Indy 500 Champ Car track record to be broken in 2011?
Appearing at the annual Performance Racing Industries show, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard told SPEEDTV.com that he wants record-breaking qualifying speed at Indy in 2011 and he wants Arie Luyendyk’s 14-year-old record set in a turbocharged Champ Car using Methanol broken for the track’s Centennial Celebration this season.
“I want the record gone,” Bernard said. “I want to start being very vocal about that so we can start making some changes. It’s essential for us. Fans want to see it. I get goose bumps even thinking about it.
“We have to work with Honda. We have to work with Firestone. We have to take the proper steps on how we do it safely, but I think it’s doable in ‘11. I think for our 100th year, how better to celebrate speed? Some of the (Hulman-George) family has been very adamant about going for the speed record. It’s so right on. We have to go back to our roots.”
Luyendyk holds both the single- (237.498 mph) and four-lap average (236.986) qualifying records, set in 1996 in a Byrd-Treadway Racing Reynard/Ford Cosworth Champ Car.
Pole speeds in the high-220s since have kept with track officials’ desire for moderation, said Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths.
“I don’t think a number has ever been written as an official thing, but we’ve all had this number, that we’ve got to keep it under a 230-mph lap average,” he said.
Griffiths said after obtaining data from an unnamed IndyCar team that increasing power to reach the 240-mph plateau is “surprisingly achievable” with reasonable aerodynamic adjustments but would require a return to 3.5-liter engines and methanol instead of ethanol as a race fuel for the month of May. Griffiths said the main limiter for Honda is obtaining sufficient inventory parts left from 2003 to construct enough lease engines because “this is not something we want to spend a lot of money doing.”
“Is it possible? Yes,” Griffiths said. “Can we do is safely? Probably. Is it interesting? Yes, for sure. We’re all racers. We like to go fast. It’s got to come down to if it’s something we all really want to do and is it being done for the right reasons.”
“It may be a case where someone goes and has a crack and breaks the record, then (the series) prevents us from going that fast again,” he said.
Team Penske president and Indiana native Tim Cindric said he looks forward to again hearing the once-frequent “It’s a new track record.”