IndyCar trying to make 1.5-mile ovals work
In the aftermath of Dan Wheldon’s death at Las Vegas last month, INDYCAR officials knew there were at least two pressing questions that needed immediate answers.
“Do we keep running on the 1.5-mile ovals and, if so, how do we go racing on them?” said Will Phillips, IndyCar’s VP of Technology. “And what are we trying to do? Obviously, safety is paramount and as Engineers we have to remember we are ultimately participating in a show.
“We know the drivers trust their engineers more than anyone else so we’ve asked them to help us come up with some solutions.”
Phillips, a former engineer himself in Champ Car/IRL/ALMS, gathered engineers from various INDYCAR teams for a five-hour brainstorming session on Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“The general consensus was that we needed to make the drivers have to drive the cars and not be running flat out a half lap after they get on the track,” said Phillips.
“So how to we do that? We might have to have different regulations at different tracks and through various means make sure we contain a top speed that’s deemed acceptable. And to make sure the driver participates we have to grip limit the car. Do we accomplish that with aero or mechanical? Or a combination of both? Do we mandate setups in terms of springs to limit grip?
"The biggest affect comes from the tires so we need to talk to Firestone and see what they think, perhaps look at current developments in Formula One as an example.”
With the 2012 IZOD INDYCAR schedule in limbo while the series figures out which ovals may be viable, Texas Motor Speedway looms largest. It’s produced the best crowds and closest finishes during the past 14 years but it’s also been the craziest in terms of pack racing.
“I asked the group: ‘Do we think we can go and race at Texas,’” continued Phillips. “They said yes we can. So we’ve got to put a package together and take some cars from each manufacturer and go test.
“We need to see them run together, see what the turbulence behind the new cars is like and see if they run two abreast, three wide or get spread out.” More at speedtv.com
[Editor's Note: Good luck to them. If they make the cars require talent to drive, do they really think they will stop the big one? When they are all packed up in their 2-wide restart and start formation, someone will run out of talent (like Scott Sharp did at Indy when he started on pole and ran out of talent in Turn 1 on the opening lap) and lose control in the front or middle of the first green flag lap on cold tires and presto, we have another big one.]