The next generation Champ Cars - Part 2

 by Mark Cipolloni
December 29, 2003

Go to our forums to discuss this article

New V10 Zytek car - What series is it for?
Photo courtesy of Zytek

A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Can you tell all of us readers what are the differences between the Zytek chassis that's being talked about today (see proof-of-concept rumor) and the superfund chassis you talked about a couple weeks ago? And which do you think would be better? Kelly O'Connor, Altoona, Iowa

Dear Kelly, Unfortunately at this time Zytek has not released any more information about this new car and engine (see photo to right) they are testing than what is in the press release included in the rumor.  I am attempting to get more details.   I heard through the grapevine that it puts out over 600 HP and is a V10. The tires and wheels are definitely F1 size, which is perfect in our book. 

Zytek New Car Press Release: The new Zytek car powered by the latest Zytek phase four ZG engine was driven by experienced F3000 driver Enrico Toccacelo.  Zytek continued the development of their new chassis with another highly successful test at the Italian circuit of Misano last Thursday and Friday December, 18 & 19, 2003.  Initially, on day one Enrico familiarized himself with the all new Zytek electric paddle shift system, but soon completed a best time of 1 minute 18.6 on old tires. Further developments were carried out overnight on the car and the following day Enrico covered the track in a stunning 1 minute 17.4. Over the two days the Italian driver completed 50 laps saying the car was "mega". He was delighted with the initial feeling of the car saying the engine and the paddle shift gear-change were very impressive, and went on to add that there is a lot more time to come from the car. To compare times Enrico then stepped into a Euro 3000 car and did a 1 minute 21.2 - some 3.8 seconds slower than the Zytek package. Zytek will continue its test program in January 2004.

Dallara V6 Nissan Superfund Car
Photo by Guenter Reinhold/AR1

The Dallara Nissan car (pictured right) is powered by a V6, but otherwise the same size as a F1 car, including tires.  So both the Zytek car and the Nissan Superfund car appear to be about the same size but the Zytek has an engine that puts out much more HP than the Dallara Nissan car.  The next Generation Nissan Superfund Car is rumored to produce over 600 HP as well.  Note both this car and the Zytek above have F1 size wheels and tires.  The car to the right has grooved tires because the track is wet and it is running rain tires.

In the article that I wrote titled CART Champ Cars, The Next Generation - Part 1,  I proposed a F1 size car with about 750 HP.  However, our proposal was for a car that was still almost 500 pounds heavier than an F1 car.  If the car is lighter than that, the engine can make less HP and the lap times will be comparable.

We had proposed a 3.0 L V-10 engine.  The advantage of a 4.0 L V-10 is that it can make the same HP at a lot lower RPM, hence more miles between rebuilds and a cost savings. Our concern would be that if the revs are too low it would not scream like a F1 engine and CART would lose out big time on the wow-factor. However, they could start with a 4.0 L V-10 and then de-stroke it to 3.5 L and eventually to 3.0 L over time, bumping up the RPM each time. I expect CART will have a RPM cap on their new engine so they can control runaway HP with displacement reduction much like the IRL has done.

A consolidation around Formula 2 coming?
It will be interesting to see where CART positions itself in the world market.  The Dallara Nissan car, the Zytek car, and the new F2 car are all migrating to a F1 size car.  Horsepower and how much exotic technology is allowed will be the distinguishing factor.  F3000 is going away in 2005, to be replaced with F2.  The target for the new F2 car I am told is about 650 HP.  

For obvious reasons it would be good if the Dallara Nissan Superfund World Series, Formula 2, Formula Nippon (currently F3000 chassis with 3.0 L 540 HP Mugen Honda V8), Euro 3000, and perhaps the next generation Champ Car all ran to the same exact specifications - the new F2 specs.  This would clean up all the variations out there and create one worldwide spec just below F1. All of these series are struggling to survive. Think about the economies of scale and the interchangeability of all these series if they all ran to the same specs. 

Let's face it, CART Champ Cars are never going to be F1 cars, so F2 is the next step down. Whereas the other series can use the same 'spec' engine in all the cars that compete in their respective series (Superfund/Dallara/Nissan, F2/Lola/Renault, Nippon/Lola/Mugen Honda), Champ Cars could differentiate themselves by having the same chassis and transmission as all the other series, but opening up the engines to manufacturer competition, but otherwise to the same exact engine rules.

That of course will bump costs up but most of that would be borne by the manufacturers.  The competition would also bump up horsepower. The other option is a spec engine like the other series, but badged by various manufacturers.  Champ Cars could also be more international in nature, competing around the world, whereas the 'other' F2 series would pretty much stick to one continent as they do today.

As I have stated before, if the next generation Champ Car is slower than the new F2 cars, CART runs the risk of taking a step down on the world ladder, meaning they will have a hard time selling their series to an international race promoter.  CART is going to want to sneak in just above F2 and below F1, but the gap between the two is becoming narrower. 

If F2 is slated to have 650 HP, and F1 has 900+ HP, then the Champ Cars would need about 750 HP to slot right in between perfectly (assuming they are using the same F2 chassis which will be much lighter than today's bloated Champ Car).  If CART keeps the same overweight car and 750 HP engine, the new F2 car will blow a Champ Car into the weeds and any mystique a Champ Car once had on the world marketplace will be lost forever.

Chris Pook stated CART was being positioned as a feeder series to F1.  I suspect Bernie Ecclestone may have clued him in as to what worldwide plans he had for F2 and how to solidify and strengthen open wheel road racing around the globe.  Time will tell whether Champ Cars can maintain their #2 position in the world, or will drop to #3.

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article


Other Editorials

Champ Car's Minardi 2-seater is the ultimate ride

For Alex Figge and PCM it's baptism by fire

A tribute to Alfred J. Cipolloni

Champ Car owners move to silence critics

Establishing a firm foundation for Champ Car

One-on-one with Champ Car President Steve Johnson

J.R. Hildebrand is one American going places in a hurry

What's new for Champ Car for 2007 - Part 1

Champ Car positions itself for international expansion

Paul Stoddart confirms interest in Champ Car

An inside look at Champ Car TV production

Ho-Pin Tung wants to be Champ Car's first Chinese driver

Stephen King explains Justin Wilson's novel Investor's Club

One-on-one with American sensation AJ Allmendinger

Champ Car moving forward without the IRL

One-on-one with Paul Tracy

Bruce Delahorne explains CDW's sponsorship in Champ Car

One-on-one with Justin Wilson

Champ Car bosses won't be bullied

Part 2: NASCAR/ISC get dirty in Phoenix, out to destroy Open Wheel

Part 1: NASCAR/ISC get dirty in Phoenix, out to destroy Open Wheel

The Rahals: Like father, like son

Why and IRL/Champ Car merger will be a big boost for the sport

Headless Open Wheel Racing appears doomed

Richard Lyons looking at Champ Car for his next challenge

We salute the champions of 2005

Is Jay Howard the next Ayrton Senna?

Interview with Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson

Otaru, Japan Champ Car race moving closer to reality

Champ Car's global appeal may ride on mimicking the Team Australia concept

Champ Car's Surfers Paradise race promoter "gets it"

Champ Car cements another brick in its foundation

Custom built Champ Cars and Indy Cars

Interview with RuSPORT Team President Jeremy Dale

Conspiracy Theory: What Indy was really all about

Why the Champ Car/IRL war must end

How a Champ Car and IRL merger might work

Will the battle for Long Beach destroy its Grand Prix?

Katherine Legge has her eyes set on Champ Car

Traveling Light Media - Just what the doctor ordered

Champ Car lays out bold 3-year plan

Champ Car's 2005 driver lineup vastly improved

Hunter-Reay anxious to get racing again with new team

That sucking sound you hear is NASCAR

Feud - The story of the murder of Mickey Thompson

Yes, Blame Tony and the CART defectors too

Interview with ALMS President Scott Atherton

2005 a foundation laying year for Champ Car

Kalkhoven talks Champ Car with AutoRacing1

Kalkhoven and Forsythe buy Cosworth from Ford

Carl Russo is bullish on Champ Car

Can this be Champ Car's next-generation car

Champ Car poised for major comeback

Champ Car Race Control - the 'Hot Seat Zone'

Open Wheel Racing is in serious need of consolidation

Champ Car South of the Border, An interview with Joe Heitzler

There is an easy way for Champ Car and the IRL to unify

From airport to race track, a race within a race

The 2-seater Car is one of Champ Car's biggest assets

Why Bernie Ecclestone could, and should, buy Champ Car now

Champ Car rocks the streets of Times Square in Manhattan

Why did Fernández leave Champ Car?  Follow the money....

Next Generation Champ Car: A call for F1 tires

Coming to America?  Interview with Ralph Firman Jr.

Open Wheel Racing defeats IRL - Champ Car Series to continue

Open Wheel Racing needs a win by OWRS - Part 2

The next generation Champ Cars - Part 2

Is CART next for Villeneuve?

New deal for CART may be better than first thought

The genius of one Bernard Ecclestone

CART Champ Cars, the next generation - Part 1

Details emerging on CART race in Seoul, South Korea

CART hits a Grand Slam in Mexico City.  Now What?

Top-10 Challenges facing new CART owners

CART can still race in Europe, but will they?

For CART, time is of the essence

Making sense of CART's situation

Push-to-Pass means no more parades for CART

An interview with CART's David Clare

What did Roger Penske really mean?

CART must differentiate itself - clearly

Why turbos make for superior street and race engines

For CART, it's now or never

Chicken or the Egg?

War of the worlds

What Bernie brings to CART

CART, Driven to where?

Is it really about CART vs. IRL?

If I were Bernie

The Champ Cars and St. Pete

An informal survey of the St. Pete race attendees

Artificial Dissemination

CART, F1 coming to grips with doing business in China

Cancel the Funeral

Why CART and F1 must, and will, share a common V-10 engine

Book Review: Autocourse 2002-2003 F1 yearbook

Does CART need Michael Andretti?

2002 CART TV ratings by the numbers

Now is the time for CART to redefine its ladder system

CART gets a taste of tifosi passion in Mexico

Love affair in Mexico

Making sense out of Bernie/CART rumors

Changing of the guard?

Mom, apple pie, CART and....Formula1?

Why CART and Bernie make perfect dance partners

Miami should be a CART and ALMS kickoff party

David slays Goliath in Miami

What to make of Gurney's F1 team

Taking it to the streets, why Miami is a war zone

CART, like the Phoenix, about to rise up from the ashes

There's more than handwriting on the wall.....and here's the concrete facts

Labor Day weekend 1952...A weekend I'll never forget

Team owners show support for CART

CART still may be in cards for Villeneuve

Bryan Herta, USA's next best chance for F1

Is Paul Ricard in CART's future?

CART's real attendance numbers

Is Brands Hatch suitable for Champ Cars?

An Unappealing Appeal, George reigns in GEORGE-town

A candid conversation with Chris Pook

More than meets the eye with CART's turbo move

It's time for CART to define its own future

Key upgrades at Road America

Back-Breaking work

The rebirth of CART

The hidden costs of Indy Car racing

CART's road and street circuits are clicking with the fans

Is it sport, or a P.T. Barnum show?

IRL at Fontana - a victim of friendly fire

CART's 2003 race venues #1 in the world

Meet the Gonzalez brothers

ISC is making enemies in Miami

e-mail us:

Back to the top

AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA,  FedEx, Winston, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.
User agreement & disclaimer

Copyright 1999 - 2003, AutoRacing1, Inc., Hamilton, NJ