Archive | February, 2012

Test, Testing, TESTING, 1,2,3…..can anybody hear me? Over?

28 Feb

First gen DW-12 at the factory in Speeedway

Mid Ohio
Sebring again
My head will not quit spinning from all of the testing sessions conducted to date with the DW12 automotive racing vehicle. Is it a dog? Is it a hog? Is it just a pig dressed up in lipstick, waiting for a prom invitation? Is it the freaking prom queen, herself (as opposed to the affectionate term ‘himself’ that Pippa Mann refers to her main squeeze as)?

Let’s examine some of the tests and determine if we can see a modicum of improvement in the car, shall we? Back in the fall, it was noted that the soon to be named DW-12 had a penchant for swiping the wall on entry with its big, ugly a$$. It was further noted that upon exit of the turn the car just…went….straight, directly into the wall. Is that called a 2-fer? After the initial oval test in Indy, it was pretty common knowledge that the vehicle was also dog slow, to the tune of being in the 210 to 215 range. Dreams of doing 230 came crashing down, and open wheel fans everywhere hung their collective heads down in dismay. The desire to hear the posthumous voice of Tom Carnegie announcing a new track record many had wished for appeared to be slipping away.

Along about January, testing moved back to Sebring. Incremental improvements were being made to the Honda / Chevrolet powered cars and Dallara stepped up work on resolving the balance problems with the car. Most of the focus was on shifting the center of gravity up a bit to help stop the pendulum affect that exhibited itself on entry and exit of turns. A ton was written on this topic and it seemed that the solution was for Dallara to produce new “A arm” suspension parts that shifted the weight bias a bit to help dampen the loose rear end. Do that, or just add more ballast to the front of the car but who would want a heavier vehicle? Strangely, this phenomena was not as prevalent on the road courses and the car actually was faster on them than the previous Dallara, but the hopes of 230 at Indy were dashed.

Lotus finally produced a few engines and theirs was actually lighter than the other two offerings. This development has led to even more speculation about the possibility of Lotus being able to add weight to bring the car up to spec. The ability to add weight where they needed it potentially makes the playing field no longer level. Kudos to Dallara for the new suspension geometry, thus negating this supposed advantage. Lotus remains the little engine that (possibly) could.

After much gnashing of teeth and overcoming teething problems, a DW12 car was sent to Wind Shear (the full scale wind tunnel located in North Carolina) and it returned some very interesting data sets. On January 17th, Indy Car News posted this discussion by Will Phillips on their website:

“We then compared the 2012 car as it was run at its fastest during the (November) testing at the Speedway,” Phillips said. “We showed that aerodynamically the car was limited to 218.4 mph, so the (drivers/teams) did a good job of reaching its potential. We then compared the production car, which is slightly different from the prototype in terms of different mirrors, different rear wheel fairings, subtle differences in chassis construction and better integration of the Zylon (side intrusion) panels.

“Basically, the production car is more slippery (moves the air better) than the prototype. That lifted the speed as the car was run. We then looked at how could we improve the aerodynamic force of the car? Basically, by optimizing the aero set-up, re-balancing the car and then putting on some aero development parts, it showed that using a nominal assumed horsepower of 575 the car is capable of 225 mph.” Crisis Averted????

Finally, on February 16th, a much anticipated test at Fontana seemed to show that the corner had finally been turned and speeds were, in fact, picking up. Renowned auto sports writer Marshall Pruett detailed the results in a fine piece and you can find it here . Getting the car up to speed, or at least getting it to a point where it is as fast as last year’s model appears to have been accomplished.

The ensuing Rubens love fest at both Sebring and Sonoma, along with the gnashing of gears at Texas, Sebring and soon to be Barber Motor Sports park (a gorgeous facility) are all setting the plate for the opener at St. Pete. As one mechanic said; “this is worse than giving birth”. I wonder how HE came to that conclusion, as if he could ever do so! I till want to know who can provide the actual number of miles that have been driven in testing? That number has to be staggering!

Now, onto a topic that is very near and dear to my heart; Winter Indy Tweetup. In my last installment, I gave well deserved props to Elizabeth Wurtz and Monica Hilton. These two ladies work their hearts out to make this a success and the 2012 edition of WIT was a smashing success. The twittersphere lite up like a Christmas tree and stayed in the wings back mode (thanks Pressdog!) all day and well into the evening. Starting early in the morning on the 25th, we all met at the new Dallara factory for a behind the scenes look at the first chassis. It is unbelievably interesting to see that beast up close and to actually lay on the hands……. Please enjoy the amateurish video!

Later in the day, the WIT attendees went kart racing at Fast Times Karting Center. The top 3 drivers got to race against none other than hizzhonour, the mayor of Hinchtown as well as Logan Gomez. Logan was kind enough to drive the 2 seater all morning for those that purchased an insanely discounted ride around the town of Speedway, Indiana. It was 26 degrees when the first rider took off and Logan hung in there all morning. Talk about cold feet! At any rate, I could not help but pull out my old Flip camera and take some video of the trouncing given to the wannabes…..Big fun for sure! Thanks for the great time and of course, see YOU next time.



Six Weeks to St. Pete and Other IZOD Indy Car Series News

14 Feb

State Of IndyCar
Way too many announcements were made Monday, February 13th at Hilbert Circle Theater for me to cover in this space. I am a lowly amateur word smith hack so I leave that to the folks wearing their BIG boy pants and holding a quill pen. With the recently completed PUBLIC version of the State of Indy Car, the catS have been let out of the bag. In hours prior to the event, the vaunted Pressdog posted a timely piece on February 13th that hit many nails on the head with regards to the state of IndyCar. Now, Pressdog can be a bit snarky at times and I am sure that comes as a complete shock. However, I have asked you to add reading Bill’s blog to your list of important things to do. So, you had best rush over to his site and begin getting up to speed and as a public service, here is a killer, yet snark free link for your review:

State of Pippa Mann

I am an unabashed fan of upcoming talent amongst the ranks of IndyCar drivers. I can honestly say that no one works harder to secure funding than the young lass from around London, Ms. Pippa Mann. She goes about her days and sleepless nights relentlessly chasing $$$$$ and comes across as a sponsor’s dream. I have mentioned Pippa in the past and I suggest that you start today following her on Twitter @PippaMann. She is a prolific producer of tweets that are informative as she slugs through her day, keeping in top shape at Pit Fit and wearing out her phone. She is not so much a long shot to land a ride soon this season and I understand that she is pretty close. So, get your rich uncle to pony up a bit for the cause de Pippa…….support her in any way that you can. Click links to vote for her in different awareness raising endeavours or simply FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER.

State Of Winter Indy Tweetup

I am about to wet my pants in anticipation of the upcoming Winter Tweetup (WIT). If you call yourself an IndyCar fan and are in Indianapolis and do not make it to WIT on February 25th than you get to wear an “L” on your forehead for the rest of the day. The two drivers behind this event (get it, drivers; man do I amuse myself sometimes) are Monica Hilton and Elizabeth Wurtz. Hey, both of them run companies in addition to their day/night jobs. Monica is one of the few bloggers to obtain the coveted REAL position with a REAL race team doing PR work. She is one of the testaments to hard work, diligence and a sprinkling of snark and deserves her place in front of the doors that are beginning to open for her. Along with her friend, Elizabeth, they put on the preseason event that just melts my winter blahs away. Elizabeth is no stranger to a sustained high level of effort. To put it mildly, her night job involves saving lives in a neonatal ICU. As a sidebar of note, she recently married and this just adds to her mix of things that make up a balanced life. If you think you are a busy person, take a look at their calendars to see how you measure up. I do not see a lot of time marked as free………so hit the jump- and become informed about the upcoming WIT. Fun with a capital PH.

State of Simona

The incomparable Tony Johns over at Popoff Valve (yeah, read his stuff so that one day you too can be accepted into a school of higher education otherweise you get a big, fat “L” on your forehead too) sent a lovely Valentine’s day poem(s) to his fav ladies of racing. I liked that he used a header photo that was a shot of Simona’s helmet. Along with the bouquet of flowers, it is a very nice touch. Will they remember Tony for his words, actions or the restraining order????? But I digress. Not a single driver in 2011 had a more challenging season and many would have lost their mojo, never to get it back. Simona offers a few highlights and lowlights in a fine article written by Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times. This also was posted on Monday, February 13th so I guess the number 13 really is kind of lucky! Ponder this thought for a few moments, St. Petersburg is pretty close to being a hot bed of NAS-TAY Kar racing and here is an article about Open Wheel. Six weeks before the event. Maybe there is hope yet for the turnaround we fanatics yearn for.


I have liked Randy Bernard from the moment he started to listen to Robin Miller and then begin to ignore him and listen to the fans. Props to his recognition that the bloggers are giving lame stream media a run for their money (actually more like being pecked to death by ducks). Granted, the lame stream has far more bandwidth, bucks and bribes than the amateur hacks, but how did Randy really come to understand the interest level about double wide restarts, or the three abreast flying start at Indy? I think that he has gone about the business of IndyCar quietly and efficiently and has finally generated a positive trajectory for the sport. I was afraid that he would end up asking himself “what have I done” after a dust up or two with some of the death star teams. I was mentally prepared for the crush of events at Las Vegas to distract or even demoralize and eventually drive away Mr. Bernard. I almost cried during his speech Monday evening when he revealed that he would like to work in his position for as long as the Hulman George family will have him. I do not know many that can keep up with his pace. Good on ya, mate!

Talk to you next time!


Ten Questions With the Other Left Lobe of Motorsports

6 Feb

Very Distinguished Guest at IMS in early February

Super Cars for Super Indy

The Indy 500 is many different things to many different people, depending upon one’s perspective. When you consider the larger picture that encompasses the real-estate at the intersection of 16th street and Georgetown in Indianapolis, a better feel for the nuances of the place comes into focus. This goes beyond the scope of just the event, but more a matter of all of the functions and “background support” for what we know as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Imagine the complications when IMS went from a single event per year to today’s three events in a racing season. Now, imagine compacting three events into a single racing weekend……
From time to time, I like to focus on the BIGGER picture and dive into the roles of people that go into the supporting of the IMS event\IMS entity\IMS sphere. Please allow me to be clear, I embrace all forms of motorsport, but my heart lies in open wheel and the Indianapolis 500. It is only after looking at and thinking through the activity did I realize that it takes a boat load of people, passionate about racing, to make up the presentation of motorsport events at IMS.
I like dwell on the different roles that go into the production of the IMS brand. Specifically, I am very interested in what a digital producer does, how they come to the position and what they may be like outside of the grind called professional motor sport. What better way to do this than that to go ask the expert? No, I do not mean Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star; I refer to Mr. Brian Simpson of IMS. Get to know this gentleman better and become informed! I invite you to enjoy 10 questions with Brian Simpson, Digital Producer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1. How did you land your current gig at IMS?

It’s a long story that begins with working in a suite bartending and ending with the my current position. I knew long ago that motorsports was the industry I wanted to work in so I did everything I could to position my self close to the sport. I probably annoyed every team HR person to death with how many resumes I sent. Finally, in 2010, someone decided to give me a chance at IMS and the rest is history.

2. In our brief email conversations in the past, you mentioned that you had a desire to actually drive. What path were you following to become a shoe?

I would have loved to drive. My Father was a racer when I was young. We spent a lot of time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on weekends and that’s where I really fell in love with motorsport. The atmosphere is awesome and when you’re an impressionable youngster it’s easy for the look and feel of motorsport to stick with you for life. I unfortunately never got the opportunity to get behind the wheel but I’ve still managed to make it into the motorsports industry… so I guess you “win some and lose some.”

3. On your Linked In page, you belong to several professional associations. Elaborate on one of them that I find fascinating; Advanced Zero Emission Electronic Vehicles.

I wish the explanation for this was more exciting than it is. My association with this group is based purely on research. At IMS during opening weekend part of our 2nd Annual Celebration of Automobiles is a feature on electric vehicles. In my quest to learn more about these vehicles I dove into a few groups on LinkedIN to try and educate myself.

4. Since Superbowl Madness is sweeping Indianapolis, describe your involvement in the SuperCar project, or at least elaborate on the project for my readers.

I haven’t had much involvement with the SuperCar project other than supporting it via our various Social Media avenues. It’s an incredibly cool project and I’ve been lucky enough to photograph several of the cars and we also had them all onsite here at IMS for the Media Party.

5. Share a little about the Indycar website blog roll. I see that you have a few posts and was wondering if blogging is a requirement of the group or if you just like to write in your spare time. The August 16th post from 2010 is all about iRacing the Milwaukee Mile. Do you iRace a lot?

Blogging is not a requirement but there are several people in the sport who I would love to force to write so the fans could get their perspective on INDYCAR racing. As I was starting out in college I thought I wanted to be a journalist. My Father is a radio host and most of my family is involved in the media in one way or another so it seemed natural. As time went on I seemed to get away from writing and it’s been great to get back into it since I’ve been here at IMS.
iRacing is in one word AWESOME. I was lucky enough to be involved in the early stages of the simulator and I’m pretty sure the INDYCAR league I ran was one of the first ever leagues on iRacing. It was a blast. Getting to race with pros like Justin Wilson, Tomas Scheckter and Will Power on a weekly basis was very cool. I haven’t raced much recently as my schedule has limited me but I’m looking forward to getting back into it soon.

6. What will your Brickyard Weekend look like now that there are 3 different shows scheduled for the “Hallowed Ground”?

A BLUR! It’s going to be really interesting and extremely fun to work that event. I’m a big Sports Car fan so it will be really fun to have those cars here at the facility. It’s also a nice treat to have Ferrari and Audi returning to the Speedway. Hopefully we can get some drivers to run both or maybe all three events.

7. Sprouts and smoothies or Scotch and cigars?

Scotch and cigars for sure. In fact, I had one of both last night at the IMS media party. I do fancy myself a beer drinker though.

8. Back to Linked In; describe the group “IndyCar”. Some nefarious members in that group from Arni Sribhen to Tony Johns; Do you interact with any of them from that group? It seems to be a Marketing driven group.

I do interact with a lot of them quite often. That group consists of people I’ve known since I was in high school to people I’ve met as recently as a month ago. Arni raced with us on iRacing quite often and obviously we worked together quite a bit this past season. I don’t “know” Tony other than his twitter account but we’ve had some interactions.

9. IMS and the Motor Speedway encompass several different properties i.e. the 500, Brickyard and Moto GP. Do you blend them all into the brand or do you differentiate each property? They certainly seem to have different demographics and target markets?

It’s a little bit of both I suppose. You are correct that all of these events are a part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway brand and you’re also correct in saying that they have their own demographics and target markets. The challenge for us as a facility is showcasing these events to all of the groups we reach.
We want ALL race fans to love ALL of our events not just Indy or Brickyard or MotoGP. They’re all very unique and until you’ve attended all of them you really can’t get a feel for that. The Indy 500 is obviously the mecca, it’s why we have an IMS and it’s the single greatest sporting event in the world (in my opinion). However, MotoGP holds a special place in my heart. It’s an entirely different vibe from Indy and it’s very exciting. The riders are extremely friendly and approachable, much more than the F1 drivers were, and that provides a very unique and incredible experience for the fan.
I was here for the first Brickyard 400 and I’ve been to almost every one since. While, I don’t consider myself a NASCAR expert, I truly love that event. The fans really get behind it and that makes it really enjoyable for those of us working the event.

10. What constitutes a “good day” at the office for Brian Simpson?

My best days are always event days. There’s nothing in this world like driving into IMS at 4AM when it’s still dark out. The pagoda is all lit up, the race day date is shining brightly at the top and you know it’s go time. The day goes by so quick but at the end you look back and kind of realize that you were a part of the history of IMS. It’s a very proud feeling.

It is really kind of these behind the scenes Tweeps to give of their valuable time, just for a lowly small fry blogger. Remember, if someone does something for you that takes away from their very limited time during the course of their very busy day; they must be speaking from within a framework of passion. I enjoy listening to and conferring with those that are passionate. It makes for a fuller life!

Talk to you next time and of course, my sincere thanks to Brian Simpson . This gentleman exudes passion for motor sport and is one of the truly good guys that toil behind the scenes at IMS to bring you fabulous digital content!