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Old 25 Apr 2013, 00:20 (Ref:3239076)   #10
Maelochs
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Maelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of FameMaelochs will be entering the Motorsport Hall of Fame
Actually, I assume NASCAR will end up owning IndyCar at some time in the not-so-distant future. It depends if the current management team can keep the owners in line for another couple years while the word of the quality of the racing spreads, because lately IndyCar has been presenting really good racing.

However, the owners are still complaining about costs, and sooner or later the series will need a new chassis formula.

Unless IndyCar explodes in popularity over the next few years (and I don’t think Any racing series is likely to “explode in popularity” simply because there is so much competition for sports viewers and it takes time to develop a fan base sophisticated enough to follow road-racing,) the series will have to be Very careful not to let costs run too high. Also, the series desperately needs manufacturer dollars for promotion, so it needs to keep the engine regs acceptable to the big factories.

It would be great if IndyCar could attract other chassis manufacturers, and a stock-block option might be effective at attracting more manufacturers and even some smaller builders, but I don’t see IndyCar or any series offering the financial rewards to teams or sponsors to allow an old-school “build it within this box” rule book.

Chassis and motors cost too much to build, and small builders are not guaranteed sales. Also, the teams are not guaranteed good results if they buy a small-volume chassis. Unless a chassis builder has a really excellent (think Peter Wirth) computer-simulation wizard, then development is likely to be so expensive that the finished chassis would be too expensive for the teams to purchase.

The other side of that is competition. As I recall McLaren won about 85 percent of the Can Am races until Porsche got involved, and then Porsche won everything unless the cars broke. Would we all want to see races end with three-lap gaps between first and second, and half the grid in the pits by halfway through the race?

The reliability of well-developed cars is something we have come to expect to the point that we ignore it; only the very few shoestring operations (Libra?) which are the butt of jokes, really serve to remind us of how most of the grid operated forty years ago.

I think we would all like to see what would happen if a series went for wide-open rules, and the energy-consumption formula gives us the best chance for that at least in the engine bay. As more power sources are developed, more options will make sense; we could see some really exciting developments in the near future.

Also, engines are cheaper to test than chassis. A chassis really needs a track test every now and then during development (unless you hire Peter Wirth) but a motor can be pretty fully tested and developed on a dyno. Much cheaper to buy a dyno than to rent a track.

In the less near but not distant future, we might see the development of simulators reach such a point hat track testing is less important to chassis design, at which time it would be a lot more likely that a bunch of really smart guys could build a car in the basement—at least all the plans for the car, which they could then farm out to rapid-prototype companies, and small-volume machine- and carbon fiber shops.

Also likely, as materials developments advances, we will see more plastic engines and new carbon-fiber formulations (like Dr. Pannoz’s recyclable bodywork material) which can be formed in a small shop which doesn’t have a gigantic autoclave.

If we can be patient, we might actually see a return to the days when anyone with a torch and a lathe could build a winning car—except it will be anyone with a PC.
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