Latest Champ Car News and Commentary

Can this be Champ Car's next-generation car?
 by Mark Cipolloni

  October 29, 2004

This car blows a Champ Car away

Champ Car is considering a new car/engine combination for 2006.  This car, shown right and below, built by Force 10 Ltd. in England, was designed for the Superfund Euro3000 series for ovals, street circuits, and road courses.  The car comfortably outperforms the current Champ Car in every imaginable measure - outright speed, cornering, braking, and crashworthiness.

It looks and sounds very much like a F1 car, and performs like one too. It is the perfect platform for Champ Car to sell to race promoters and race fans worldwide who long for F1 but can't afford it.  A derivative of this car, perhaps with slightly longer sidepods and an engine that would rev to 11,500 RPM or 12,000 RPM instead of 11,000 with a bit more HP, could form the basis for the next generation Champ Car. 

The car, running with the 11,000 RPM engine, was fast enough in recent testing at Silverstone to qualify for this year's British GP ahead of Minardi and Jordan.  Although it weighs 170 Lbs more than an F1 car (280 less than a Champ Car) it has a performance advantage over F1 by virtue of more torque from its larger 4.0-liter engine, a wider track, slick tires, and ground-effects downforce.  When F1 goes to a V8 engine and spec tires in 2006, an F1 car will be hard pressed to beat this car on lap times.  Imagine the ramifications in the global market where F1 currently charges $40 million per year for a race and Champ Car is somewhere around $5 million.

Especially appealing is the normally aspirated V10 engine that runs 3,000 miles between rebuilds, making the car far more economical to operate than the current Champ Car, which goes 1,200 miles between rebuilds. While a V10 is slightly more expensive than a V8 to rebuild, the fact that it has no turbo and goes 3,000 miles between rebuilds makes this engine far less expensive to operate on an annual basis. Admittedly, if the engines turn more RPM for Champ Car than Superfund, we are likely to see the rebuilds be every 2,000 miles instead of 3,000, still better than the current engine.  Cost containment is a key element of Champ Car's business plan, so perhaps the current V10 engine at 11,000 RPM is just fine as-is.  It certainly sounded fantastic.

Test driver Karl Wendlinger (L), an Ex-F1 driver, talks to Paul Cherry, Commercial Director for Force 10 Ltd, the company that designed and built the car

The engine runs on ethanol instead of methanol.  Both are considered alternate fuels to gasoline, but ethanol is much more suitable for consumer use than methanol, which is highly corrosive and requires race engines to be pickled after each session.

While some argue that Champ Car should retain its turbo formula because it is what defines a Champ Car, that no longer is an important factor.  Having heard this car run, it sounds like a F1 car, but because it does not turn 19,500 RPM, it doesn't have the ear-piercing shrill that a F1 engine does.  It can best be described as a cross between the current Champ Car and F1 engines, a wonderful sound that would help bring a "wow" factor back to the series.

Recognizing that Champ Car has a long standing relationship with Lola, perhaps the best thing for Champ Car would be to write specifications modeled after this platform and let Force 10 and Lola share the customers.  It is not good for Champ Car to have all their eggs in one basket, so dividing the sales between Lola and Force 10 would be a wise decision and a little competition is a good thing.  Price caps can be set for the car and spares.

Whether Judd would sell the engine to Champ Car is not for me to answer, but with Kevin Kalkhoven rumored to be buying Cosworth, the best scenario would be for the Cosworth shop in Torrance, California to rebuild and service all the engines.  They have proven they can deliver reliable engines with equal HP.

Who designed and built it?

UK based Force 10 Technology Ltd is responsible for the design and construction of the Formula Superfund chassis.

Martin Schneider, Head of SUPERFUND Motorsport Development with Karl Wendlinger, Development Driver, John Travis, Technical Director and Design, Force 10 Technology LTD and Paul Cherry, Commercial Director, Force 10 Technology LTD - Presentation of the new FORMULA SUPERFUND car for the 2005 FORMULA SUPERFUND Championship

John Travis, Technical Director
2004 Concept and design of Formula Superfund 2005 race car.

2002 to Date Independent Consultant for Champ Car Teams. Newman/Haas, Team Rahal, aerodynamic development for all Reynard Champ Car runners. Race Engineer for GD Racing in Nissan Superfund World Series, driver Enrique Bernoldi.

1996 - 2002 Penske Cars Limited
Chief designer
Responsible for the design and development of PC26 to PC28 Champ Cars and the development of the Dallara IRL cars. Concept and design of the Penske PC30 IRL car.

1990 – 1996 Lola Cars Limited
Designed car that still holds lap record for Indianapolis Motor Speedway [in 1992 with LOLA T92 and subsequently in 1995 with LOLA T95]

1994 – 1996 Chief designer responsible for the Indy car project, concept, design and aerodynamics

1993 – 1994 Senior designer on Indy car project. Race and development engineer with US customer Indy car teams.

1991 – 1993 Project leader and race engineer responsible for the design and aerodynamics of the Buick engine Indy speedway cars. Race engineer with US Buick works team.

1990 – 1991 Race and development engineer Nissan World Endurance project.

Race and development engineer for customer teams in the European Formula 3000 championship. In addition to work at Lola and Penske cars, ran the Spirit Motorsport Team in Formula 3000 and engineered for driver Roland Ratzenberger.

Race engineer for Madgewick Motorsport Formula 3 Team, driver Roland Ratzenberger.

Ran a team and engineered for Gary Ayles in the first year of the Vauxhall Lotus Championship.

The car looks good from all angles

The Formula Superfund car is a low-maintenance single-seater race car specially designed for maximum user performance with minimal running costs.

Number of spare parts kept to minimum by making use of best suppliers in the industry. Parts selected for their long life cycles to reduce the costs and overall weight of the car

Direct contact between teams and suppliers. Technical workshops held by suppliers for teams on use and maintenance of components

Carbon fiber monocoque, complies with 2005 FIA Formula One safety criteria
Total width is 2000mm (Current Champ Car 2007mm)
Wheelbase 3015mm (Current Champ Car 3147mm)
Overall length 4676mm (Current Champ Car 4953mm)
Specially designed for close racing, overtaking and easy handling
576kg (1270 Lbs) with oil and water, with 22kg of ballast to balance for different driver weights (Current Champ Car 1550 Lbs, F1 car 1100 Lbs)
Judd 4 liter V10 engine at 11,000 rpm, 700 HP (Current Champ Car Turbo V8 with 750 HP at 12,500 RPM)
Maximum torque of 375 lb-ft at 8500 rpm
Weight 125 kg
Rebuild every 5,000 km (3,000 miles vs. 1200 miles for current Champ Car)
Power/Weight Ratio:
0.55 HP/Lb (Current Champ Car 0.48 HP/Lb)

Steering wheel, complete with paddle shifters.  Note the push-to-pass button on the wheel.

X-TRAC semi-automatic gear box with six forward gears and reverse
Weight 50 kg
MEGALINE paddleshift
Wheels/ Tires:
Front 270/660 R13
Rear 350/660 R13
Supplied by PANKL Racing Systems
EIBACH Springs
Long life carbon brakes supplied by BREMBO (Current Champ Car: Steel brakes)

The airbox is tidy and sleek looking.  More importantly, vs. the turbo car of today, it gives the car more bodywork real estate for sponsor logos, enabling the teams to generate more revenue.

Cooling System:
Manufactured by PANKL Racing Systems
Drive Shafts:
Manufactured by PANKL Racing Systems
Exhaust System:
Manufactured by PANKL Racing Systems

The Formula Superfund car will provide pure racing for drivers with no electronic toys such as traction control or launch control.

There will be a Push-to-Pass to provide excess power (50 HP) for a limited amount of time during the race but this is a simple concept and racing success will be purely up to the skill and talent of each driver.

Formula Superfund Delivery Schedule:
Cars will be delivered on a first come-first serve basis.
First wave of delivery – ten cars mid/end February 2005
Second wave of delivery – ten cars mid March 2005

Possible 2006 Champ Car Delivery Schedule:
All cars delivered between June 2005 and December 2005.

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