Dan Gurney, Don Panoz, Marino Franchitti; This reads like a murder’s row of automotive technology and development. It rings deeply of history and innovation. It sounds like an intro to a story describing events “back in the day”. Now add the name Ben Bowlby to the mix. How does your gut react to that addition? Does it squirm and twitch a tad? Does the term penismobile dash about inside of your head?
I was absolutely SHOCKED to see recent postings, news articles and even video of the latest exploits of Ben Bowlby and crew as they get dialed in for a demo at Sebring during the 12 hours of Sebring preparations and testing. About a week ago, a cell phone video of the car on track for the first time hit the world wide internets. There was tremendous speculation concerning the actual power plant under the hood. But I am getting ahead of myself. Many folks have speculated that this so called racing automotive vehicle would never be able to turn due to the unbelievably narrow front wheels. The contact patch on a tire that is only four inches wide is no more than 16 square inches times two tyres or about 32 square inches. Compare this to the modern day average of 40 square inches times two tyres and the ensuing carnage that would be brought forth with such a small contact patch for the Delta Wing was a certainty. Would it turn or just go straight into oblivion?
Fast forward to this week. A Nissan 1.5 liter turbo was discovered to be the power plant, Michelin is the tyre of choice and shocks are the size of a can of Red Bull. (I wonder why they never signed up to assist in the development?) Dan Gurney is once again doing something far more satisfying than performing Government contracts, Highcroft Racing has a new focus since the LMP program was ripped out from under them and Ben Bowlby is nearing vindication for his heretic visions of what a race car should be. Make no mistake, the focus of the group is INNOVATION. Once again, say that word with me S L O W L Y class, INN-O-VA-Shun.
A few months ago, I posted my feelings on innovation and they still hold true today. The Delta Wing Project stands by the following principles of development: Halve the aerodynamic drag, halve the power, halve the mass, halve the fuel consumption, halve the tyre consumption and still achieve the performance of their competitors. Admirable concepts, indeed. One would guess that this may cost in the neighborhood of 15 million dollars or so, which is pretty cheap! (See Dallara expenditures to date on the DW12.) A brief, 2 minute promo that was produced by NISSAN can be found here . Props and kudos yet again to the incomparable Marshall Pruett for his ability to bring us INNOVATIVE development in the world of motorsport. His scoop of other journalists on the topic of the Delta Wing culminated in this fine piece of video, released to us on March 13th. You can enjoy it NOW. (Comes with advertising, but what does not seem to these days?)
The next link is to some in car video with the other Franchitti guy, Marino, hustling the car around the test track in California. I like the sound and liken it to a kitten purring as it is about to pounce for the first time. A very lovely link is available here. Good googily moogily! The thing actually DOES turn and, in the words of Marino on his debrief, when asked “how does it feel”, he replied; “it …feels….like a….car”. Lord, I love innovation! I would like to venture a guess that this vehicle will be kicking some LMS A$$ come June. Too bad that we will not be seeing them, running three wide going into turn one at 16th and Georgetown! Just too darn innovative. Maybe the next generation will see the light, as we run out of fossil fuel.
I like to end most of my postings with something inspirational, or at least, informative. It could either be a remark about the overlooked talent, seeking a ride or just my thoughts on the state of Indy Car. Sometimes, I just sign off. This time, I want to point you to an article that was sent my way by a gentleman in Indy whom I had the pleasure of enjoying a coffee with last Saturday and we also did some bench racing. The name is Steve Whittich and we met at WIT last month. The Winter Indy Tweetup made for some new friends and I rank Steve as belonging in that club. I appreciate anyone that helps me write my little rag of a blog and remain grateful for those that do so. Steve’s bent is for the ladder system and he really is pretty astute as to the next up and comers. Remember, there is no Indy without an actual Road To Indy…….
At any rate, Steve sent me an article about Michael Johnson and you probably will not have a dry eye once you give this a quick read. That is okay; grown men can show emotion! I certainly did. Deserved credit is given to BLOG.SIMRACEWAY.COM and I bet that you will be giving them credit as well! Enjoy!
Thanks and we will continue our chat next time!