Tuesday, May 10, 2016

INDYCAR: Has the Aerokit Experiment already Failed?

It was a novel attempt by that majestically ICONIC group spearheaded by Gen. William R. Looney III to appease longtime Fans desires to see more than one Spec-chassis racing, but how soon will Thy Emperor's clothes look thou Same?

I suppose it's somewhat symbiotic that I became fully ensconced in Der Vurld de Motorsporten thirty years ago, for which hence I'll probably be eluding to over the following months whilst we're  A-L-L awash in the never ceasing Spin Cycle of some 100th Whats-Yuhs-Muh Callit?

Thus, perusing the 1986 CART/PPG IndyCar season's entries, there were three primary chassis: March 86C,  Lola T8600 and the Penske PC15 kitted out with three engines, with the majority of the field being propelled by the ubiquitous Cosworth DFX V-8. With others giving chase with those ultra Blown "Stock-block" Buick V-6's whilst el Capitano, nee Roger Penske in his never ending quest of the "Unfair Advantage" had proprietary usage of the brand new Chevrolet V-8, with all of these lumps' being of forced induction, nee turbocharging.

Yet they say that variety is the spice of life, as I  can still vividly recall when five rival chassis manufacturers fought for supremacy in CART, aka Championship Auto Racing Teams during the 1990's, when those Bloody British marques Lola and Reynard were joined by Eagle, Penske and Swift.

And if building your own chassis was good for The Captain, as Penske Racing's Poole, UK built racecars were winning at Mother Speedway, then By-gummit, others would join the party, most notably the team I rooted for yearly, i.e.; Truesports with Bad Arse Yank' Tintop Hombre Scotty "Scooter" Pruett at the controls.

while the only other in-house  chassis to win the Indianapolis 500 during this era of building your own racing car during those Halcyon 1990's was the Galmer G92 chassis, which was funded by Rick Galles and penned by Alan Mertens and I've got a soft spot for - since it became the car that propelled PacWest Racing onto the scene a year later after 'lil Al's victory scant inches ahead of somebody named Scott Goodyear!

As the finish was actually closer then the official record of 0.043-second due to the transponder of Al Unser Jr's car actually being affixed in the nosecone - whilst common practice was to place it in the left sidepod. Leading experts to recalculate the actual finish being a miniscule 0.0331 seconds instead, although the record books stand unchanged! A somewhat common practice at Mother Speedway; but I digress!

Yet, due to its winner take all mentality, over the past three decades, invariably the quest for the Lion's share of IndyCar team customers has always led to one supplier having a virtual monopoly, as the dominant March's of the 1980's - having won five consecutive Indy 500's between 1983-87 basically left the sport in the early 1990's after mixed success with Works Porsche and Alfa Romeo engine projects,

Yet apparently having overextended themselves,  March faded from Thy racing landscape as even the great Adrian Newey designed Leyton House Formula 1 cars didn't survive due to lack of funding.

Thus, March's spot upon the IndyCar grid was supplanted by Reynard, who slowly chipped away at the dominant Lola Cars, LTD, as history repeated itself when Reynard became the de facto chassis of choice - with Lola nearly knocked out of business, before fortunes shifted with Lola's revival while Reynard faded away in the early 2000's after chasing its own F1 ambitions whilst The Split was eroding Open Wheel Racing Stateside.

As the final Lola IndyCar chassis, the B1/00 raced for seven years before Champ Car switched over to the lower priced Panoz DP 01 for its final season of competition.

Yet inevitably in this era of financial constraints, with nobody talking about the extra quarter million engine leasing price increase introduced this year, ditching the nearly identical Aerokit's would be one way to reduce costs slightly perhaps? As I've got NO idea how many of these vaunted AFX Aurora Body-by-Mennen Aerokits each team purchases, which I think is cost capped at $70k per unit?

Alas, whilst I still yearn for those Halcyon Days 'O Multiple, real, honest-to-goodness Chassis manufacturers. Me Thinks it's impossible in today's realm 'O cash strapped competitors, since the only way it could sustain itself would be by making multiple Constructors mandatory, a la Formula 1...