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DATE News (chronologically)
04/23/08
irl
New IndyCar must have larger cockpit  Champ Car made the Panoz DP01 larger in size to accommodate tall drivers like Justin Wilson and Ryan Hunter-Reay.  The next generation IndyCar must make similar accommodations (Actually the next generation IndyCar should just be the Panoz DP01 with a revised nose and beefier sidepods).  A driver should not be penalized for their height.

Justin Wilson towers over everyone
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
For Justin Wilson, the transition to the IndyCar Series has been a cram course. We're not only talking about learning the craft of oval racing.

At 6-foot-3, Wilson is the tallest driver in the field. The cockpit of the No. 02 McDonald's Dallara is 19 inches wide and the distance from the pedals to the middle of the seat is 52 inches. Scrapes on his elbows - akin to rug burns - were the results of wear from left- and right-hand turns on the streets of St. Petersburg earlier this month.

Obviously, it isn't as comfortable as the sofa in his Colorado home.

"We had a few problems in the test with my seat flexing and we felt like the car was moving around, but it was me moving around in my seat," Wilson said. "It will take me a little bit of time just like when I was in the Lola. It's tight, so it takes a little bit of time to get the steering wheel far enough back so that it is not resting on my knees and far enough forward that I can actually move my elbows.

"There is a compromise in there and it takes a long time to fiddle and play about and change things, which can drive the crew mad but it's what I have to do. I was actually quite comfortable on the (Homestead) oval and felt happy about it. I expected a few bumps and bruises the next day from knocking my elbows in the tub."

Joining Wilson in the 6-foot and over lineup are Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal, Vision Racing's A.J. Foyt IV, Roth Racing's Marty Roth and Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay. An inch or two shorter are Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, Roth Racing's Jay Howard, Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia driver Will Power and Dreyer & Reinbold's Townsend Bell. At 5-2, Danica Patrick is the shortest of the regulars.

"It is difficult," Hunter-Reay said. "I'm 6-1 and in the lower formulas the cars were a little bigger in Skip Barber. But in 2002 in Atlantics, the cars were teeny. My shoulders were pressed up against the sides of the tub and there is not a lot of room there for me there. When I got in the tub there with Rahal last year, it makes seat-fittings and everything very complicated because I'm so big.

"Some of these jockey-type drivers you just drop them right in the seat and be done real quick. With me, it's a much different deal. My knees are up to the top of the inside of the tub. I'm all scrunched in there but I'm used to that. It's become a way of my driving style. I'm used to being all crammed in the car and getting on with it.

"With me, they have to cut away at the car just so I can have a full sweep of the wheel on road courses. They have to form-fit certain parts of the car to fit a driver of my size. We make it happen. We don't know any better. It works." IndyCar.com

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