1922 INDY 500: Two Boys, a Train and the Making of a Race Fan

Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance Here’s a short story to help you enjoy this year’s 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. In the spring of 1922, Alton Hartley was a college student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He and a friend decided they wanted to attend the 10th International 500 Mile Sweepstakes, as the race was then known, on Tuesday, May 30th. Having no car, Hartley and his friend needed a cheap method of transportation for the 65-mile southbound trip to Indianapolis and the local freight train beckoned. Hopping trains was illegal and considered trespassing in Read More

DRIVER EGO: The Key to Building a Successful Racing Series

. The Stephen Cox Blog is Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance The easiest way to increase car count in short track racing and amateur road racing is to keep your drivers happy. Really happy. Fortunately, there is a very effective and affordable way to do that. It was four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, August 29, 2004. It was blazing hot at the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit just outside of Tulsa. Although we missed the setup and were posting slower-than-usual lap times, we won the GT-2 qualifying race after the leader retired with a broken supercharger belt. I climbed out Read More

INDYCAR: What’s Missing at St Pete’s Season Opener

The Stephen Cox Blog is Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance Qualifying for an Indycar race is no longer considered a unique accomplishment in the auto racing world. Of course, qualifying well is still valued. But qualifying itself is not, because every team that shows up automatically makes the race. This is one of the unspoken differences between Indycar racing today and Indycar racing of the past. Once upon a time, simply putting the car in the field was a noteworthy accomplishment in motorsports because there were more teams, cars and drivers than available entry positions in America’s highest open wheel Read More

Are Grid Girls the Next Casualties in the War for Political Correctness?

Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance Auto racing’s long-standing tradition of grid girls seems to be in trouble. It was early 2015 when the World Endurance Championships (WEC) got rid of them, and Formula 1 may be next. Director Ross Brawn of Liberty Media, the new controlling group of Formula 1, recently said that the tradition of grid girls is being reconsidered. For the uninitiated, “grid girls” are the pretty women who stand beside the race cars prior to many events to hold grid markers and sponsor signs, and, well… look pretty. Traditionally, grid girls have dressed to Read More

THIS Will Bring Fans Back to the Races!

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

INDYCAR: Lyn St. James on Indy, Driving Again & Advice for Today’s Drivers

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

INDY 500: Bump Day Happened This Week And No One Noticed

Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance As most racing fans know, two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso is slated to run the Indianapolis 500 in a Honda-powered entry from Andretti Autosport. Less well known is the fact that my Electric GT Championship competitor, Stefan Wilson, was bumped out of his confirmed seat with Andretti so that Alonso could inherit the ride. In return for quietly stepping away from a confirmed Indy 500 seat, Wilson was promised a grab bag of favors including preferential treatment for a future ride. This deal makes sense for everyone on a lot of Read More

STEALING THE 500: The Story of Carroll Shelby’s 1968 Turbine-Powered Indycars, Part 2 of 2

September 7, 2016
Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance
 
 
(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.