IRL adds even bigger mufflers for awful engine noise

A more fan-friendly IndyCar Series car is projected to be on racetracks in 2009 thanks to an exhaust system that reduces the noise level by about 9 decibels.

The system, which costs about the same as the '08 exhaust and already has been ordered by some teams, has been tested on road courses and ovals "so we could get an idea of the projected improvements," according to Les Mactaggart, senior technical director for the IndyCar Series.

"Honda has been the prime mover in trying to get a more acceptable level of exhaust noise from the current car, and embarked on a fairly extensive R&D program in 2008," Mactaggart said. "It sounded favorable and a big improvement over what we currently have, and hopefully it will give us the opportunity to make the cars more fan-friendly at the areas where the spectators are in fairly close proximity to the track (such as St. Petersburg, Edmonton and Toronto)."

Further vetting will take place Dec. 9-10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in conjunction with a Firestone tire test. The system, which requires slight modifications to the top of the chassis for the exhaust outlets, was designed as a non-developmental area.

"It contains a much larger canister that absorbs the noise energy and converts it to heat," Mactaggart said. "To make an exhaust more efficient, you have to increase the size of the silencer and that was quite a challenge because you have to get it within the confines of the existing bodywork. We've used up all the available space to get this canister in.

"It's actually a mechanical silencer; it doesn't have wading or padding inside that a traditional silencer does. The main reason is its performance remains consistent throughout its life. If you start to lose the insulation material like in a traditional silencer, you get more noise and you also get more performance. So that would be potentially a development area. By having a mechanical, which is a series of welded rings, it's not tunable and therefore the performance remains fixed from exhaust to exhaust."

Last week, Firestone Indy Lights executive director Roger Bailey announced that a change to a 180 degree crankshaft in the 420-horsepower engines will reduce noise levels in 2009. That system also has been vetted on ovals and road courses.

[Editor's Note: Make no mistake about it, if the IRL had a proper race engine in the first place they would not need mufflers. It isn't the loudness that fans are opposed to (F1 is hugely popular and their engines are extremely loud), it's the pitch of the noise that emanates out the exhaust pipe. The original IRL engines were so obnoxious fans would head for the exits in droves.]

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