Thursday, February 18, 2010

So what really is the story behind Project Delta Wing?

I find it very interesting that I’ve now been approached by three of the four entities regarding the Delta Wing Indy Car project, although I suppose I should clarify that only Swift and Lola (twice!) have actually sent Press Releases to the No Fenders mailbox, while a third party simply seemed intent upon soliciting some positive “Spin” (my assumption) regarding the Delta Wing project with an offer of video footage of the Chicago Auto show unveiling.

And I find that I’m not able to sit back ‘N let things sink in before speaking, or in this case typing away somewhat furiously, (or is that laboriously?) as I’ve already given my initial thoughts upon the Delta Wang thingy, as in IT SUCKS!

Indy Car’s newest racer unveiled

Thus I decided to tune into the Kevin ‘N Cavin Trackside Show last Thursday night to see what the Pied Pipers of IndyCar Racing had to say. (Although apparently Kevin was forsaking Indiana’s snow in favour of the tropical Bahamas’…) As I must admit I was quite impressed with Curt Cavin’s abilities to remain overly neutral towards this most fervent subject, as a wry smirk came over my face when he told his first guest Ben Bowlby that there were some names towards the project he’d refrain from mentioning… As Meesh’s Ode to the Penis Car immediately sprang to mind!

Now I’m not an Aficionado on the history of Indy Cars, as I’ve only been following them since 1985-ish, so I don’t know all of the history behind them, Err Mr. Donald Davidson is on line one… Although a reoccurring theme seems to be innovation, which many claim has been lost over the past decade, as I’m starting to grow overly tired of the EXCUSE towards NOT being able to allow more than one manufacturer’s design, which I’ll go out on a limb and say the majority, including myself are pining for… As I understand the economic reality behind this, but let’s be truthful and admit that a monopoly is always the best business practice possible!

Thus I don’t know if Streamliners raced at The Brickyard in the years prior to the Rear Engine revolution, but I do know that Formula 1, arguably the pinnacle of Motorsport ultimately OUTLAWED Streamliners, nee closed coupe bodywork after the all conquering Mercedes W196 of the mid 1950’s era. Other advances in technology have also been BANNED over the following decades, such as four wheel drive, active suspension, launch & traction control, four wheel steering, ABS, Fly By Wire/Digital controls and four rear driven wheels (along with six wheeler’s) to name a few items that would potentially advance the commercial innovations of Automobiles. Not to mention the recently scrapped KERS systems, as the “Greening” of Motorsports is another topic I’ll need to sit down and get off of my chest someday, eh?

So I’m sure that Ben Bowlby is quite the accomplished Engineer, having after all designed the Lola B2K which resurrected Lola’s floundering Champ Car prospects after being beaten into submission by the all conquering Reynard Chassis. Yet, Bowlby himself admitted what I consider the key fault in the Delta Wing’s design process, by stating that in every aspect of his radical design: Form follows Function and it was NOT a styling exercise which is quite obvious to my somewhat jaundiced eye.

Cavin’s other guests were Keith Wiggins, Head Honcho of HVM Racing, the newly hired IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard and Dental Plan Dan “Spike” Wheldon, to which I enjoyed Wiggins comments toward knowing absolutely that Bowlby’s designs work and are quite track worthy. Although Wiggins did confess that the Indy Racing League has to keep in mind it, like almost every stateside racing series is in the Entertainment Business.

Which makes it even harder to swallow for myself, (GROAN!) the fact that the 800lb Gorilla, nee NASCAR (which I DESPISE!) has acknowledged that it is an Entertainment based series and thus is IMPORTANT to give the Fans what they want, as in the return of bump drafting, larger restrictor plates and the return of the rear spoiler, instead of the somewhat futuristic rear wing as they attempt to turn around the SS RASSCAR from the current TV ratings iceberg in order to keep their lofty position in North America…

And Randy Bernard claims he’d like to use Focus Groups to help direct the future of the Indy Car Series, which if Cavin’s claims of negative responses towards the Delta Wing concept running at a rate of 100-1 are true, then Indy: We’ve got a Problem! While Danny Boy (Wheldon) simply put on his ‘Dancin Shues and gave Cavin the ‘Ol Driver-speak “Soft Schue” Positive Spin toe dance…

As I cannot fathom The Cheepster, a.k.a. Chip Ganassi simply setting Bowlby loose to conjure up the future of Indy Car’s just to see what he can come up with? As chip doesn’t exactly have a reputation of throwing out blank checques… Unless it’s his subtle way of trying (Wink-Wink, Nudge-Nudge!) to put his own indelible stamp upon the future direction of Open Wheel Racing, to which I give credit to Cavin for asking Wiggins the obvious… What happens if the Delta wing project is voted down by the IRL as it seemingly has a twinge of CART’s previous Owners vs. Sanctioning Body feel, to which Keith could only retort the obvious; that another Split is definitely not a valid option.

Thus I cannot tell if this is some sort of mythical bargaining “Chip,” nor is there some more twisted evil plot behind it? Or even worse yet, That Roger ‘N Chip are pissing themselves silly at us right now... While I do have to admit that Tony G’s Mergification was long overdue.

On another tangent that I don’t believe has been discussed yet? What in the HELL will these new cars sound like? As history notes that a large portion of this series luster is engine noise, harkening with such diversity as the scream of the Supercharged Millers, to the almighty Whoosh mobile, (the mighty Pratt & Whitney Turbine engine) the ubiquitous ‘OFFY’s, (Offenhauser) or the all time Fan pleasers, those thundering Novi’s. (Of which I’ve never heard any of the above) Yet, as a visually impaired Fan of Open Wheel Racing, sound, smell and colours have become the reality of my racing universe, as I fear the future of the starkly quiet George Jetson Astrocar era… While I applauded Indy Lights crankshaft reconfiguration to fix the hideous sounding Indy Pro Series tractormobiles!

Which brings me to another comment towards the Swift proposal which I was unaware of until Curt brought it up… And I have to say right off the bat it sounds way too GIMICKY! As he mentioned something about a novel lighting system to be mounted upon the sidepods to show us car position, braking, acceleration, etc. DON’T GO THERE Swift, Please!

Yet if you haven’t caught my subtlety yet, by far my biggest COMPLAINT towards the Buck Rogers Star Wars Pod-mobile looking contraption called the Delta Wing is it’s NOT an Open Wheel Racing Car! As I DON’T play video games, DON’T wanna see a bunch of Pod Racers SILENTLY skimming around levitated racing tracks or have to give into the whimsical demands of the sought for 18-35yr old Demographic… who I suspect DON’T know what they really want anyways? I mean C’mon, if I wanna see some really bad IndyCar Racing, all I’ve gotta do is throw on my Dolby DX Surround sound laserdisc copy of Driven! (OUCH!!!) And why is it the more I conjure up visions of the tricycle podlike Delta Wang thingy that the word Klingon comes to mind?

Interestingly, Formula 1 was going through a somewhat similar situation a few years ago whilst trying to solve the dilemma of spectator’s perceived notion that there wasn’t enough overtaking in Grand Prix racing, which one solution that the FIA Technical Working Group came up with was to invoke a split twin style rear wing minus traditional central mounting posts, in order to accomplish giving the racing cars closer following abilities. Yet I believe that the public’s response was so deafening(?) That have you noticed this design was never implemented! Although Formula One did give its Racecar’s an “Extreme Makeover” last year, to which some critics claim are ugly, yet I rather like these chassis simply for the fact that they’re devoid of the myriad of multiple “Add-ons,” i.e.; kick-ups, strakes, flip-ups, strakelets, barge boards, etc.

And they supposedly even have exposed exhaust pipes, thus is it the Swift proposal that has the exposed engine bay? And I’ll NOT even delve into the regressing to four cylinder turbocharging, as my all time favourite engine pitch is the long abandoned 2.65 liter turbocharged V-8! (Can you say CART?)

So why’ll I’m all in favour of introducing a new Indy Car chassis, lets not lose track of what got us where we are today, as in what are our core values? Do we wish to stay true to the nature, heritage and tradition of Open Wheel Racing? Or do we wish to push our beloved single seater series into the abyss? As I don’t know ‘bout Y’all, BUTT! It seems pretty clear that the Delta Wing simply denigrates all of the virtues of what an Open Wheel Racing Car should be!

Then again as George of Oil Pressure has noted as an unlikely offshoot of the Delta Wing’s unveiling, finally, at last… Both of us CART/Champ Car Crybabies ‘N Ovalheads (my words here) have finally found something to unite against… As in we DON’T want the Delta Wing! As I simply believe that I have NOT come across one single IRL/IndyCar Blogger who supports this ABOMINATION! As how can someone be so far off the market’s sweet spot, eh?

(Which kinda makes me feel somewhat sorry for Ben Bowlby… As I realize how hard it is to create something from scratch…)

So perhaps I won’t haveda bother watching IndyCar beginning in 2012?

One Positive about each Constructor

What was that Sir Mix Allot song about? Big Butts? Baby got Back? Oh Never Mind!

1 comment:

  1. OK, Tomaso... what do you REALLY think? But seriously, I applaud your honesty regarding this whole Delta vs. SOP design issue. My wife asked me 'How the f*@k is that thing gonna corner with such a narrow front end?' GAWD... I love that woman.

    So mebbe the DW is a first iteration, mebbe a much shorter rear fin and a wider front track the car would be more palatable? The CG simulation run at Road America (?) was very unsatisfying, but at least they're thinking.

    Let's see where this all goes... it should be very intersting. BTW, I understand why you hate NASCAR, but as I've been able to flip some tin-top haters over to the cages, I would suggest thinking about them from a purely scientific perspective, the physics involved with keeping dem behemoths on the track, going forward. That does it for me.

    Great blog... keep up the good work!

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