Wednesday, April 6, 2016

RETRO: A Soothing Bedtime Lullaby – Panozes, Loti, Sugar ‘N spice & Everything Nice...

Have you seen these missing Champ Cars? Photo by Buddy Campbell. (Image source:
Yeah, I know we’re supposed to be reveling in thy Anticipation of another glorious Indy 500, especially being the 100th running of this storied event just some 50+ Days away...

Yet, now that we've been calling I-T INDYCAR A-L-L these year's, as 'Thar, I used ALL CAPS Randy; By Gummit; Hooah! As Y'all remember Randy "The CandyMann" Bernard, right?

Alas, what better way to celebrate thy just concluded Fool's Fool Day then with a 'lil April Fool's lullaby; Err Nightcap from the vast Fermentin' caverns 'O Nofendersville, eh?

As recall over five years ago in forgotten places far, far away, when the Indy Car Series was preparing to fire-up those bee-LUV-ed Honda 3-liter Normally Aspirated V-8 lumps for the final year’s running. With Spring Training having occurred along with Indy Cars final Tune-up prior to Indianapolis being that rain soaked Brazilian Samba on The Streets of Sao Paolo May 1-2 on some defunct TV Network called Versus!

Yet this Bedtime story has been naggin’ at Mwah Off and On ever since, and now that we're just two months shy of thee El Speciale 100th Running of the International Sweepstakes race, building thy foundations for the Indy 500, what better time to be caught Fraternizing with les Miserable's, right Mr. Mark Miles; Ja Volt! We have ways of making Yuhs speak positively; Schnell-Schnell!

Once Upon a Time, in an American Open Wheel Racing Land Far-Far away... There were two rival competing entities known as CART/Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing League; whilst Across-the-Pond, there were two warring factions known as Team Lotus vs. Group Lotus, as some Snake Oil Salesman was trying to pump oil into a legendary brand.

Both of these Battlegrounds featured the classical David versus Goliath scenario's, as ultimately the IRL with ‘Ronnie (Tony) George at the helm; uze know – ‘Dat guy with the initials TG; URGH! Who’s been reinserted into the Hulman & Co. Board of Directors more than once, a la a Cat with Nine life's - which I'm not sure how many he's used up?

Since previously Mr. George had wielded the vast financial might of the Hulman-George Family, not to mention the hallowed grounds ‘O 16th & Georgetown at his disposal to ultimately quash the ‘lil Upstarts known as CCWS!

Yet fortunately these two factions finally became whole after having been broken into half some dozen-years prior.

Meanwhile in Bloody 'Ol England, we saw a somewhat mirrored image occurring in the never ending Tug-O-War over the “legal” rights to hoist the iconic name of Lotus upon their Nosecone, Sidepod, Airbox and wherever else prominent in the rarefied playground known as The Pinnacle of Motorsport, (Formula One) in hopes of stirring the souls of Motorsports to recall the glorious yesteryear of Colin Chapman’s F1 Dynasty...

Thus, for the most part I paid very little Attenzione to Group Lotuses launching of its heralded ULTIMATE Track Day car, the Lotus-by-Lotus Exos T-125 – of which 25 lucky, willing & bamboozled participants would reportedly have the opportunity to shill out nearly seven-figures to buy what Group Lotus deems an F1 “Inspired” single seater racecar.

Yet several weeks ago. Otay, HELL! It was Bloody Years ago now... When ironically, in Mid-January, 2011 - since Y’all know the drill here in Nofendersville, right? Ah, the life of a Puttering ‘Vurd Botcherer, nee "Keyboard Warrior;" Hooah!

Hence, I read an interesting tidbit ‘O speculation 'Wayback then about how possibly the F1 customer Lotus T-125’s, Err Group Lotus T-125 F1 “INSPIRED” chassis then currently up for sale for $950 "large" (thousands) could potentially have been “Cobbled Together” from ex-Panoz DP-01 Indy Cars?

Joe Saward:
“Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven, who owns Cosworth and in working closely with Group Lotus in various different ways would no doubt have been happy to sell these old cars (Panoz DP01) and there is no reason why such a car should not be described as “F1-inspired”, as clearly it is the case.”

Yet initially I saw two immediate problems with this speculation towards the usage of the Panoz DP01 as the basis of the Lotus T-125:

1) I thought the various Champ Car World Series (CCWS) team owners had to BUY their chassis outright; as I seem to recall Eric Bachelart screaming BLOODY murder over having just shilled out $1m for new Panoz DP01 racecars for the ’08 CCWS season prior to the Champ Car-IRL Unification.

2) Obviously they’ve got the WRONG ‘lumps in them – having been 2.65-liter Turbocharged V-8’s, which it doesn’t seem very smart/possible? To punch ‘em out to 3.5-liters; not to mention reworking the discarded turbocharging bits...

Thus, did Kevin "SMILEY FACE" Kalkhoven and his Good Buddy Gerald Wimpy' Forsythe reacquire all of the “Slightly-used” Panoz DP01 chassis during the reunification process? Inquiring Minds wanna Know!

So let the games begin – as your Humble No Fenders scribe hunkered down in front of zed Confuzer for several hours *some 5yrs ago) trying to unravel this conundrum of just exactly where do old single seater racing cars go?

Therefore, let’s examine the following items, shall we? We know that the Panoz DP01 was produced for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, and the series final race, the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix by Elan Motorsport Technologies, which like many business entities weaves a muddled web.

As the Panoz name predates the Champ Car usage by several years, whilst Panoz's foray into the Indy Racing League stems from its acquisition of G-Force Technologies, a company originally founded by a one Mr. Floyd "Chip" Ganassi and Ken Anderson in 1991!

G-Force, Dallara and Riley & Scott were the IRL's original chassis suppliers beginning with the 1997 season, when G-Force swept the Top-3 finishing spots at Indianapolis,  before its second generation IRL chassis was victorious in the hands of Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000.

While the Panoz name should be familiar to racing fans of both Indy Cars and Sports Cars since it was Don Panoz who created the American Le Mans Series beginning in 1999, before finally Mergifiying with the rival Grand Am Sports Car entity in 2013, which ultimately form today's unified Weathertech Sportscar Championship now in its third season.

Panoz thru its racecar production arm, Elan  Motorsport Technologies acquired G-Force brand in 2002 and move their operations to Braselton, Georgia. Beginning in 2005 when the G-Force name was abandoned.

Subsequently, the third and final IRL generation G-Force chassis designed by ex-Lola designer Simon Marshall became rebranded as the Panoz G-Force and promptly won the '03 Indy 500 with Penske Racing's Gil de Ferran at the controls, before securing its final Indianapolis Motor Speedway Borg Warner trophy with Buddy Rice the following year.

Panoz then relinquished its IRL chassis operations as Dallara flexed its considerable might, with teams shifting their allegiances until the last Panoz chassis contesting the '08 Indy 500 failed to make the show after Phil Geebler wrecked it! As Panoz was focusing primarily upon rival Champ Car World Series DP01 production instead, which lasted for one year, with Panoz ceasing all IndyCar production at the end of '08.

Reputedly the DP01 served as the basis for the DP09 – which was the European Superleague Formula racing series chassis between 2008-10, with its normally aspirated 4.2-litre V-12 belching out 750bhp being produced by Menard Competition Technologies.

...Meanwhile on the Lotus T-125’front, regarding its Formula 1 derived engine, ironically the Indy Racing League mandated a maximum rev-limit of 10,500 RPM'S for the 3.5-liter normally aspirated V-8 powerplants. Then upon the reduction to 3.0-liters, interestingly the maximum RPM limit was reduced to a maximum of 10,300RPM, via rev-limiter – and Oh, by-the-way; these V-8 lumps just so happen to miraculously churn out 650bhp... Coincidence???

As I'll ARSE-Sume that Cosworth simply wanted to get some more usage out of its forlorn 3.5-litre V-8's which they already had the necessary tooling available for...

Year: 2003
Model: Dallara
Chassis Type: Monocquoe Construction unknown
Powerplant: Cosworth XG*: 3.5-liter Normally Aspirated V-8
(XG* - 2003-spec Ford/Cosworth engine built for Chevy’s GenIV IRL engine)
Horsepower: 650bhp
Transmission: 6-speed Sequential shift?

Year: 2007
Model: Panoz DP01
Chassis Type: Carbon Fibre Monocquoe
Powerplant: Cosworth XFE: 2.65-liter Turbocharged V-8
Horsepower: 750bhp; P2P 800bhp
Transmission: 7-speed Semi-automatic – Paddle shifting
(Onboard Starter motor)

Lotus T-125
Year: 2010/11
Model: T-125 Exos
Chassis type: Carbon Fibre Monocquoe
Engine: 3.5-liter Normally Aspirated Cosworth V-8
10,300RPM Redline; with P2P 10,800 RPM ceiling: 640/650bhp.
Transmission: 7-speed Semi-automatic – Paddle shifting
(Onboard Starter motor)
(P2P = Push-to-Pass – originating in CCWS)