Sebring Test Concludes Aeroscreen Testing

Photo: Pato O’Ward testing at Sebring today. Thanks to Vincent Anderson for the photo and his comments below:

On seeing the drivers in the cars: “The glove colors will be more important this year. mandatory white or neon gloves?”

He could see the drivers”More than i thought but less than last year. Pato’s white gloves were working the wheel today. his white gloves stood out.”

sebsebring

Sebastien Bourdais tries out the aeroscreen. Photo: Vincent Anderson

 

From Indycar:

Aeroscreen passes its final 2019 test
at Sebring International Raceway

SEBRING, Florida (November 5, 2019) – INDYCAR continued its Aeroscreen development program Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway with Arrow McLaren SP and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan participating in the fourth and final test session of the year.

The conditions for the one-day test could only be described as ideal for testing the safety innovation, with the weather unseasonably hot and humid like the NTT IndyCar Series teams will face through the summer stretch and the track was predictably bumpy in replicating a street course.

Amid all that, the Aeroscreen, scheduled for its race debut at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13-15 in St. Petersburg, Fla., performed as designed once again.

“And we checked boxes with drivers who had not previously experienced the Aeroscreen,” said Bill Pappas, INDYCAR’s vice president of competition and engineering.

Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, Patricio O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP and Santino Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing, who utilized Bourdais’ car in for the session, were the latest group of NTT IndyCar Series drivers to have the opportunity to test the Aeroscreen.

The steamy Florida weather allowed for trying various driver cooling options and further validate the anti-fogging mechanism. Bourdais, who wears glasses, had no visibility issues in his first experience with the Aeroscreen. O’Ward, in his first on-track experience with Arrow McLaren SP, similarly adapted quickly to his new cockpit surroundings. Ferrucci had no issues while driving Bourdais’ car.

Pappas said INDYCAR and its suppliers are on schedule to deliver Aeroscreens to all full-season teams next month as preparation builds for Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The Aeroscreen was announced in May and developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies in conjunction with INDYCAR.

Arrow McLaren SP and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan became the fourth and fifth teams to work with the Aeroscreen. Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske and Andretti Autosport participated in tests last month that were held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park and Richmond Raceway. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and Will Power of Team Penske took part in the test at IMS; Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport and Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske tested at Barber; and Josef Newgarden of Team Penske and Dixon handled Richmond.

These tests were designed to replicate the various conditions competitors will face during the 17-race season. IMS is the largest (2.5 miles) and fastest oval on the schedule while the .75-mile Richmond layout is the shortest of the five oval tracks. Barber Motorsports Park is a permanent road course like INDYCAR will use on seven occasions next year, and there will be five street-course races where Sebring-like bumps must be navigated.

In consultation with drivers, INDYCAR will offer standard cooling options at each venue in order to keep the playing field level.

“These will be areas with specific parts,” Pappas said. “Teams won’t be free to develop their own ductwork.”

Bourdais said the utilization of a helmet duct likely will be the best option for particularly hot days.

“It’s figuring out what’s the best (cooling) option,” he said. “But it’s nothing we can’t work through.

“In races, we drive through clouds of debris, particularly on speedways and superspeedways, so I think this is a massive step (in protection). It’s a much safer place for us IndyCar drivers – I think everyone is pleased with it.”

The drivers said it took very little time to get acclimated to it.

“You can barely tell the screen is there because it’s pretty clear,” O’Ward said. “Obviously, it’s a bit more enclosed, but you see everything you usually see. The eyes kind of look around the halo, so you don’t really notice it. Once you’re pushing, you don’t really see the Aeroscreen.”

Update: End of an Era

It has been 366 days since Mari Hulman George died and it is just a few weeks short of when Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Eddie Rickenbacker in 1945. I have a feeling Roger Penske will pay a little more than the $750,000 that Hulman paid.

This has been an emotional day for me. IMS has been in the Hulman/George family my entire life.

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From today’s Press Conference:

The key word was stewardship. Tony George said  “…we as a family all agreed we needed to have a conversation with Roger Penske. I approached him at the final race of the season, not wanting to distract from the task at hand, which was bringing home another championship, but I wanted to wish him well on the grid, and I just simply said, I’d like to meet with him and talk about stewardship.”

Roger Penske later added, “I’ve got a big commitment here to take over certainly as the steward of this great organization and what’s been done here in the past for so many decades. It’s my commitment to the Hulman family. The fact that you would select us is an opportunity to take on this investment, it’s amazing, and I just want to thank Tony and everyone else that’s been involved in this.”

I like that both George and Penske used this term. it was comforting that it didn’t sound like a huge corporate takeover.

As far as personnel at IMS, Penske said, “we have no intention of changing the management teams that are place today, and certainly we’ll have a board that we’ll announce at the time of the final closing ofthe transaction, and we hope to have a diverse group of people on there that know the business and can support the business, take us to the next step. That’s going to be part of our plan.And we also, just to put it in perspective, we’ve offered the Hulman family members if they’d like to have an interest in the company that we would look at that during between now and when we get to the end of the closing.”

I take some comfort that there may still be some family involvement in the Speedway.

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How My Day Started

I got a text from a friend as I was having breakfast with some friends.  “What’s up with the sale of the track to Penske? ” I read it twice. Then I looked it up. My first impression was shock. Not only the track, but the series and other properties were sold. Here are my initial thoughts. I will update this story after the 11 am press conference.

IMS

I have never in my lifetime known the Speedway to be owned by anyone except Tony Hulman or the Hulman -George family. It makes me to sad to think that the Hulman name will no longer be a part of the Speedway going forward.

I had a feeling when Mari Hulman George died  that her death started the track on an inevitable path to today’s announcement. According to Tony George, the family has been searching for a buyer for the last ten years.

There may not be many changes for 2020 because much is already locked in, but there could be some big differences in 2021.

I’m glad the Speedway was sold to someone who has respect for the track and the Indianapolis 500. Penske’s love of racing began at his first 500:

“I really have to wind back to 1951 when my dad
brought me here when I was 14 years old, and I guess
at that point the bug of motor racing got in my blood I’d
have to say, and to think about what it’s meant to our
company, the brand that we’ve been able to build — it’s
interesting, I talked to Mario Andretti today and AJ
Foyt, and we all agreed what the Indianapolis 500 has
meant to us as individuals and as a company, and
certainly our company.”

My concern is Penske’s history of track ownership.  I hope eventually the track isn’t sold to NASCAR.

I have many other concerns, such as track personnel, new spectator policies, and physical changes to the track. I’m not sure if any will be answered at the press conference.

Penske talked of stronger promotion for the Brickyard 400 and the possibility of a 24 hour race. I’m not sure the track or community is ready for a 24 hour event.  A shorter endurance race might work.

Indycar

More tracks could open up to Indycar races with Penske’s influence.

The double header with NASCAR could moire easily become a reality.

I have a concern about conflict of interest with a race team owned by the owner of the series. This concern also extends to the 500, but the Speedway ownership has fielded cars in the past.

Will Penske leadership help Indycar obtain a third OEM? With Honda looking at NASCAR, another OEM takes on  more urgency. A fourth one wouldn’t be a bad idea either. I can’t see Chevy  covering the entire grid by themselves.

If you had hopes of Detroit moving to a different date to get an oval the week after the 500, those dreams are gone. Also, the Belle Isle races will stay on NBC. I hope NBC adds a couple more races then.

As with IMS, 2020 is probably not changing, but after that, especially when current agreements expire, everything is wide open to change. I don’t see this change affecting the 2022 new car and engine  plans.

My head is still spinning.

 

 

 

The End of an Era

I got a text from a friend as I was leaving breakfast with some friends.  “What’s up with the sale of the track to Penske? ” I read it twice. Then I looked it up. My first impression was shock. Not only the track, but the series and other properties were sold. Here are my initial thoughts. I will update this story after the 11 am press conference.

IMS

I have never in my lifetime known the Speedway to be owned by anyone except Tony Hulman or the Hulman -George family. It makes me to sad to think that the Hulman name will no longer be a part of the Speedway going forward.

I had a feeling when Mari Hulman George died 366 days ago that her death started the track on an inevitable path to today’s announcement.

There may not be many changes for 2020 because much is already locked in, but there could be some big differences in 2021.

I’m glad the Speedway was sold to someone who has respect for the track and the Indianapolis 500.

My concern is Penske’s history of track ownership.  I hope eventually the track isn’t sold to NASCAR.

I have many other concerns, such as track personnel, new spectator policies, and physical changes to the track. I’m not sure if any will be answered at the press conference.

Indycar

More tracks could open up to Indycar races with Penske’s influence.

The double header with NASCAR could moire easily become a reality.

I have a concern about conflict of interest with a race team owned by the owner of the series. This concern also extends to the 500, but the Speedway ownership has fielded cars in the past.

Will this help Indycar obtain a third OEM?

As with IMS, 2020 is probably not changing, but after that, especially when current agreements expire, everything is wide open to change.

I will update this post after the press conference. My head is still spinning.

 

 

 

Indycar Grid Update and Other News

This is the post I was going to write earlier this week before something happened. I think this should be safe until next week or longer, I hope. The good news is the NTT Indycar Series grid for 2020 is nearly full. The bad news for drivers on the outside is the grid is nearly full. Here is a team by team look  at where things stand.

Chevrolet Teams

Penske– All set with the same lineup as last year- 2019 champion Josef Newgarden, 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power.

Carpenter- Nothing confirmed for either car except for Ed Carpenter running the ovals. I expect Spencer Pigot to return to the 21. The road course races for the 20 could go to Rinus Veekay, although he is seeking a full time seat. Would Carpenter consider a full time car for VeeKay and run the 20 just on ovals?

Carlin- Nothing solid at Carlin yet. Will Max Chilton be back for just the road/street courses?  Can Charlie Kimball get a full time budget? Who else might be in the mix? Ed Jones, Matheus Leist, and Conor Daly are some of the available talent.

Foyt- Tony Kanaan will be in the 14 for his final full time ride in Indycar. The seat in the 4 car is still open. It likely won’t be Leist again. Right now this ride is wide open.

AMSP- Plenty has been written about this team this week. Their lineup is set with Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew, the last two Indy Lights champions.  I expect expansion team type results from them next year.

Dragonspeed- The team is hoping to run 10 races next season, which may be optimistic. Ben Hanley is their main driver, although someone with money could drive in some races for them. The team is expanding their sports car program in both WEC and IMSA.

Honda Teams

Andretti Autosport- The armada returns with an expanded lineup. Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, and Zach Veach all return. They are joined by Colton Herta as Harding- Steinbrenner has been absorbed by Andretti.

Meyer-Shank – Jack Harvey hopes to run a full season in 2020. the team will have a technical alliance with Andretti.

Ganassi- The team has expanded to three full time entries. Scott Dixon and 2019 Rookie of the Year Felix Rosenqvist return. Marcus Ericsson will drive the third entry. Don’t look for a fourth car except maybe for the 500.

Coyne- Sebastien Bourdais stays in the 18. It appears the team is close to completing a deal with Santino Ferrucci to return to the 19. I don’t think the Hinchcliffe situation changes anything here.

Rahal- Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are set. Everyone’s attention is focused on the third car which doesn’t yet exist. Will it come into being for James Hinchcliffe? I’m not sure enough money can be put together by the parties concerned.

As of today there are 20 solid full time cars. The question marks are Carlin and Meyer-Shank. I’m not counting the 4 car at Foyt, either.

Cara Adams Promoted at Bridgestone/Firestone

Congratulations to Cara Adams. In a press release from Bridgestone, Adams is now  “…director, race tire engineering & production, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (BATO) and Firestone Racing. In this expanded leadership role, Adams will oversee the entire race tire production process – from product design and development through manufacturing and management – in support of the Firestone brand’s role as sole tire supplier of the NTT IndyCar® Series.”

Cara is one of the hardest working people in the paddock, but she always has time to answer a quick question.