Saturday, June 16, 2012

RETRO: Lotus Victorious – During a Time when Real Diversity existed...

Author’s Note
Ah; So many stories, so little time... Thus, once again your humble No Fenders scribe is busy poondin’ his ‘nucel’s bloody whilst trying to free another story from the tenuous grip of that devilish NoFenderz Wormhole Vortex; CRIKEYS!

Thus this story was begun one year ago after having returned from the second Centennial Indy 500 of 2011 - yet seems perfectly suited to today’s landscape, having just spent time with Jean Alesi’s Engineer - along with watching the “SLOTUSES” being black-flagged for being too slow at Indy... Although I found it quite amusing that F1 Superstar Jimmy Clark’s 1964 Lotus T-34 was given the primo display spot at the IMS Hall of Fame museum - which usually has the Marmon Wasp in the museum’s entry way, albeit last year Roger Ward’s beautiful Watson Roadster  commandeered the spot...

Meanwhile, I’d haveda most definitely say I’ve cooled a bit upon Mr. CandyMann, especially after the Las Vegas debacle & TWIT-er Gate...

So, there appeared to be some good things evolving from the new INDYCAR leadership, i.e.; Mr. CandyMann, aka Randy Bernard, (Prior to OwnerGate, when Mr. Bernard’s tweet was heard round the world...) along with the return of a most popular ‘lil Bullring One-mile Oval Shortrack known affectionately as The Milwaukee Mile, which I believe I use to have a CART T-Shirt for denoting its Centennial way back when? Whale at least I know I had an ex-friend bring me back a Milwaukee Mile T-Shirt a zillion Moons ago; but I digress...

As I’m all for Milwaukee’s return to the Indy Car Series calendar (PERMANENTLY) – and wish it great success; (And that’s coming from a Dyed-in-the-Wool CART Twisty fan...) even if it only draws a “Minuscule” crowd, i.e.; 40,000 attendance equals a Sell-out? As I WON’T lament too much upon how Portland International Raceway once Outdrew that number – other then to say I still really think Indy Cars MISSING the Boat on this one!

Jimmy Clark’s 1964 T-34 on display at the IMS Hall of Fame museum during the 96th running of the Indy 500. (DOP)
Thus, interestingly, nearly a Half Century ago (almost 49-years – with the race’s return last Father’s Day weekend) the Milwaukee Fairgrounds witnessed history being made, in what Dan Gurney’s Eagle Eyes website denotes as: The Day the Front-engine Roadster Died...

When eventual Double World Champion Jimmy Clark thoroughly dominated the day’s race, (August 18, 1963) and gave Team Lotus its first USAC National Championship (IndyCar) victory, along with the first ever USAC rear-engine victory...

Now I’m all for the return of multiple engine Manufacturer’s in 2012 and I find it interesting that Honda (HPD) has opted to go against the norm - with its single turbocharger layout vs. Chevrolet (General Motors/Ilmor) and Lotus (Lotus/Judd) choosing the twin-turbocharger route; which obviously was chosen for developing the most Horsepower possible in the new 2.2-liter (maximum displacement) V-6 era.

Although obviously the SLOTUSES were sufficiently DOWN on horsepower at Indy; as I’ve heard some pretty disparaging remarks towards the ‘Luddi lump!

And since I don’t expect “Symona-Symona” (Simona de Silvestro) and the HVM Racing Glow in the Dark ‘SLOTUS to win this weekend’s Milwaukee event... Let’s harken back nearly 50-years ago, to those halcyon days ‘O Indy Cars - when the REAL Lotuses were ultra competitive and GASP! Even took the Pole at Mother Speedway!

Thus, or ease of reference material, I’ll focus upon the year 1964, the very year that thee Flying Scot secured Pole at Indianapolis for Colin Chapman and Lotus at the  48th running of the Indianapolis 500...

Side view of thee Flying Scot’s ’64 I500 nount. (DOP)
1964 INDY 500 NOTES
Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac’s Motor Racing Developments rear engine BT-12-Offenhauser was entered by John Zink and driven by Sir ‘Blackjack. (Jack Brabham)

Mickey Thompson’s even more radical Skateboard was entered for Sports Car drivers Masten Gregory & Indy Rookie Dave MacDonald. While Rolla Vollstedt’s (Vollstedt/Offy) racecar was driven by Len Sutton - as even perennial Roadster builder A.J. Watson dipped his toes into the rear-engine craze by bolting the upstart Ford DOHC V-8 behind the flanks of a bulbous Funny-car which was chauffeured by Roger Ward...

Smokey Yunick’s Hurst Floor Shift Special – wadded-up by NASCAR driver Bobby Johns now is currently on display at America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, WA...

As the influx of “Powered by Ford” rear engine “funny Cars” led to the Blue Oval sweeping the front row of the grid with its powerful (Ford Fairlane-based) DOHC V-8; with Team Lotuses Jimmy Clark on Pole. Bobby Marshman, a.k.a. “The American Jim Clark” second and Ward claiming the outside of Row 1 in P3; while Dan Gurney in the second Team Lotus-Ford wound-up starting sixth – being separated by the field’s fastest two Watson/Offy Roadsters of Parnelli Jones & A.J. Foyt fourth and fifth respectively...

4xth Indy 500 Entrants
1) Four Wheel  Roadster
(1) Fergeson-Novi

(11) Rear-engine “Funny Cars”
(1) Brabham-Offenhauser
 (1) Hallibrand/Ford
(2) Huffaker/Offenhauser
(1) Lotus Type 29 Ford
(2) Lotus Type 34 Ford
 (2) Thompson/Ford
 (1) Vollstedt/Offenhauser
(1) Watson-Ford

(21) Front engine Roadsters
(1) Epperly/ Offenhauser
(2) Kurtis-Novi
 (1) Kurtits/ Offenhauser
(1) Kuzma/ Offenhauser
(3) Trevis/ Offenhauser
(1) Walter/Offenhauser
(12) Watson/Offenhauser

So why do I bring all of this up? Whale, as ‘Juan ‘O the UNLUV’ed 40-something’s with Confuzers - remember us Mr. Barnes? (Careful ‘Big Feller, don’t go all Smack Happy on TWIT-er over us, as after all you could get fined; Hya!) Instead of that vaunted male 18-34 Testosterone dripping Rat pack... I’m afraid that Mr. Bernard & Co. nee, IndyCar will try mightily ‘Spinning the new ‘GEN-X Dallara DW12 Indy Car as different next year when the vaunted Aero kit’s finally become available... To which I’ll continue referring them as the Body-by-Mennen “AFX Aurora” Aerokit era – which won’t be multiple Chassis “Makes,” but instead what they truly represent, as in can Y’all say 100% Dallara’s!

So please IndyCar, DON’T try DUMBING DOWN the series by tellin’ us there’s Lotus, or Loti, (As I sincerely wish to see Lotus return next year; provided it’s a proper effort and its engine is competitive horsepower-wise...) Chevrolet’s and Honda racecar’s Ontrack... Let’s just call them what they really are, i.e.; Dallara-Honda, Dallara-Lotus & Dallara-Chevrolet’s. (As I’ll denote all entries this way...)

But you know what Randy Bernard said. We heard from you, the Fans – that you wanted competition, so we’ve come up with this solution... Uhm, NO! We wanted REAL competition – as in true multiple chassis & engine Manufacturer’s – like the Good ‘Ol Dazes. But hey, at least it’s a start, right? Now will somebody just tell me how long Dallara will be the exclusive Safety Cell provider?

As two and a quarter engines and one SPEC chassis is better than nothin,’ now go Get ‘em Simona...

(DOP: Photos Courtesy of No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer ‘CARPETS)