A Good Sound – Mikhail Aleshin

Mikhail Aleshin

From guitars to race cars Mikhail Aleshin enjoys the power chords you feel in the square of your chest.

Mecca of Speed: Welcome back to Road America, you had a few traveling challenges coming back from France, was it a matter of missing details on your visa?

Mikhail Aleshin: I needed to do one more visa to get back in and it just took more time that we expected.

Mecca of Speed: How did your first session in the car feel today, particular with the windy conditions?

Mikhail Aleshin: You can feel the wind a bit, but it’s the same for everyone. It definitely makes our job a little more difficult. This morning we had some technical issues that we are trying to solve but the team is doing a very good job.  They always solve our problems, it’s a technical sport and sometimes it takes a little extra work to sort things out. more

Franchitti Record is Safe

Dario Franchitti set the lap record at Road America of 1:39.866 (145.924 mph) in 2000. For comparison, last year Will Power clinched Pole Position with a time of 1:42.2105 (141.379 mph).

If you weren’t around “back in the day” here are a couple of factors to consider about the CART series in 2000.

The 2.65L twin turbo V-8 was being stressed under heavy development by four manufactures, Honda, Toyota, Cosworth and Mercedes-Benz. Engine limitations were only in the form of how many the manufactures brought to the track. A race weekend often started with the practice engine, change to a qualifying engine, then one more change to a race engine.

Chassis were spec only in dimension and regulation. Reynard, Lola and Swift were all in the game developing their own chassis. Additionally during that timeframe each chassis had a Superspeedway, short oval and road course set-up. There was also a Road America set-up used by some times which is best described as a road course package crossed with a speedway to capitalize on the long straightaways.

Firestone tires were on all cars across the board.

Indycar will not break the track record at Road America this year, but don’t be surprised at a Pole Position of 1:41.900. If the 2018 aero kit performs as well as it looks, a time 1:41.500 can be expected.

Respect where the series came from and look forward to where it’s going.

Verizon IndyCar Series Test at Road America

Ryan Hunter-Reay Indycar at Road America 2016On June 14th the Verizon IndyCar Series will be testing at Road America in preparation for the Verizon IndyCar Kohler Grand Prix June 22-25th.

Verizon IndyCar Series drivers participating include:

  • Alexander Rossi – Andretti Autosport
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay – Andretti Autosport
  • Marco Andretti – Andretti Autosport
  • James Hinchcliffe – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
  • Ed Jones – Dale Coyne Racing.

Indy Lights drivers that will share seat time with IndyCar teams include:

  • Nico Jamin – Andretti Autosport
  • Dalton Kellett – Andretti Autosport
  • Matheus Leist – Andretti Autosport
  • Zachary Claman DeMelo  – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Testing will take place from 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Fans are welcome to watch testing for free by showing proof of advance ticket purchase to the Verizon IndyCar Series Kohler Grand Prix scheduled for June 25. Test session tickets are available at the gate for $10.

Anyone interested in purchasing an advance ticket to the Verizon IndyCar Series Kohler Grand Prix during the test session will receive a $10 discount.

Rahal Calls It

After winning the first Indycar race on Saturday Graham Rahal called it the way it is in regards to Lewis Hamilton’s recent remarks about Fernando Alonso’s qualifying and performance at the Indy 500.

“Look, man, when I saw Lewis Hamilton’s comment, you guys know me, it took me everything I had in my body not to say something,” Rahal said. “Legitimately, in Formula 1, over his entire career, it’s been a two-car race, four max, max.”

Formula One is the top level of racing but Rahal nailed the number of contenders for a race win in the series.

Rahal went on to win the second race on Sunday and become the first repeat winner of the season.

 

 

Speed

The 100th running of the Indy 500 was a milestone, but there is electricity around the 101st running. The Fernando Alonso story has brought a global interest to the race that the series that hasn’t seen since the mid 1990s. I remember first hand watching the Nigel Mansell draw and multiple races.

The story, similar to Formula One is speed. The year after the split in 1997 the Indycar series switched to naturally aspirated engines and the speeds dropped. The pitch was fans can’t tell the difference between 220 mph and 230. Add a ton of downforce and cars were having no problem running flat out lap after lap. The racing was more pack mentality. Watching the cars trimmed out and twitching bring back an element of running on the edge.

Scott Dixon pole speed of 232.164 and the top fifteen drives qualifying speed of 230+ are a signal to the rest of the motorsports work, speed is back at Indy.

Three From The Past

2018 Indycar Concept Sketches
2018 Indycar aero kit concept sketches.

Retro is the big word when looking at the 2018 Indycar aero kit concepts and I don’t have a problem with that. The current aero kit is a bit bulky for my taste and a slimmed down thoroughbred will be a welcome evolution for the series. These are just concept sketches and no definitive definition of what past designs may be influences for the new look. Below are first impressions of three design traits from pat cars I see in the sketches.

Panoz DP01 – The gills on some of the side pod sketches remind me of the last chassis from the ChampCar series. On the Panoz DP01 the gills were farther back to allow air to exit and cool the exhaust. The location of the gills on the concept look to be focused primarily on airflow for the radiators, as they are farther up the side pod compared to the DP01.

Gurney Eagle 987 – The high side pod inlets and overall flowing arc draws comparison to the Gurney Eagle 987 ChampCar chassis. The 987 had many innovations that influenced the later Lola designs in the series. The 987 capitalized on smooth flowing lines and if the Toyota engine program did not suffer the setback created by a fire at the engine facility the 987 would have likely lived up to the teams legacy.

1992 Galmer – The removal of the air box, a hold over from the natural aspirated engines brings the appearance of countless turbocharged Indycars. The forward canted roll hoop on some of the sketches reminds me of the 1992 Galmer chassis. Most of the roll hoops are primarily of a vertical design, but the Galmer influence of a potential forward canted roll hoop would give a more aggressive cue to the top of the car.

The final aero configuration will be debuted later this year and with the talk of one or two additional engine manufactures looking at potentially joining the series Indycar is heading in the right direction.

Information Feeds Growth – Conor Daly

Conor Daly in Indycar at Road AmericaAs a second generation driver Conor Daly used information and hard work to make a name for himself in Indaycar.

Mecca of Speed: Your career started with a great run in go-karts, are you still involved in karting at any level?

Conor Daly: Literally nothing, I don’t even own a go-kart. My dad sold all of our stuff. I would love to have a go-kart again. The only race I do is the RoboPong 200 in New Castle. That is an awesome race, it’s the most fun event of the season. I try to do it every year if I can.  It all just depends on who I can get to bend and get into their go-kart. more

Never Stop Growing – Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud at Road AmericaSimon Pagenaud started climbing the open wheel ladder in Europe. In 2006 he journeyed to the United States and won the Atlantic championship. From there it has been a journey of both open wheel and sports car. Regardless of the formula Simon Pagenaud has never stopped growing as a driver.

Mecca of Speed: When you won the Atlantic championship and moved up to ChampCar what did you find to be the biggest change?

Simon Pagenaud: The biggest thing was the difference in power between an Atlantic car, or any other car I had driven in the past compared to the ChampCar. At that time, they had about 800 hp and I had never driven such a powerful car.

That was a big jump, it took me the whole season to get adjusted to it. It wasn’t the overall speed that was the problem. The chassis of the ChampCar was very similar to the Atlantic car, the overall power was the big difference. more

Racing at the Best Places – Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal Indycar at Road AmericaGraham Rahal grew up at race tracks across the U.S. that included a lot of days at the mid-west circuits.

Mecca of Speed: Welcome back to Road America you are a very busy man this week.

Graham Rahal: Yeah, it’s been busy but it’s been good. It’s cool to see everybody, a lot of people here; a good buzz is in the air.

Mecca of Speed: When you or other drivers give ideas on how to improve the Indycar series, how much does the governing body listen?

Graham Rahal: I don’t know, but I hope that they listen. We try to influence the series to go to places that are great. There are a lot of people involved in the series today and some of them have never even been here. Some probably didn’t realize the size and capacity of Road America. It’s really cool to be here and see all the fans.

I hope that we can influence the series more in the future. It’s hard; everyone has their own agenda. Mine has always been to go race at the best places and this is definitely one of the best. more