Monday, February 20, 2023

May be IndyCar really is Becoming Your Grandpa’s Racing Series After All?

Yuhs know like Your Father’s Oldsmobile. Uh, where did They go?


Having given my two pesos worth upon the “Marketing” and Packaging side of IndyCar recently. Where presumably I may be considered to be a Card Carrying Member of les Miserables’! For which I’m just trying to work thru the endless amount of “Debbie Downers” IndyCar produced over Ye miserably,long Offseason before we go racing. I’ll try tackling some of the technical issues facing Indy Cars currently.


Yet like that much abused and over used Slogan. I’m Not an Engineer, and I most definitely Didn’t stay at a Best Western or whatever that Hotel Chain is?


As  I just really cannot get very excited over either Formula 1 or IndyCar right now, including finishing this languishing two part No Fenders story. Especially with IMSA’s brand new, shiny GTP Hybrid Prototypes stealing All of the Attenzione right now!


Whilst it’s certainly Old News over IndyCar belatedly Shelving it’s once vaunted “Loud ‘N Bold” 2.4-litre (ERS) Energy Recovery System, ergo Hybrid motors that most lately were supposed to debut in 2024. For which Racer’s Marshall Pruett eloquently summed up in his article last year that so enraged some of the Hierarchy at Starship IndyCar!


Since I can still Hear Marshall mimicking El Capitano’ in the Daytona Paddock saying “I thought You were our Friend!”


Instead of totally rehashing what’s already been said, I’ll try looking at some of the other technical issues surrounding IndyCar.


What seems to be getting very little traction, except for when Marshall Pruett wrote about it following their initial tests. And as one astute Week in IndyCar Podcast participant, or was it the Racer Mailbag?


Noted How Thars currently No plans for increasing the current 2.2-litre twin turbo V-6 engines “Base” Horsepower. Which will be mated to a Spec ERS unit weighing More than the current Gearbox ancillaries. Meaning that future performance output will Decrease Overall! And Yes, I know that the ERS will provide extra Horsepower “Oomph,” but I tend to think it’s only being used to replace the vaunted P2P, i.e.; Push-to-Pass extra Horsepower. Thinking I’ve read/heard an extra 100bhp?


As All four of the IndyCar Drivers that participated last year in the “Dry Run” test, i.e.; Pato O’Ward, Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves All stated when Bolting an additional 100lbs to the rear of their DW12’s to mimic the new ERS systems added weight, noted how Horribly Slow it was in the corners, Braking and Acceleration, etc. With Newgarden going even so far as saying it would make it more difficult for the “Average” IndyCar driver to drive!


Which I get how at least one of the two current engine manufacturers, i.e.; Chevrolet and Honda said either IndyCar goes Hybrid or they Walk! But if your “New & Improved” racecar is Slower than the previous Vintage eligible model. Then, what’s exactly the point behind this? Beside being able to tout you’ve gone Hybrid.


In the December 28th Racer Mailbag, Marshall Pruett notes that the majority of the expected $250-300,000 upgrade Cost for Indy Cars “Hybridization” will be for the brand new ERS Bell Housing, for which I can only Arse-sume is for each individual chassis a team owns. Since it would seem a stretch to be swapping these out frequently, i.e.; separate Road and Street Course and Oval Chassis. Not to mention that Nobody’s talking about how long they’ll last? And what happens due to either Crash damage or mechanical Failure?


Meanwhile no one less than Adrian Newey, a Bloke who knows a decent amount about designing racecars! Is quoted saying How He believes that Formula One’s Sustainability push is Illogical! And that Everybody’s missing the point in regards to motor racing and the Automotive Industry as a whole. That they’re All missing the point of How much (extra) energy it takes to keep these Heavier Hybrid vehicles moving!


And that’s without even getting into the incessant Greenwashing that All of Motorsports seems to be doing in a concerted effort with the Auto Manufacturers over Zero emissions et Al! Which I’m saving to tackle in a separate post! As Sorry IndyCar, but you’re Nowhere near being sustainable, so Put A Sock in It, will Yuhs!


Although in Indy Cars defense, I believe they’re working on a titanium Bell Housing version to get the weight down to only 80lbs additionally overall. Along with what Arse-sumedly the world’s first ever ERS system used on Ovals. Not to mention the extremely tight packaging constraints, since there’s Zero room for the traditional Battery pack, et Al on a IndyCar chassis!


Meanwhile, Marshall’s been trumpeting the charge for IndyCar to come up with a different engine formulae, specifically one that allows multiple different engine specifications. For which I’m currently wondering why turbocharging is the preferred choice over Supercharging?

As why couldn’t Indy Cars allow us to return to the era of Straight eight cylinder “Blown” racing engines?


As I grew up in the era of CART, i.e.; Championship Auto Racing Teams, which arguably were the Baddest Arse era of Indy Cars! And featured such diverse engines from Ford/Cosworth, Chevrolet/Mercedes Benz/Ilmor, Honda, Toyota, Porshce and Alfa Romeo. All being of the sport’s de riggour 2.65-litre V-8 single turbocharger era.


And that’s without mentioning those ubiquitous Buick Stock Block motors. Y’all know the ‘lil Buick Indy V-6’s lumps’ that were notorious for being fast, unreliable “Hand Grenades!”


Although I tend to recall that there were previous attempts with Chevrolet Stock Block engines. Whilst the Buick’s were produced between 1982-1997, which I don’t know if that includes it’s later Indy Racing League Menards guise or not?


As the slightly oversized three litre (3.03 displacement) 90 degree V-6 motor with it’s single Garret turbocharger were claimed to produce an amazing 800-900bhp!

And yes, I’m aware that Buick V-6 Shod racecars won Pole positions at Mother Speedway. And that if I remember correctly? Big Al’ (Unser) even finished third in one Indianapolis 500 for Kenny Bernstein’s King Motorsports outfit…


While I also recall that Honda initially began the 2.2-litre era using just a single turbocharger before being mandated to use two a la Chevy.


As you’ve gotta wonder why IndyCar has been completely unable for a Decade now to coax a third engine manufacturer into racing in IndyCar’s?


Or is the series itself just so “Spooked” to allow multiple, different engine configurations after somebody named El Capitano’, nee Roger Penske exploited the Rulebook when unleashing that Mercedes Benz Stock Block V-8 motor that Decimated the entire Indy 500 field in 1994…