Thursday, September 20, 2012 16:11
Unbelievable in Fontana The 2012 IndyCar finale was to be an epic struggle between a snarling underdog and a snake bit champion in waiting. Championship leader Will Power was being pursued by a hungry Ryan Hunter-Reay for all the marbles. Both started deep in the field because each wanted fresh bullets in the engine bay. Neither showed any inclination to charge when the green flew. All Power had to do was keep RHR in his sights and the championship would finally be his…after crashing out of contention for two consecutive years.
All was well until Lap 55 when Power got caught out by one of the notorious Fontana seams filled with gooey black asphalt filler with the traction coefficient of goose rope. The ensuing spin sent Power backwards into the wall, nearly collecting Hunter-Reay in the process. Now, all the Andretti Autosport driver had to do was finish in sixth place to take the crown as the crestfallen Power climbed out of his crumpled car. It was over…again.
Giving up was not something Power’s crew had in mind as their driver headed for the coach lot and a change into civvies. Every Penske Racing mechanic from both teams descended on the Number 12 and repaired the crash damage in a manner Navy vets would call “****holes and elbows.” Power was summoned back in uniform to continue the fight. The pit lane erupted in applause as the Verizon Dallara took to the track, wheels akimbo. Power completed 12 more laps and retired for good, but the effort bumped the ante to P5 for the Andretti bunch. More...
Wednesday, September 5, 2012 23:00
Jim France and Don Panoz shook hands today in what may revitalize sports car racing in the United States. The deal to merge the International Speedway Corporation’s GRAND-AM series with the American Le Mans series founded by Georgia tycoon Don Panoz sets a course that has road racing fans saying, “It’s about time!”
This is a reunion no less important than that of the IRL and Champ Car (CART) reunion after those series’ split and floundered, nearly killing open-wheel racing in the U.S.
Here’s how it went down:
Professional sports car racing in the United States has historically been the redheaded stepchild of all motorsports venues (sorry for the pun, Don). Sure, there were moments of brilliance with the Can Am, Formula 5000, Trans Am and IMSA of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Then, the lights flickered and some went out completely.
IMSA brought the world those breathtaking GTP prototypes from Porsche, Nissan, Jaguar and Toyota. On my maiden voyage to Daytona, the first sound I heard coming out of the tunnel years ago was that of Bob Tullius’ Group 44 V-12 Jag GTP echoing off the stands in a practice run. Up and down through the gearbox in the infield then the beautiful increase in pitch as the car rocketed down the back straight to the bus stop. It was simply symphonic to these ears. More...
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 01:40
Say what you want about Danica Patrick. Yeah she gets a lot of press. Some say more than her performance deserves, but she has single-handedly generated more column inches of copy than the other five Nationwide Series drivers combined. The reason? Behind the lip gloss and glamour, Danica Patrick is a real racecar driver.
That fact sticks in the craw of many of her competitors. Take her performances in the past two weeks at Watkins Glen and Montreal, as examples.
She was headed for a great finish at The Glen when an overbearing Canadian took her out. A week later the bright green “Go Daddy” Chevy shared the second row with its newest antagonist.
It was no fluke as Danica proceeded to lead several laps and was a legitimate contender to score her first win when a “not so cute” shoe was hurled onto the track. While TV announcers thought it might have damaged her car, post-race analysis proved otherwise. More...
Thursday, July 19, 2012 13:31
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to legally drive a Formula 1 car on the street, now you can. Well, almost. The Ariel Atom looks like a Formula Ford SCCA racecar with two side-by side seats. It’s so fast, it will scrunch up your face better than any fun house mirror. It will give anybody something known as “The Permagrin.”
Jay Leno has two of them (check out the photo gallery at Jay Leno's Garage). I watched him on a rerun of “My Classic Car” over the weekend. There he and Dennis Gage were, tooling around Los Angeles in one. He’d gas it every time there was a little open road up front and no coppers in sight. Gage said it messed up his trademark handlebar mustache.
The Atom originally began as a student project by Coventry University transport design student, Nik Smart. Seems Smart’s name fits. He is one clever dude. More...
Thursday, July 5, 2012 16:34
Environmentalists may scoff, but the motorsports industry is meeting critics more than halfway with a variety of “green” programs. The American Le Mans Series has the Michelin Green X Challenge and NASCAR is doing a number of things to clean up the air at the track (and it has nothing to do with Kurt Busch…sorry couldn’t resist a potshot).
The NASCAR switch to ethanol E85 has made a big difference. Though hardly scientific, the air inside Bristol Motor Speedway is trapped by the bowl shape and high grandstands that completely surround the infield. NASCAR veterans have always complained of the “Bristol headache” after the race because a whole race worth exhaust gas has nowhere to go. “My dad used to complain about going to Bristol,” says Doug Yates. “He didn’t like the smell and the smog and all the contaminants. That’s cleaned up a lot.” E85 and the fuel injection engine have reduced the need for Tylenol on the way back home from a Bristol event.
Not so long ago, Jack Roush used to take great pride jetting carburetors. He would hold the carb high by all four corners, like a priest holds up a challis at mass, and take it to the car when he was finished with a jetting job. So a great ceremony is another “green” casualty.
Roush/Yates engine guru Doug Yates says there is another gain. That’s because the fuel injection system controls the fuel/air mixture much more precisely. It also eliminates the off-throttle flames coming out of the exhaust from unburned fuel. More...