Why Panoz/Elan might win Champ Car contract

UPDATE Latest exchange rate is 1 British pound = 1.769 US dollars. With the recent slide in the US dollar, Lola is starting at possible distinct price disadvantage to the Panoz, everything else being equal. Panoz has also proven they can build a car for a lot less money for the IRL. Panoz has proven they can build a quality IRL Indy Car (we have not heard teams saying it is bad) so we can't see how they cannot win the bid over Lola.

There is potentially a significant cost savings for the teams over what they are used to paying and this is a good thing. That means they will have money left over from buying the car, and more importantly the parts, to use on other elements of the team. In addition, it will make it easier for a startup team like Eurointernational (Antonio Ferrari) to buy brand new equipment for 2007. It will also entice IRL teams to have a look because not only will it cost about the same as an IRL car, the operating costs will be much less because Champ Car does not run on many ovals, which have a tendency of destroying a car to the extent it's a complete write-off.

The only question now is whether Champ Car can drive Panoz to make a car look like a Champ Car. The current Lola looks like it does because that is what the engineers at Lola wanted it to be. We believe that Champ Car will have more say in how the car looks this time around and we suspect that since rumors suggest it will look a bit closer to a F1 car, that it may resemble the new Atlantic car to the right, but larger. Note the F1-like raised nose. In fact, it very much resembles a cross between a F1 car and a Champ Car, the difference being a Champ Car has longer sidepods and no airbox. Note the smaller wings that Champ Car said it would have (with greater underbody downforce).

If the Son of Champ Car (Atlantic) is indeed a glimpse of what the new Champ Car will resemble, Champ Car will have accomplished its goals:

  1. A Champ Car will look like a more modern Champ Car
  2. A Champ Car will still look like a Champ Car
  3. More downforce from the underbody, less from the wings
  4. A Champ Car will not look like any of its competitors, it will retain a sleek, low-slung appearance
  5. A Champ Car will be closer in size to an F1 car than ever before. This has many implications in the global market. It also has many implications on the tight street courses – the narrower, shorter car will maneuver better and weigh around 100 pounds less. Taking 100 pounds or more out of the car is significant, and although the narrower car would otherwise be slower through the corners, the lower weight will more than make up for it..
  6. The new Champ Car, with the same engine, will sound exactly like the old Champ Car, which is a good thing as it has been a signature sound for decades

09/23/05 Speculation in the Champ Car paddock is that the bid by Elan Motorsports (Panoz) for the new Champ Car was quite a bit lower than what Lola can deliver because of the exchange rate between the British pound and the US dollar. Elan makes their cars in a facility south of Indianapolis, which means they can also deliver cars and parts cheaper and faster.

If Elan wins the bid, we suspect Haas might become a Elan/Panoz distributor as the consensus is Carl Haas must be kept happy. He's currently the distributor for Lola.

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