Editorial

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

 by Mark Cipolloni
June 22, 2004

Go to our forums to discuss this article


Alex Tagliani with all of us that got a ride in Milwaukee that Saturday

Prior to the Champ Car race in Milwaukee, I had the opportunity to go for a 2-seat Champ Car ride with Alex Tagliani.  While I have driven race cars myself on a few occasions, I never had the opportunity to drive or be driven in a race car that was so 'bad ass' fast.  

When I was asked if I wanted to go for a 2-seat Champ Car ride in Milwaukee it didn't take more than 2 seconds for me two say yes.  That's like asking a kid in a candy store if he wants candy.  Be ready at 12:15 pm they said.  I was ready well before that.

After getting suited up it was off to the pits to get buckled in.  For a guy of my size, that wasn't the easiest thing to do.  On the first attempt I simply would not fit in the small passenger compartment.  On my second attempt I pulled my knees in front of the dashboard and they were able to shoehorn me in.

Sitting with my knees in front of the dashboard the entire ride wasn't going to be the most pleasant situation I ever found myself in, but there wasn't anyone who was going to talk me out of that car.

 


Talking about the ride

Since I was the last to go out, the engine and tires were already warmed up.  So when they signaled my pilot, Alex Tagliani, that the track was green he immediately engaged first, brought the rev's up and popped the clutch.  We burned rubber for about 50 feet down pit road and off we went.

The first thing you notice are the high g's we were going to pull through the corners.  We were still on the pit exit lane, and with tires already warmed, Alex was on it.  As we accelerated down the back straight I said, oh shit, my helmet is going to fly off.  I guess my head was sticking up too high into the airflow and the helmet was probably a bit too big for my head because my helmet felt like two goons were trying to pull it straight up off my head.  Warning - if you get a ride, make sure the helmet is snug and the chin strap is tight around your chin.

 


At Portland Bruno Junqueira spins the rear wheels as he takes his father, Jose Alberto Tavares Junqueira, for a ride on Father's Day

While I was prepared for the acceleration of a Champ Car, I didn't realize how many g's it could pull or how good the brakes were.  Because of the extra weight of the 2-seat Champ Car, Alex had to apply a pretty healthy dose of brake just before turn-in for turns 1 and 3.  While we didn't scrub off that much speed, you could really feel the braking power of these cars.  My head almost hit the dash board the first time Alex stabbed the brakes.  I was ready the next time.

Entering a corner Alex would stab the brakes, release, turn-in and let the car take a set in the beginning of the corner (1 & 3) and then gradually apply power starting about the mid-point between 1 & 2 (and 3 & 4) reaching 100% throttle just before exit of the corner.  Except for the stab of the brakes before turns 1 & 3, Alex was smooth and precise each lap, never once missing his marks, which is easier said than done at those speeds.

The cornering power of these cars is just awesome.  They are pulling so many g's through the corner that although not painful, the pressure begins to wear on you after several laps.  Having a helmet trying to yank your head off your neck the whole time doesn't help matters.

After a couple of laps I became acclimated with the punishment my body was undergoing and I began to imagine doing this with cars racing all around me.  That must be a real eye opener.

 


At Portland Ryan Hunter-Reay prepares to give his father Nick a ride on Father's Day

I am told we were hitting 180 MPH on the short straights so we were probably going faster than an IRL car can go around this flat 1-mile track.  I could not help but notice the track had no SAFER Barrier installed so I was glad I had someone with Tagliani's ability behind the wheel.

I was told before the ride that no one has pushed the panic button yet.  I decided I wasn't going to push it unless we were headed for the wall.  I figured if we were going to slam into the wall and experience a 100 g's or so, a push might be in order to signify I was saying "oh shit" while I was putting my head between my legs to kiss my posterior goodbye.  Whoever invented this silly oval race thing anyway?  The Europeans realized decades ago racing on ovals was ridiculously dangerous and costly and abandoned them.  Silly Americans.

 



At Portland all the drivers and their fathers who got 2-seat rides for Father's Day

I came away with a better appreciation of what it feels like to oval race at these speeds, because most of my prior experience was on road courses in an open wheel car, and in a slower Winston Cup car at Nazareth.  The danger and the almost constant g's definitely get your attention.

This 2-seat car is one of Champ Car's greatest assets.  They need another one or two more because the more people (media, fans and dignitaries) they can give rides to, the more people will become fans for life.  It may appear to be an expensive form of advertisement, but I suspect word-of-mouth promotion will occur from anyone who gets a ride.

The only thing better than this ride, was if I was driving myself.  Now if I can only talk a team owner into lending me a car for an hour on a road course........How about Road America guys?

Hey, I can dream can't I?

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article

 

Author

 
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



Copyright 1999-2012  AutoRacing1 is an independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by the IRL., NASCAR, FIA,  Sprint, or any other series sponsor. This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without permission.