The 2007 to 2011 Champ Car and Indy Car

UPDATE #5 This website provides some images of the proposed next generation Champ Car as proposed by Bruce Ashmore. 05/28/05 Another reader writes, Dear, I recently purchased a set of super low profile tires for my Toyota. I'm one of what you call the "tuner" guys. You are so right. The low profile (low sidewall) tires are fast around corners but they break loose without warning and in the wet they are horrendous. Now I understand why you have been preaching the high sidewall F1 tires for the next generation Champ Car. Hector Gomez, Orange, CA. 05/27/05 A reader writes, Dear, Champ Car has some great momentum now that they have bought the LBGP. That is awesome. How about persuading Champ Car to have standing starts next season, if not 2007, to further differentiate itself from the competition. Now that would be awesome. Josue Cano, California, Oxnard, CA. Dear Josue, Standing starts would be great at certain tracks where the S/F straight is wide enough, but you probably won't see them until 2007, if at all. Mark C. 05/26/05 When Bruce Ashmore was working for John Menards Menards Competition Technologies (MCT) division, he came up with this proposed IRL IndyCar. Ashmore is back in the Champ Car paddock now working for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Champ Car team and it looks like he is pushing this concept for Champ Car as well.

This new prototype open wheel chassis he penned has safety as a primary goal and looks just like what was described in the original Champ Car article. Ashmore was a key player in that Champ Car meeting and it appears he pushed this image, which gives us a clear picture what the next generation Champ Car could look like, and perhaps IndyCar if the two series merge as rumored.

The car is designed so driver sits more upright, which improves driver vision and provided better protection and support for drivers back and neck. New front wing aero assembly – rounded corners minimize potential for cut tires, much stronger -by design this front wing is far less affected by disturbed air in traffic.

The full width front wing, along with the barge boards behind, make the front tires fully protected – still clearly an open wheel car but with safety of a closed wheel design. Other features include;

Larger, full length, full width sidepods – better overall protection, better protection for rear tires and larger, smooth area for better signage

Larger underbody tunnels and overall smaller wings – when combined with new nose/front wings the entire platform is more stable in dirty air. Tunnels pay particular attention to laminar flow – no vortices or sharp edges – which create more overall downforce and make less susceptible to pitch and attitude changes as well as dirty air. Where a current chassis loses a large portion of its downforce in draft, this chassis should be far more stable. A simplified body design, with fewer total parts – intended to improve fit, build times and reduce maintenance

At the time Ashmore was with MCT there was confirmation that the "clean sheet" IndyCar engine, begun by TWR, had been completed by MCT ,and approved, and awaits only a manufacturer badge and commitment to see competition. With no airbox shown, it appears they may have had a turbo engine in mind.

With 160 employees consolidated at the former Arrows F1 facility in the UK, and enough technical expertise and equipment to build up to and including F1 chassis' and/or engines, MCT said they intend on becoming a "constructor" of racing chassis and engines, which means Cosworth and Honda could have some competition in a consolidated series, as would Lola. (see related article)

05/19/05 A reader adds, Are they just oblivious to the obvious? 100lbs. less? Is that it? Plus, with talk of still controlling the power to coincide with the higher straight line speeds, are they just blind or something? In all fairness, I do agree with much of what has been said about the new chassis. I agree with the narrower track. That is too obvious and would be a much needed help for passing on the streets. Also, obtaining the downforce from the underwing/underbody, rather than the external wings, is very bright. Keeping the chassis a "spec" chassis is also very smart. It allows Champ Car to retain the distinction of being the true World Driver's/Team Championship, as every team/driver has the same equipment and the skill of the driver/team is what is emphasized, not who just has the better car, ala F1. The retention of the turbo engine is also very wise, as it allows Champ Car to regulate the horsepower for road/street courses vs. oval venues through the boost control.

What I cannot agree with is the slight reduction of weight. Only 100lbs. reduction is just ludicrous. We've been patiently waiting for the performance for years now. What that means is at least 200lbs. reduction with the current horsepower. A 1350lb. Champ Car with 800hp minimum and narrower track is perfect. It is respectable performance compared to F1, significantly better than the IRL, will be visibly faster, and will certainly set much faster track records at every venue it attends.

Furthermore, and almost just as important, the driver who drives this new Champ Car must be thoroughly satisfied with its performance. This is imperative for retaining our Champions. Every race car driver, especially those at the top echelon of racing want to drive the best, the fastest of the fast race cars. Right now, there is a huge difference between a Champ Car and an F1 car, and the repercussions from that are obvious. The current Champ Car is looked down on by the F1 group and the driver's who come from F1 and test a Champ Car all say, somewhat in distaste, there is a huge difference between the two. If the driver's feel the Champ Car is almost every bit as quick as an F1 car, they are not going to be as likely to want to leave for better things, the respect from the F1 community will return, and the prestige of driving and winning in Champ Car "The True Driver's/Team World Championship" will return.

The drivers must WANT to drive a Champ Car, not see it as a ho-hum option because they didn't get that F1 ride they wanted. That is a big difference in attitude. The fans have been very patiently supporting Champ Car through these past few years, waiting for the day where we can turn and look to our F1 buddies and say "Hey! Not so fast, take a look at what we have over here" once more. And, like the days from the past, our F1 buddies will have nothing to say but "Damn, you are right. That is impressive!"

I know, I for one, will not be able to wait until 2011 (when the next redesign is due) for that day anymore. It has been a huge struggle at this point. Honestly, if the don't get it right, and do not significantly drop the weight while maintaining and/or increasing the horsepower…..I think my days will just be finished as fan. It is just too painful to watch right now. The mystique and awe is gone. Furthermore, even the absolutely low class IRL cars are in the ballpark, which is a complete shame. GET IT RIGHT! Derek Hughes, Cincinnati, OH

Dear Derek, By giving us a peek at what the next generation car will be now we are encouraged that Champ Car is going to see what the reaction is from its constituents before finalizing the design, and hopefully make the necessary corrections. We would target 150 less weight, not 200, unless ovals are eliminated. Taking out 200 pounds would drive costs up too high because lighter weight materials would be required and the car may not be safe enough when hitting a wall at 200 MPH. And the wheel size must drop to 13 inches in diameter (as stated below) to get the higher sidewalls so the drivers can throw the car around more and it won't breakaway suddenly without warning like it does now. You don't see low profile tires on dirt track cars do you, where the driver has to have enough feel to pitch the car sideways and hold it there? Simply can't be done with a low profile tire, so lets hope these smart minds finally understand and make this change. Mark C.

05/18/05 This Champ Car article talks about what a team of engineers are coming up with for the next generation Champ Car for 2007 thru 2011. There are some flaws in what this group is proposing, but generally they are on the right track. It's interesting to see they think the downforce should come more from the underbody and less from the wings. That's funny. We proposed that very concept way back in 2000. It took them this long to figure it out. Related article.

They are making a huge mistake not changing the wheels and tires to that of F1 size. More of the spring rate of the cars need to come from the higher tire sidewalls, but they don't yet grasp this concept and the benefit it produces. In addition, the smaller brakes required for the smaller 13 inch F1 wheels can mean longer braking zones, everything else being equal, which would result in more passing. Again, these guys don't get it with regard to this concept.

Lowering the sidepods is bad news unless they are going to eliminate ovals from the schedule. Pushing the sidepods out to the width of the front track and beefing up the suspension will increase the ability of the driver to bump and get away with it, but the cars have to look good or the customers, especially the tuner crowd, will turn their nose up to them. The beefy suspension pieces can also act like lethal weapons in a major accident. This needs to be looked at. It also increases the unsprung weight.

Taking 100 pounds out of the cars is what we have been saying for years. It's about time. The spec car and engine is OK, and good idea on the twin turbo, but the spec engine must carry multiple manufacturer engine badges. Champ Car's ultimate success will hinge on major manufacturer involvement (the series needs the money) with multiple manufacturers competing with spec engines and car, just as it will be in NASCAR. In NASCAR they simply change the front headlight decal and presto, you have a Chevy, a Ford or a Dodge. In Champ Car you just change the cam cover nameplate. Same idea, just a slightly different twist.

What about onboard starters and standing starts, nowhere is that addressed. Mark C.

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