nine” and “Fast Six” qualifying gimmick hasn’t revived interest in pole day although it’s proven very effective at totally confusing fans. Instead Read More
May 23, 2017 Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance Indycar fans fell in love with Lyn St. James in 1992 when she won the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award and kicked off a decade-long open wheel career that would eventually include nine starts at the Brickyard. She worked her way up through the road racing ranks, starting with a 1970’s Ford Pinto as her first race car. It took four years of sponsor hunting before she was able to land an Indy ride with Dick Simon Racing, which specialized in bringing new drivers to Indianapolis. Although Read More
(Read Part 1 by clicking here) Ken Wallis was running out of time. Both of Carrol Shelby's turbine-powered cars were now at Indianapolis but they were nowhere near race-ready condition. His drivers, McLaren and Hulme, had only a six-day window before they returned to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix.
In a desperate bid to make the cars competitive, Wallis used a liberal interpretation of USAC's rules to design a new annulus (the engine opening that fed air to the turbine). When measured by technical inspectors, the annulus was under the legal 16-inch limit. But at full throttle on the race track, a variable valve system opened to permit greater air flow into the turbine. At best, this was a careful translation of the rules. If they were caught there was no guarantee that USAC wouldn't immediately disqualify the Shelby/Wallis Turbines. Such a move would be an unmitigated disaster not only for the team principals, but also for Goodyear, their drivers and their sponsors.
“When I was doing it, I got paid to drive. You were judged on your merit as a driver... not the check that you brought,” Darren Manning said while sipping an after-hours beer and relaxing in the lobby of his company's new facility on the west side of Indianapolis.
The safety cult storm troopers continue their assault on auto racing and this time, even Formula One cannot escape their regulatory clutches.
In reference to the current effort to mandate either the Halo or Aeroscreen head protection safety gadgets for the 2017 racing season, F1 race director Charlie Whiting said, “If we eventually need to add a couple of seconds to the time required to get out (of the race car), I think that would be a small price to pay.”
The Stephen Cox Blog is Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance
Jack Hawksworth is a nice kid and a good Indycar driver.
Some will take this column as a knock on Hawksworth, which is a complete misunderstanding of every word. It is no such thing. Ultimately, this is really not about Hawksworth at all. But his meteoric rise through the ranks exposes Indycar's gravest weakness and tells us a great deal about the inner workings of the series.
“After the latest tragedy in Indycar... it's time to shut down this ridiculously dangerous form of racing,” says Associated Press writer Paul Newberry in the wake of the tragic death of Indycar driver Justin Wilson.
A few years ago the late Mike Stephens, then owner of the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit in Oklahoma, helped me find a ride in an open cockpit Toyota World Sports Racer. I had no experience in the type and missed the podium in consecutive races.
Indycars will be faster this year. Recent testing at Barber Motorsports Park demonstrated that the new “aero body kits” generate far more downforce, which resulted in nearly every car in the field beating last year's pole time.
Brian Vickers is back. Again. After being forced out of NASCAR racing for the third time with a major medical issue, Vickers has returned to Michael Waltrip Racing after a successful heart surgery. I remember Brian well from his days in the Hooters ProCup Stock Car Series, where I was SPEED's pit reporter for nine years.