The next generation Champ Car

A reader writes, I have two (2) questions concerning the Champ Car chassis I am hoping you can clarify for me:

1) Are the current Champ Car chassis the same physical chassis that have been raced for the past 2-4 years, or does Lola and Reynard build new chassis to the previous specifications? If they are indeed the same physical chassis, is there ever a safety concern over fractured tubs, worn parts, etc?

2) When will Champ Car be debuting their new chassis package? I know you have written articles on AutoRacing1 about adopting a chassis similar to the Superfund series. Any ideas which way Champ Car will go?

I must admit that I was quite soured by Champ Car during the off-season and their lack of (apparent) progress. I really appreciate your articles and news from Sebring. I do indeed hope Champ Car is on the right track (pardon the pun!) to once again become a true world class series. John Farney, Milwaukee, WI Dear John, Some teams have bought brand new Lolas while others are 2-4 years old. On the older cars some of the parts have been replaced to minimize fatigue failures, but sometimes they do still occur.

The new chassis will be introduced in 2007. As for how big it will be, I believe that will depend on whether Champ Car still wants to race on ovals (they say they do, but are they economically feasible given NASCAR pretty much has a monopoly on them?). Since 99% of their races will be road and street circuits we are of the opinion the next generation Champ Car should be reduced in size to that of an F1 car. With the tight circuits the Champ Cars race on, a slightly smaller car will help. There is a big debate as to whether the next engine should be a turbo or not, but any new engine won't be introduced before 2008. In some of the articles we wrote we suggested that Champ Car adopt an engine similar to the Superfund V10. That engine runs on Ethanol and it's interesting to see that the IRL has since adopted Ethanol for their engines.

We still like the scream of a normally aspirated V10 while others prefer the sound of the existing turbo V8. People think the turbo gives the engine a particular sound. Not true, it just muffles the sound so the noise isn't too high. The series may stick with a turbo since there is some tie-in with the tuner crowd Champ Car is trying to woo, and turbo engines are increasingly found on passenger cars. A lot will depend on what the engine manufacturers who join the series want. What I don't think you will see is a production-based engine being used. That gives visions of "stock car" and open wheel race fans are not interested in "stock cars." The image, the allure, of open wheel race cars has always been state-of-the-art vehicles with one sole purpose – to go fast. The IRL tried production based engines but eventually abandoned those hand grenades for proper race engines.

We do expect the next generation Champ Car to have onboard starters for a couple of reasons – if a car stalls on a standing start grid the driver can attempt to start the car and if a driver spins out and stalls the engine, they can attempt to restart it and avoid a tow vehicle being dispatched, which results in a caution flag. Mark C.

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