The Captain Weighs In

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A little over a month ago, I posed the question as to why so many of the owners had been so noticeably silent on their opinion of the DeltaWing concept. Other than Chip Ganassi, Kevin Kalkhoven and John Barnes who were extremely vocal in their support of the project, most of the owners were strangely quiet – especially Roger Penske – as they refrained from sharing their opinions.

Well, The Captain has spoken. During the extended race weekend in St. Petersburg, Roger Penske weighed in with his take on the 2012 chassis proposals. The verdict was not great for the DeltaWing concept, nor was it good for proponents of the Lola, Dallara, Swift or BAT. In fact, if you believe in the influence of one man whom I consider to be one of the most powerful individuals in all of motorsports – it may actually improve the chances of the DeltaWing becoming reality one of these days since it would give them more time to develop the controversial concept.

Penske favors change over time rather than making wholesale changes in 2012. He believes the Izod IndyCar Series would be better served to introduce new changes to the current Dallara chassis and have Dallara develop an affordable update kit to improve the performance as well as the appearance of the present car.

The fear is that the health of the smaller teams would be compromised at this point in the current economic climate, if everyone were forced to incur the cost of a new chassis. Penske says that it created no new excitement when NASCAR went to a new car a few years ago, after running the same car for ages. He concluded by saying that a new chassis would not bring fifty thousand new fans to the track and that they should concentrate on promoting the drivers, teams and sponsors at this time.

Well, this puts a whole new spin on things. While his IICS team has only won one championship since it migrated from CART in 2002, compared to the three that Target Chip Ganassi has won in that time – Roger Penske still carries more influence than any other owner in the paddock. A lot of the owners will not agree with a lot that he says, but when he speaks out on an issue – it is generally hard to argue against him or his track record.

As much as all of us have wanted to see new cars in the series for the past several years, it could be that it just isn’t the prudent thing to do. Team Penske can certainly afford new cars. So can Ganassi’s team and a few others. But many teams on the lower end of the scale are struggling to stretch their budgets to make it through the end of 2010 – with cars they have owned since 2003 when this version of the Dallara made its debut. Roger Penske has no interest in racing against six other new cars while all the others have fallen by the wayside, simply because the league decided the best way to get new fans was to unveil a new, sexy car.

Credit new CEO Randy Bernard with forming a task force to recommend what is best for the entire league – not just a select few teams. These are strange times that most of us have not seen in our lifetime. Families and businesses are having to sacrifice and make decisions that ten years ago seemed unthinkable. This goes for sports entities as well. When this version of the Dallara hit the track in 2003, no one would have guessed that it would still be running in 2011…or possibly later.

Even the most optimistic fan will admit that things have gotten stale on the track with the Izod IndyCar Series. The cars and engines running today are identical to every car that ran in 2006 – with the exception of a Panoz running at a few road courses in 2006 and its final appearance at Indy in 2007. While CART of the nineties changed its equipment every single year, the IRL built its model on two chassis that would provide update kits every year and change its chassis every three years in order to save costs. After 2003, something happened to that part of the business plan.

When Honda became the sole engine supplier beginning in 2006, they made it clear that they preferred competition at that time. That may have changed in the last year or so, but most fans want several engine manufacturers as well as different types of chassis. It’s the variety that made this sport so appealing and I hope that it can get back to that one of these days. But it might be wise to take a step back and realize that it might be best to make the changes slowly and do it the right way, rather than make a lot of radical changes in the name of getting new fans.

There are so many things I would like to have personally. I am probably the only IndyCar blogger out there that doesn’t own a laptop. Every other night, I pound away on my ancient bulky desktop computer. I am dying for a laptop, but given the financially disastrous 2009 that I went through, I know that it just isn’t the wise thing to do at this time. One of these days, I’ll get one – possibly sooner than later if the old desktop finally gives in to the symptoms it is showing.

It’s the same with the IndyCars. I want to see new cars. I don’t know of anyone who says that they want to continue to see those old Dallaras out there. They were ugly when they were new. Now they’re ugly and old. But there are plenty of them out there and unless you’re buying one new – they are very affordable. Keeping these old Dallaras would not be a popular move or a sexy one…but it may be the right one.

As usual, it would be wise to listen to Roger Penske. The man has a history of usually making the right decision at the racetrack and in the boardroom. Danny Sullivan once said, “…when the music stops, Roger always has a chair”. He got where he is by being smart and not making foolish decisions. Our emotional side wants to see new and sexy looking cars at all the tracks right now, not in 2012 – but our practical side tells us that it might be wise to go with new engines first, and keep those old cars around a little longer. Or else a lot of the teams may not be around much longer.

George Phillips

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58 Responses to “The Captain Weighs In”

  1. I think a lot of people would be disappointed with no change in the chassis in 2012, but I don’t think it would be the end of the world. If they can keep the oval racing close, I’d be happy.

    Additionally, I am very happy that the car count is so good right now, and to me, that is more important. If a new chassis in 2012 is going to diminish car count significantly compared with 2013, I’d rather wait.

    • WHAT :?: The current Dallara will be in its 11th SEASON in 2012 :shock: Add to the fact that the Dallara doesn’t look that much different than the 1st GEN DALLARA :!: :!:

      A chassis design that old would (should) qualify for VINTAGE RACING :!: :idea: Barber Dodge kept good car counts too with (they kept their 1st chassis for like 15 years…) Even their new ones still use DODGE engines after the series became the Barber MAZDA Pro Series (3 seasons ago):!: :!: :!:

      Indycar is not a junior OW training series…. it needs to showcase NEW & CUTTING edge to sponsors if they expect to charge MILLIONS for yearly sponsorship. Good “car counts” will be temporary if sponsor value continues to fall off as dramatically as it has.

  2. The American Mutt Says:

    The main reason I want a new chasis? They’re racing on streets/roads in a car that was never designed to do it, and you can clearly tell as they lumber around right hand turns. The reason the COT did nothing for Nascar wasn’t because no one cared, it was because the racing actually got worse, not better. Whether or not a new chasis would make for better competition on the road/streets, that I don’t know. It’s not THAT ugly, and I could live with it another season or two, were it only in use on an oval.

  3. As this group of 7 develops it seems that Roger Penske is just saying the obvious.
    Roger uses the old-school philosophy of racing cars on Sunday and selling cars on Monday…good old-fashioned American business values except the sales are down- The other group that is so insistant on the Delta Wing reminds me of the USF1 dilema in Dex’s series of cartoons-
    The current IRL race cars aren’t that ugly…nothing like the LeMans cars -that are the bomb,BTW but kinda ugly.
    A new Dallara at 1/2 price made in Indianapolis sounds great in this economy.
    George probably won’t be in the rediculous line for the new I-pad but there are great buys on EeePC’s (Net-book) with a 12 hour battery..a good compromise-
    Everyone is trying to save their cash, the Hulman sister’s were so smart to hire Randy, although I bet he is being wooed and shmoozed.

  4. Penske makes sense, he should start a business or something…

    Switching to a new chassis now–just as the series is starting to makes gains in the car count–could certainly limit or shut down some smaller teams.

    A technical question–if the old Dallara is clunky on twisties because it was designed for ovals, then which type of race course is the new chassis to be designed for? Is it possible to design a chassis that runs well on both or do you have to favor one type of track over the other?

    Tech question #2–if they do pick a new chassis first, will that limit the type of engine they can choose?

    • IndyFanMarquis Says:

      While I am by no means an engineer or in the racing industry, I have been around long enough to be able to somewhat answer your questions.
      1. Race car design, actually any car road or track, is a compromise. And there has been no greater compromise in design than an IndyCar when it comes to racing. While generally they always have been designed for ovals, over time the cars have been designed to be converted back and forth between the two disciplines; especially during the CART days. The problem with the Dallara is that when it came on, the IRL was mostly an oval series, and the cars were designed as such. They had to be modified with update kits to be able to turn right effectively. To be honest, I think Dallara did a good job to get the chassis to work, but the pace and agility of the car shows that road racing is not the cars specialty. To answer part two, yes it is possible to accommodate both in design, but the car will always be a compromise. An F1 car is lightning fast around a road course because they are designed with only that ability in mind. If Bernie Ecclestone one day decided to go oval racing
      (never in a bajillion years!), the teams would moan and groan because they would basically have to redesign their cars somewhat with that type of racing in mind.
      2. I don’t think anyone can answer this question besides the manufacturers and the League. The Delta Wing Group says that you can drop just about anything into their chassis, however; none of the other potential manufacturers have specifically stated that you can or can’t. I will say that it seems the other manufacturers designs are based off of a single spec of engine, however; I’m sure they can accommodate any engine as necessary with updated parts. The question is, what will this cost? Sorry about the super long reply.

      • thanks, marquis. very helpful.

      • I just want to know where I can find a “Sunday” Dallara-Honda on “Monday” :wink:
        :)

      • At the used Honda Lawnmower store…

      • There is a new Indy 500 pace car for sale on Mondays-http://motorcrave.com/2010-chevy-camaro-indianapolis-500-pace-car-limited-edition/6620/

      • Andy Bernstein Says:

        To Redd:

        Designing a single chassis for all circuits is not a major obstacle. Marquis referred to why this issue has become part of the discussion: The Dallara I3 is a circle track design.

        Andrea Toso, Dalara designer:

        “As I see the car design now, it is uselessly over-engineered, with too many options, too many parts. Two different front noseboxes (road course and superspeedway), spool and diff, two different left hand suspensions (for ovals and road courses), two different brake packages (road courses and ovals). With a new design many of these options can go away, parts should and could be designed for multiple functions. This will reduce the inventory, increase quantities and cut costs.”

        Any new chassis will be better capable of meeting the varying demands, at least as they stand today.However, none of them can be completed and moved off of the computer screen until the engine configuration has been selected.

        Delta has begun prototyping, only because they selected their own engine to install. A bit of a gamble to presume that an inline 4 cylinder turbo will be accepted: Bruce Ashmore of BAT seems to think a V6 wil be the choice, as Honda has stated that platform as its preference. IICS stated preferences have been for a four cylinder non-stressed architecture.

        Delta’s design will be the LEAST adaptable to alternate engine installation, which their choice of a $150,000 AER engine exemplifies. It is a stressed engine design. It’s the only current racing engine anywhere close to light enough in weight to be compatable with their design.

        Any of the other chassis can be drawn around any engine architecture that is specified: but until the IICS makes that move, nothing more than renderings will be forthcoming from the race car constructors.

      • Doubt the Dallara-Honda will cut my grass & when Honda starts selling GM engines for the Camaro… let us know about that.

        So much for win on Sunday & sell on Monday :idea:

  5. Andy Bernstein Says:

    From “responses” to “The Delta Wing Quandry”, this blog, Jan.22, 2010

    Excerpt:

    So adoption of a completely new specification brings with it some added cost. New setup and maintenance equipment will be required. And the Dallara chassis will immediately be devalued to nil when the orders are placed for its successor.

    Excerpt:

    I’ll stop the list for now, but it all points to my preference for an evolutionary replacement. The fragile finances of many of the teams makes my best argument for a gradual transition: perhaps an equivalancy regulation will be required, but the mandated purchase of new equpment should not be.

    This course enables the Dallara to run, until all competitors have the means to replace it.

    • Andy,
      OK, I’ve simmered down since the other day when I yelled at you at Planet-IRL. I was probably mostly miffed that I didn’t think of your point first. I’ll stand by my statement that your argument that the Dallara needing to be held over as a grandfathered chassis was a necessary evil won’t be a very popular topic among blog-o-types (people would rather argue pros and cons of pretty pictures, myself included), but it’s a valid point nonetheless. Sounds like the idea is gaining some traction, which, although I wish that everybody could go to a new chassis in 2012, that clearly isn’t feasible, so holding the Dallara as a legal chassis is a good call.

      The engine thing must be dealt with, right now, which is something that I’ve been calling for since last summer and earlier (I actually called in to Cavin & Kevin’s inaugural Blogger Night on said topic). I hope that Randy gets some details on the Global turbo engine, and then gets the panel on it, like, the next day.

      • Andy Bernstein Says:

        That’s cool, an apology for the “restraining order ” cheap shot you took on TF and we’re all square.

        Bloggers are free to write whatever they blogging well want, and I don’t have to join in. I’m looking for answers and constructive criticsm. Period.

        The Audi Global is not yet a reality as far as I know, nor is it the best choice. Or the only choice.

      • TF? As in “Track Forum”? I see after doing a quick Google search that there is a “speedgeek” on there, but I assure you that is not me. I haven’t spent more than 10 minutes in any calendar year on racing forums since about 1997, and until this morning, I never spent so much as a single minute on Track Forum. 1997’s about the time that I figured out that the number of crazy, point-missing, inflammatory posts outnumbers the reasonable, well thought-out posts by a ratio of about 20 to 1. I’ve got better things to do than argue with people who have no interest in hearing me out.

        I’m intrigued, though. What do you think the best choice for IndyCar engine going forward might be? Personally, I’m not wild about the 1600cc GRM thing, but that’s just because I’d like for the IndyCar engine to be about 2-liters with a turbo. I’d vote for open-configuration (I4, V6, diesel, petrol, bio-whatever) while using a basic common ECU to limit costs somewhat. Limit the amount of stuff that the manufacturers can tune, software-wise, and you’ll limit the amount of cubic dollars they can throw at the hardware. That’s just my opinion, though. Thoughts?

      • Andy Bernstein Says:

        Speedgeek,

        Thanks, glad to read that was an imposter on TF.

        The AER that Bowlby is using already has engine management, if Delta buys what has already been proofed: the Dyson Lola package.

        The GM Ecotec 2.4 Liter (likely destroked to 2.0 for performance reasons) is the package I am looking at now, with nothing but affirmatives from people who know a lot more than me so far.

        Here’s an additional partial list of other candidates which would fit 2.4L or less:

        AER P0 17 2.0L
        Ford Duratec 2.3L
        Toyota 503E 2.1L
        Toyota (Lotus) 2ZZ-GE 1.93 L
        Subaru EJ20 2.29L

        Production engines now being sold or in development for road car use:

        2010 Buick LaCrosse, Ecotec 4 cyl. turbo
        2010 Chevy Cruise, Ecotec 1.4 4 cyl. turbo
        2010 Hyundai Genesis, 2.0 4 cyl. turbo (212 HP)
        2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2.0 4 cyl. turbo (274 HP)
        2010 Audi A5, TFSI 2.0 4 cyl. turbo (211 HP)
        2010 Audi TTS, TFSI 2.0 4 cyl. turbo (265 HP)
        2010 VW Passat, 2.5 4 cyl. turbo (200 HP)
        2010 Mazda CX7 2.5L 4 cyl. turbo. Replacing their existing 2.3 (244 HP)

        Now under development:

        2011 Ford Edge, EcoBoost 2.0 4 cyl. turbo (230 HP)
        Ford F-150 truck may get the same powerplant
        2011 Porsche Boxter 2.0 or 2.4L 4 cyl. inline turbo. This will be a new engine, or the TFSI platform from Audi
        Mercedes F800 Style coupe. AMG is developing a 2.0 4 cyl. turbo (300 HP)
        Volvo S80, S70, XC60 2.0 4 cyl. turbo (203 HP)
        BMW 4 cyl. turbo (diesel) planned for U.S. market

        Likely all will be alloy blocks, so the strength issue that oldwrench brought up is entirely correct. Most of the stock blocks won’t handle the power. That means a bespoke block, like the AER or Global. Sounds expensive to me.

        The first seven engines idenified at the top most likely will hanle the job. I know for a fact that the AER and the Ecotec will.

        Not so sure about common ECU’s over a more broad range, thanks for some homework. I would think that the parameters for a V6 or alternative fuel engine would take a different sheet of paper for engine management.

        I learned last night that while the talk on the outside for a 4 cylinder turbo is abundant, the talk on the inside was very close to selecting a V6 at one point. If that has changed recently, “we shall see”.

      • Mad Props to you Andy… good tech research/ point of view. Cheers :!:

      • Hey, now you’re talking my language. That is on the nose what I’ve been saying for like a year and a half now: almost every car manufacturer in the world makes a 2-liter turbo engine. Not that we need to do an “IRL in 1997″ pledge for stock-blocks, but that simple spec seems like a great place to start, if you’re trying to attract manufacturers. Some of those engines will doubtlessly do 400-500 HP with little or no bottom end work. Some others may require a new block, but it’s not rocket science (nor, admittedly, the work of a moment, but still…) to design a revised block which will do that same level of power.

        You and I may be talking about the same firm, but I used to work…let’s say…across the street from a place that was making big power from a stock-ish block Ecotec. A target of 500 reliable HP from that engine is not an outrageous number, from what I’ve heard.

        Variations on layout (I4 vs. V6) and fuel (diesel, petrol, etc.) can be handled with a common ECU, as long as you know up front that you need to cover those different parameters. Here’s where I disappear down the technical rabbit hole, but bear with me. You may require a different base calibration strategy for a diesel engine vs. a petrol engine, but as long as you lock down the base strategies as “read only” and just leave certain parameters as “editable” (spark timing, injector timing and pulsewidth, boost control, etc.), you can use the same hardware for both. If you had, let’s just say, five potential manufacturers on the hook, they could all chip in $4 million or less (aka, peanuts, to those guys) to Pi or Motec or Bosch or whoever, and the hardware and base software would be taken care of.

      • Andy Bernstein Says:

        Thanks AZZ, I’m ciphering on it. With a PC, no less.

        Somewhere there is a guy reading this on a laptop, in an engine shop.
        He’s probably laughing at the effort as he says “No problem”.

        Round tables get you lip service. Baretzky is selling an engine that doesn’t even exist: he’s promoting the spec, and says that some of the manufacturers are developing their own engines to fit it. Probably big buck programs (and engines), maybe aimed at the 2013 F1 regs.

        I say invite every prominent builder and manufacturer to a dyno room Oct.1.

        Let’s see how many guys with laptops and racing engines show up. WOT for two hours on ethanol. Show the specs, projected service life, cost and pruduction volume estimates, and start cutting deals.

        Maybe some teams choose AER, or an Ilmor submission, Hasselgren, whoever. A one-man band shows up with a great engine, and no mass production capability? Fine, a manufacturer or team can buy the engine design and build their own.

        575 HP in the current chassis will match power to weight ratio with the Honda. Then bolt it in your new chassis when you can afford one.

        I believe Mr. Penske raised that basic idea in St. Pete. Maybe one of his laptop guys already did the homework and he’s laughing, too.

        Or not.

      • Andy Bernstein Says:

        Geek, you’re ahead of me on the engine management side. I was thinking about a problem like V V T control for a 4 cyl, where the six might not have it and the Honda V8 doesn’t. But yeah, if you can do it all from the same box, cheaper and easier.

        Not so sure I would bring diesel into the picture yet, but it would be one alternative for the future in my book. Apex Brazil likes selling their sugar cane squeezings, and the fuel source is one variable I don’t see a good reason to add. Ethanol makes good, cool power.

        A couple of different four cylinder turbos running against the Honda V8 is good enough for performance variety, as well as the sound and shape of the race cars this plan would create. Add an evolutionary new chassis, and you have three different packages in competition for 2012.

      • Engines with different levels of features (VVT and the like) are easy. The engines that don’t have them, you leave that part of the strategy turned off (it’s sometimes literally as simple as checking a box, in my past experience). After all, the same Bosch ECU runs a Porsche flat-6, a Ford V8, a Lexus V8, a BMW V8 and a pushrod Chevy V8 in GrandAm, all (I’m assuming) with different levels of engine features.

        I’m cool with your last scenario, too. I’m not insisting on diesel or other types of fuel, just saying that if the League wanted to leave that option open, they certainly could without the result being $10 million engine leases. Um, if they do it right, anyway. As far as I’m concerned, an Audi turbo-4 versus a GM turbo-4 versus the Honda Indy V8 would be awesome. Give me that and I’d be in hog heaven again.

      • Andy Bernstein Says:

        Yepper Geek, Motec 48 is used in the V8 Supercars and perhaps a unit like that will work.

        Here’s another scenario, just for fun. Ford Duratec was on my first list, which is one of the existing platforms that has already undergone some racing development. Check this out:

        “Ford has unveiled the Fiesta rally car for the Monster World Rally Team.

        While details are limited, Ford stated the car is “based on the race-winning European Rallycross Fiesta prepared by Olsbergs Motorsports Evolution.” Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter Duratec engine which is capable of producing over 490 hp.”

        OK, we’d have to ask Mr. Olsburg to show up in the dyno room with a bit more, but a rally engine is not a hand grenade.

        Guess who drove that car in 2009?

        Kenny Brack. At the X Games.

        So how about the X Games rally fans finding out that the same engine will be debuting at the Indianapolis 500 in 2011? Would they watch?

  6. George, I also don’t have a laptop, I had always thought I was the only blogger without a laptop!

    I really think holding back until 2013 or later is a horrible idea. Indycar needs the refresh that new car would bring, plus that would be 10 years of the exact same car!

    But, I do worry about how the smaller teams will get enough equipment. It’s a little rich hearing Penske stick up for the small teams, though.

    • Oilpressure Says:

      Dylan:

      No laptop is a challenge, as you know. I have borrowed a laptop from a friend to take to Barber to try and blog from there. The trouble is…it’s a Mac and I know nothing about a Mac. I pulled it out last night and it may as well have instructions in Portuguese. It’s like something from another planet. I may end up blogging from my i-Phone which can be a pain, but at least I know it’s doable. – GP

      • OP: You have just officially freaked out the Marketing Types out there… you have an Apple i-Phone but use a PC :?:
        :shock: WHOA :!:

        :)

  7. As much as I am sick of the current car, new cars are in direct opposition to what is most important (in my opinion) to the series right now: keeping teams in business and getting and keeping car count up until the economy starts to really cook again.

    As the series starts to gain momentum under Bernard, while the economy turns around, hopefully real series promotion by an actual qualified promoter with a proven history can get the ratings up, some actual companies we recognize on the sides of the cars, some commercials other than Peak Antifreeze, etc. As team revenues go up while using cheap, used Dallaras, maybe they can afford to start replacing the “ride-buyers” (at least the ones we don’t like) with the Rahal’s and Rice’s and the momentum will snowball.

    Increasing team’s costs before then will only make them that much more dependant on the guys who bring checks. As inexpensive as the new cars are supposed to be, used Dallaras have to be much cheaper. Ask Tags.

  8. Wasn’t the D.W. supposed to have a run at the secret speed tunnel this month? That would be fun to watch if the D.W. group were really serious-wouldn’t they want an audience?

    A very optimistic starting line-up for May… Momentum should not be interfered with too much when the recovery is just beginning.
    If Roger decided to go with Swift or BAT or anything else-he could afford it -what would be stopping him?
    Nothing. That is why everyone listens when he speaks.

    Andy, WOW you could be paid for your contributions, also.
    …I’m sure, by personal experience, they read every one of your posts. Its alot of work for free speach-

    • Andy Bernstein Says:

      Mars, there’s only two points I can make with certainty to your post:

      I owe you thanks for your kind words.

      I thank you for taking the time to read them. Most do not have the patience, or the courtesy to acknowledge them. That hinders the effort tremendously: there is no input from experts to refute or correct the work. So I am left to assume it’s on target, or completely ignored.

      And I don’t like to assume.

      By the way, I just read Baretzky’s interview again. It is a sales pitch for an engine which has not been constructed, and there are several specific holes that can be bored into his block of promotion.

  9. Speech or speach, its alot of work.
    Correction is for the S.G. What happened to your blog S.G.?

  10. tim nothhelfer Says:

    No new engine program is going to be cheaper than the one current……unless maybe you can get some old Toyota or Olds er, Chevy….Cosworth (FORD) cheap somewhere. Then there is another development cycle to get everything to work together with little to no testing.
    If there is a new engine program for the interim before the new chassis there will be lots of development and testing needed for an obsolete chassis.
    I am afraid this is an all or nothing situation if the new car is to have any relevance at all to any manufacturer …….

    • Andy Bernstein Says:

      That’s opinion, and I do not believe it is correct. A full development program was undertaken by GM on the 2.4 Liter Ecotec engine in 2002. A discussion with a racing engine builder in Janury and subsequent research has so far led to every expectation that proven technology can be adapted for an IndyCar installation. If anyone has done the homework before, I can find no indication of it.

      Rather than re-exercise the free speech, go to the comments section of the link posted below. Most all of the available information is posted.

      Then maybe someone can explain to me why Mr. Penske uttered the secret word for the first time in an article pulished April 5.

      Chevrolet.

      http://planet-irl.com/2010/04/01/iconic-this/

      You can also go here for added context and photos, post #561 is a good place to start although the information was first discussed in the same thread commencing in January,

      http://www.ten-tenths.com/forum/showthread.php?t=119577&page=38

    • If the Delta Wing was the preferred design, where is the wind tunnel testing etc.? Engineering for the entire series for cohesion is probably what Izod wants. For them it is just about “cars and stars” not engineering. (“Pretty and Prettier”) sadly enough. Plus the economy has paralyzed the engineering aspect of the series. The team owners are now responsible for…EVERYTHING. Putting up the anti to play the game is new and for most racing professionals who are just bareley High School Graduates- Very Overwhelming.
      D.W. is so much like the flying toaster concept-

      Can’t help thinking about Dex’s cartoon. All or Nothing?

  11. After looking again, I’m sure S.G. has some other obligations that have to do with a gorgeous baby girl-(When she is 18 years old you will realize that Speed and childen do NOT mix well. Take care of your precious gift and remember that racing is for the race track, ONLY.)
    Also, Free Speech is a right that has been given to Americans, like Andy, and that right of free Speech has been bought with American blood-

    Would love to have seen a V.W. or Audi on the Indy track-Too bad Honda wants a monopoly!

    • You are correct, I’ve had some other requirements on my time as of late, and thank you for the kind words. :)

      Believe me, my kids are going to know the difference in going fast on a track or a closed course and going fast on an open road or street. You’re talking to a guy who has never been pulled over for speeding in the nearly 17 years since he got his license. The reason for that is not because I’ve got an uncanny knack for knowing when a cop is looming over the next brow, or because I have a car festooned with Valentine One radar dectors, it’s because I basically never go more than 5 MPH over the speed limit, under any conditions. I have nothing to prove on the street. Any knucklehead can push down a throttle pedal at a green light, and any #$$%^&* can weave in and out of traffic with little regard to nearby “civilians”. On the other hand, not everybody has what it takes to push a car to its limits on a track, or even in a parking lot during an autocross event. I’ve been a card-carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America since 1998, and in my opinion, for a guy like me (who has insufficient $ to go full-blooded circuit racing), autocrossing and karting tracks are the only responsible ways to compete.

      Mind you, being human, I’ve not always been an angel. I got away with one or two things on the street that maybe I shouldn’t have (those are some long, sordid stories), but there’s no confusing the street for the track here. And there won’t be for my kids, either.

  12. The transition from “karting” to “world-class open-wheel racing and engaging children under 21 is the real issue. History just repeats itself, unfortunately.

    • See, now I don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you talking about 15 year olds who are in racing (like, competing on an actual track) killing people? I’ve been following IndyCar, F1 and literally just about every single one of their feeder series for close to 20 years now, and I don’t remember more than maybe 2 or 3 competitors under 20 who died, or other drivers who were killed by “underage” racers. And the number may be even less than that. And trust me, I’ve got a long memory. And a giant box of On Track magazines I could go through to corroborate my opinion.

      Are you talking about kids who go street racing? Because I doubt that your average Honda/Subaru/Mitsubishi-driving 17 year old kid who races his buddies on the street could name more than one IndyCar driver (no bonus points for naming which one). And they ceertainly can’t name 15 year olds who are competing in F2000 (which I can barely do, and remember, I’m Racing Superfan #1). I doubt they’re getting the idea to street race from watching the Indy 500, or even St. Pete, because what takes place on TV or between the concrete barriers is so far removed from what they do on a Friday night. They probably get their ideas from Paul Walker and Vin Diesel movies, where they hear about life being lived “one quarter mile at a time”.

      You and I aren’t going to see eye to eye on this, but I don’t think that cracking down on kids who are in karting, or making the minimum age to compete in F2000 or Star Mazda either 18 or 21 or whatever age would make one iota of difference in the safety of the streets. Arguably, the kids who take part in that stuff are even more situationally aware and would have even better car control than their non-racing peers, should they be placed in a crisis situation. Am I advocating that every teenage kid be made to race a kart for 3 years? No, I’m just saying that pointing the finger at 13 year old kids in karts is sort of missing the source of the problem.

  13. Off topic and missed the point. Sorry George-
    The streets and Karting and Real Pro racing are all different.

    False confidence and the notion “permission to race but not to drive” causes problems when there are “celebrity” racers making racing history….Kids in the circle will get in trouble because they are not old enough to make good decisions on the road is all. Every pro-racer knows someone who was killed racing- on the track and off.

    Its what happens when the fox is guarding the hen-house and making up the rules and regs for kids, when they know little or nothing about kids. Race car drivers are not professionals (see Childrens Hospital of PA …CHOPS injury and prevention center.)

    Since George is off following the tornado, he will delete this tomorrow.

    • I don’t mean to belittle your situation, which is clearly a terrible set of circumstances that I would wish on nobody. I know exactly where you are coming from in your opinion. But, I don’t think that eliminating kids under 21 from racing (from what level do you mean, anyway? IndyCar? Indy Lights? All levels?) will make much difference. By extension, anybody who races and has kids themselves, and the friends of THOSE kids…couldn’t they be just as dangerous as the friends of 20 year old kids who race? I mean, let’s say that Dario Franchitti had a 16 year old son, who didn’t race himself but was involved in a street car accident, the cause of which was his (the son’s) going too fast. Do we need to crack down on drivers like Dario then? Or make a rule that nobody who is related to or is friends with anybody under 21 can race?

      The real root of the problem (and I do agree with you, there is a problem) is teenage drivers. ALL teenage drivers, that is, and the way our system deals with them. It’s ludicrous that a 16 or 17 year old kid can have an unlimited license, and have all of the same rights to the road as full-on adult drivers. 16 year old kids *as a rule* do not have very good judgment (behind the wheel or not), and don’t have the experience behind the wheel to be trusted in every road condition and situation. I knew this myself when I was 16, that I wasn’t fully equipped for every situation. There were plenty of my classmates who I’d never have ridden with under any circumstances, and racing had nothing to do with any of this.

      Some states, I think, are starting to go to a “probationary” system, where an adult must be in the car at all times when a 16 year old is driving, but I think that’s just a first step. Iowa, I believe, just banned kids from texting while driving. Another good step, but again, just another step. In Europe, the standards for getting and maintaining a road license are far higher than they are here. I don’t understand why there isn’t more of a push for a European-type licensing system here. That would cover all young drivers, whether they are friends of kids who race or not.

      • Any artificial age limits are STUPID & basically just appease the knee-jerk, low information citizen :!:

        Most states consider 18 YEARS = LEGAL ADULT. However that legal adult CAN NOT (1) Drink alcohol (2) Rent a car… but can join the military & DIE for Uncle Sam. The Army will train an 18 year old to drive a big $$$ Abrams TANK but Avis won’t trust the same 18 year old with a Chevy Colbalt :?: Seriously :?: :roll:

        The state trusts a parent or guardian to perform DRIVER TRAINING for their 16 year old son or daughter. I’m sure Derek Daly passed on driving knowledge to 16 year old son Conor… but he also trusted SKIP BARBER.

        Besides karting at an even earlier age… 16 year old Conor Daly was racing a Barber Dodge/ Mazda Pro car & a FF2000 in Canada :idea: I trust a 16 year old Conor on the road a helluva lot more than a trust 16 or 17 year old “Johnnie” who learned his driving from his grand dad or his mom.

        Any talk of requiring AGE LIMITS in motorsport is nonsense… to deny a 16 year old Conor his wins / championships in the Barber series & FF2000 car, his win as a 17 year old in the Star Mazda series (& 3rd place in the championship) & his success representing the USA @ the Formula Ford Festival as some kind of TEEN SAFETY campaign :?: :?: WTF would that serve… ZERO

      • From my experience it is young boys under 21 that are struck with celebrity and big dreams that they can’t handle. Earning “respect” on the road among friends cause prioblems etc. The celebrity race car driver himself is not driving the Honda Civic, but an automobile that can hold the road. ( Lamborghini, Ferarri, BMW….)
        Earning “respect” on the road etc. is very childish, but that is what kids do, unfortunately. There are the real pro’s like Scott Dixon and Dario, and Will Power, that are so fantastic.”Real Gentlemen”, as Ashley Judd always says- something for anyone to aspire to.

        Europe is the standad for Open Wheel racing and they are very strict in Formula-1 paddock, and the youngest Formula-1 driver was 19.5.

        Pro-racing is not an excluded class for child protection.
        On the road from Tennesse to Alabama the roadside memorials are staggaring..it is usualy speed and reckless driving.

        The Children’s Hospital in PA is leader in Injury Prevention-
        Where I get my info from- Azo

      • You can skew statistics any way you want… You are spewing OPINION & nothing close to FACT :idea:

        ONE Children’s Hospital doesn’t make a SCIENTIFIC STUDY or provide all-knowing cures.

      • Those F1 drivers you are babbling about just didn’t magically POP into F1… they were also in the motorsport ladder system at 15-16-17 &18 years old :idea: :idea: :roll:

        You really need to get some professional counseling & STOP subjecting this blog to your misguided “cures” to a problem that really doesn’t exist.

        As for the 16-17-18 year old USF2000 & Star Mazda drivers I mentioned… they sure as Hell are not driving $300,000 Lambos or Ferraris… as that $$$ would go to part of their yearly on-track budget !!! Conor Daly drives a Subaru WRX sti… some do drive Honda Civics & Mazdaspeed 3’s.. Hardly exotic sportscars :idea:

    • Oilpressure Says:

      ????

    • See, what I hear you saying is that bad behavior behind the wheel is largely confined to friends of race car drivers. That is patently untrue, because how many kids out there fit that description in the first place? A couple hundred? A thousand? Bad behavior behind the wheel is prevalent in nearly ALL teenage drivers. AZZO has a point in that it’s up to parents to fill in the gaps in kids’ driving knowledge. That’s where I’m going to do a lot of training with my own kids, and I’ll be happy to train their friends as well, if their parents aren’t up to it. However, I do know that many parents do not have the desire to give their kids in-depth driver training, and most don’t have the necessary knowledge anyway (I went to racing school, and I’ve done a lot of studying of vehicle dynamics; did many of the parents you know?).

      You’re drawing a direct line between young drivers on the track and fatalities on the street. I know that’s what happened in your case, but I don’t think 90% of American kids could even name more than 2-3 race car drivers. The number who think they are emulating race car drivers on the street has got to be miniscule, in the grand scheme.

      Trying to modify the behavior of the 500-1000 kids out there who are good friends with young race car drivers by banning racers under 18 misses the point, and will have limited effect. The point is to modify the behavior of ALL of the millions of teenage drivers out there.

      • Well Doug Herbert NHR racer has B.R.A.K.E.S after his 2 boys were killed 17 and 12 (RIP James and Jon)… Doug started the aggresive driving prpogram, which in my oppinion would be great for the racers child and friends..along with in your face accident exposure-

        According to the DoT “aggresive driving training” is a very poor driving education tool….The problem is false confidence and the notion that Azzo described …95 mph in Honda Civic pushing to pass is going to hit the wall…Doesn’t matter how much Karting experince a kid has-

      • That’s not what I’m saying at all. I mentioned earlier that I’m not suggesting that every kid should do 3 years of karting, and I’m not suggesting that every kid go to Skip Barber. My going to racing school and my other experience is a reference to the facts that 1) it helps to know where the limits of a car are, so that on the street you can drive well under those limits so that there’s a buffer zone in case you’re presented with something you didn’t expect and 2) if you ever are presented with something unexpected, it’s a good thing to know how you should react and how the car will react. At racing school, we spent a couple of hours doing figure-8s and other maneuvers on a skid pad at 30 MPH, while the instructor made the front and rear tires lose traction. Why do this at a racing school, where you’d think that the #1 goal is to learn how to go fast? Because you need to know how to correct those situations, should they ever happen. This is the sort of thing that 99% of teens don’t get access to, but every single one of them would be better off getting. This is the exact stuff that the BRAKES program teaches. You say that that program would be excellent for racers’ kids and friends. I’m saying that it would be good for EVERY kid.

        Your illustration about the Herberts, while extremely unfortunate, tells me that it was a situation that could have been avoided by either increased situational awareness by the driver (Jon) or a reinforcement that aggressive driving should not be done on the street, under any circumstances. These things are the reasons that I’m presenting for extra driver training, not teaching kids how to go around a corner in downtown with two wheels on the curb and all four tires screeching. Also, a case could be made about drivers under 18 having restrictions put on their licenses that requires an adult in the car whenever they drive, but I already made that argument in an earlier comment. No, it doesn’t matter how much karting experience a kid has, but if a kid is taught to drive well under the limits of a car when they’re driving on the street, and is made to have a pair of watchful eyes in the car with them for a year or two, wouldn’t a kid be less likely to explore the limits of their car on the street, around innocent bystanders?

        I’ve been trying to be patient here, because it’s a vaild debate (though off-topic to the original post…sorry, George), and you did invoke my daughter (which I obviously feel strongly about), but I’ve asked you a lot of questions to clarify what it is you’re suggesting. You’ve given me a bunch of statistics and statements, most of which appear to be completely apropos of nothing. Meanwhile, you’ve given me basically no answers to any of my questions. What are you suggesting? No drivers under 18 in any race car, anywhere? A worldwide banning of kids under 18 from race track grandstands (because you’ve made a lot of statements about how IndyCar is “targeting young kids” while implying that they’re being immoral)? And what gains are you trying to make? Imploring the 500 total kids out there who are buddies with James Hinchcliffe, Jordan Taylor, Clint Field, Stefan Wilson, or whoever else to drive slower, while ignoring the fact that a LOT of teenagers who don’t know any racers drive like jerks the street?

  14. And then there are those who think that they just make up the rules for their circumstances. Considering the facts From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Auto racing can be a dangerous sport. Many individuals, including drivers, crew members, officials and spectators, have been killed in crashes related to the sport, in races, in qualifying, in practice or in private testing sessions. Deaths among racers and spectators were numerous in the early years of racing. Spectacular accidents have often spurred increased safety measures and even rules changes. The worst motorsports accident was Pierre Levegh’s 1955 crash at Le Mans that killed him and about 80 spectators.

    The five tracks with the most fatalities among competitors are:

    1.Indianapolis Motor Speedway 56
    2.Nürburgring 48
    3.Monza 30
    4.Daytona International Speedway 24
    5.Le Mans 24

    I don’t think that kids should be the market point for SPEEd-

    • I don’t understand what this has to do with 18 year olds in race cars. Can you give me a number for the level of fatalities of race car drivers under 20, who died in competition? Because I’m pretty sure that every single one of the fatalities in your numbers there were older than that (crowd deaths at Le Mans in 1955 notwithstanding).

    • Wow 56 deaths in almost a 100 YEARS… statistically thats actually considered LOW :idea: MOST of those deaths happening in a period where drivers wore NO HELMETS & many of the cars had NO SEATBEALTS :idea: : idea:

      Race tracks are places RESPONSIBLE gear-heads go to showcase their skills. Much safer than to have 15-16-17 year olds on a RACETRACK than doing it ILLEGALLY on the streets & highways.

  15. Actually you are almost at the answer when you remember that history was made in Indy car with the youngesr drivers etc….Not neccesarily the famous racecar drivrers…its the friends and other kids around the drivers who want to immitate them…as children do. When did 18 year olds actually start racing?

  16. Azzo you are also very rude to others, so I am guessing that you are not the “autosport” gentleman but rather like the ludicrous enterauge “taking care of bidness.”
    American Autosports is not a separate class that is excluded from child protection-

    • Get it straight … I’m “RUDE” to you :idea: :idea:

      I tend to be “RUDE” to babbling idiots that post mindless post after MIND-NUMBINGLY mindless post of the horrors of 15-16-17 year olds racing cars… I’m sure we have all missed the ramblings about parents who allow their 5-6-7-8 year olds to run cadet karts too. Imagine those kids on their bicycles in the neighborhoods :shock: OMG… the horror.

  17. Azzo the bully rides again.

  18. Big Macho guy Azzo…throwing stones.
    Get a job and a life-too much time on your hands for adult autosports.
    Helio rules, so save your energy…

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