Milwaukee IndyFest Friday report

Seen at Milwaukee Friday – David Hobbs and James Hinchcliffe chatting
Tim Wohlford Photo

The announcement will come yet today that Belardi Auto Racing will purchase 2 of the new Indy Lights cars. According to series officials, the new cars cost $250,000 each, not counting engine lease costs. This compares to $160,000 for the old car 13 years ago, but unlike the old car, the new car won't require an instant purchase of $50,000 worth of doo-dads and twiddly bits. In other words, the spin goes, about the same as the old car — once you adjust it for inflation. Series officials claim that the new car is easier to work on than the new car, and are obviously sensitive to ongoing operating costs.

In previous years, an Indy Lights ride fell from $1 million per year (that's what you have to pay to drive one) to around $750,000. No doubt the hope is that enough young aspiring drivers will find $1 million to drive the new car to balance the difference in the costs. By the way, the average driver needs to spend about $1.2 million to get thru the previous rungs of the ladder, so this means that an aspiring driver needs around $2.2 million just to be considered for an Indy ride — providing they have $6 million or so for that Indy ride.
Previously AutoRacing1 reported that there were no signed purchases, and the purchase of two by Belardi — although promising — still leaves a very short field for the coming year. But damn, it IS the most beautiful car seen in Indy in years, isn't it?

Censored! Back in the old days journalists were asked to refrain from photographing wings and exposed engines in order to preserve speed secrets. However, with the advent of "kit car" racing — where everyone had the same motor and wings — such requests were non-existent. And today, IndyCar has a rule prohibiting the use of engine covers, thus exposing motors and wings to public view when the bodywork is off.

So it came as a surprise to me when Honda officials asked me — nicely, but emphatically — to refrain from taking photos of their motors when the cover is off. The fact that "naked" Honda motors are common — including one straight of the crate next to me as I had this discussion — made the request a little… strange. So what can Honda be hiding that the prying eyes of my Nikon might expose?

However, I will play nice in this sandbox. Should I take a picture of a naked Honda motor, I will PhotoShop the thing appropriately. You know, give it a boob job or something.

Today's weather in the land of cheese, cheese heads, bratwurst and bubblers is a beautiful cloudless 80 degrees. However, the forecast for tomorrow afternoon is a 50% chance of thunderstorms. This would endanger the second IndyCar practice session, a bit of qualification action, and a couple of rickshaw races. Seriously, I'm not making this up — rickshaw races.

Tim Wohlford, reporting from Milwaukee!

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