Some Thoughts- Aeroscreen Testing and Short Track Bonuses

Some thoughts on a couple of items.

Three tests have been set for the the new Red Bull Technologies Aeroscreen.  The first one is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway October 2. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and Will Power of Team Penske will participate.

The next test is October 7 at Barber with Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport.

The October 9 test will be at Richmond, a track that returns to the schedule next year. Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden will drive.

The tests are loaded with veterans from the top three teams.  I assume it is a matter of resources. i don’t like that all three Penske drivers get to test. Why not spread the testing around.  Why not have a car from Rahal Letterman Lanigan? Why not have a younger driver to give perhaps a fresher outlook than the veterans might have?

I still have several concerns about the aeroscreen. I hope at the IMS test when I get more information I can have some of those concerns eased. My concerns involve tires, weight distribution, visibility in rain and during races when dirt and rubber build up on the screen,  and extraction of a driver after an accident. I assume the device will attach to to the front of the car in the same spot the AFP sits.

I’m still not a fan of the aesthetics of the aeroscreen. It may look better on the 2022 chassis since it will be an integrated part rather than the retrofit attachment we’ll see for the next two seasons.

Short Track Bonus?

Per Adam Stern, Indycar is working on a monetary bonus for a driver who wins multiple short track races next year. There would be  a bonus for winning two of the three races (Gateway, Iowa, Richmond) and a larger bonus for sweeping all three events. I like this idea. While it smacks of the Triple Crown that was attempted a few years ago for the three 500 mile races, a driver doesn’t have to sweep to get a reward.  Anything that gets drivers a bigger paycheck is a good idea.

Maybe this concept could be extended to the natural road courses and street courses as well. Prize money is a better idea than the road and oval championships that the series tried.  I’m glad bonus points aren’t involved. the points system as it stands has too many points to too many places as it is. For more about the points system, check George Phillips’ excellent piece from yesterday, at

I will be back tomorrow and Thursday as we prepare for the season finale. The Pit Window will have on site coverage from Weather Tech Raceway all weekend as well.

Zeb Wise takes the High Road to Victory in BC 39

Zeb Wise rode the top cushion to victory in the BC39 USAC midget race at IMS last night. He led 17 laps in the feature race. it was an emotional win for Wise and his team, Clauson-Marshall Racing,. The late Bryan Clauson’s father Tim had picked Wise to drive for the team after seeing him drive in the Batt;le of the Brickyard quarter midge race in 2014. . Clauson is the inspiration for this event. For his team to win it is a bonus.

It was a complete team victory for Clauson-Marshall Racing. Tyler Courtney finished second and Chris Windom was third.

Pole sitter Thomas Meseraull led the first 18 laps. the first of several halts to the action happened. Wise took the lead on the restart.  Wednesday’s stoops pursuit winner Kyle Larson charged into second, but could not quite get by Wise. The two chased each other on the high cushion for several laps.  They made contact in turn 2, then again in turn 4 when Wise bounced off the wall after getting too high  in the dirt. The contact cut Larson’s left rear tire. He was able to return to the race, but Larson was out of contention for the win. He finished ninth.

Last year’s BC39 winner Brady Bacon took the lead on lap 29. He later collided with teammate C. J. McDougall and both cars came to a stop on the front stretch.  Wise regained the lead on lap 32 and held it to the end.


My impressions as someone who doesn’t get to enough of these short dirt track shows:

These guys can race and race hard. I was impressed by the action both nights. I wish more of these drivers had Indycar aspirations.

The fans are just as, if not more passionate than fans of the major series. Last night I talked to a couple from Illinois who travel to follow the USAC races. They were very knowledgeable about the series and gave me some good information about some races I want to attend.

Kudos to Conor Daly for his improvement from night to night. conor admits he is still learning how to drive a midget. I though he held his own last night in the qualifying race. I wish more Indycar drivers would try this.

It was hardly a shock to see IMS President Doug Boles go to each car before the feature and shake hands with every driver.

Attendance again was great for this event.  With the NASCAR race moving to Jly 4 weekend in 2020, does this event move as well?  I’d prefer it stay where it is on the schedule.

back next week to catch up on some Indycar news that I am woefully behind on.

BC39: Larson Wins Stoops Pursuit; Feature Race Tonight

Kyle Larson won the Stoops Pursuit last night as the BC39 Drive to Save Lives opened its two day show at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The final 5 laps segment began with just three drivers, Larson, Michael Pickens, and Justin Grant. the race format eliminated drivers who lost positions  at the end of each  5 lap segment.

On the final lap of the last segment, Pickens flipped and Grant hit the wall and flipped. Larson drove to the checkered flag alone. Beither driver was injured.

Larson, who drives for Chip Ganassi racing in NASCAR, will also compete in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. He did not enter the BC 39 last year.

The evening featured great racing in the twelve heats which set the qualifying races for tonight’s event. Drivers received points for passing cars.  The format led to aggressive driving which didn’t always work out.  Brady bacon set the tone for the night in heat 1 with a pass just before the line for the win.

Heat winners:

  1. Brady Bacon
  2.  Kevin Thomas, Jr.
  3. Zeb Wise
  4. Dillon Welch
  5. Gio Scelzi
  6. Zach Daum
  7. Jake Neuman
  8. Chad Boat
  9. Spencer Bayson
  10. Thomas Meseraull

Today’s schedule:

3 pm Gates open

5 pm Hot laps (8 groups)

6 pm Qualifying races (8 races)

7:45 Main races (5 races)

9:30 BC 39 (39 laps)

Tickets $35-$75; no general admission

Some more photos of last night’s action

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BC39 Returns to IMS

The BC 39 returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tonight for the first of two evenings of midget racing. The event was a great success last year. 90 drivers, including Conor Daly, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., will compete.

Today’s schedule:

3 pm- Gates open

5pm – Hot laps- 12 groups

7:15- Heat races – 12 races , 10 laps each

Stoops Pursuit Race- 25 laps

Heat line-ups were set Tuesday night for tonight’s return of the BC39 midget race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Tonight’s heats will set the groups for tomorrow’s qualifying races. Drivers gain points for their finishing positions and for the number of positions gained during their heat.  For full details on tonight’s action, click this link to the IMS website.

Midgets and sprint cars used to be the roots of Indycar racing.  While most of these drivers gravitate to Nascar these days, it is still a fun time watching cars on dirt.

1958 – Foyt’s Rookie Year

Most people remember 1958 for just one thing- the first lap accident in which popular driver Pat O’Connor lost his life. An overlooked aspect of the 42nd Indianapolis 500 is that it is the first 500 in which both a Foyt and an Unser started the race. Both were rookies.  A. J. Foyt started 12th and Jerry Unser started started 24th.  Neither would finish the race. It would be five more years before the names Foyt and Unser again appeared in the same 500.

I purchased a 1958 program at the Legends Day memorabilia show this past May. It seems odd to say I was disappointed, but this was one of the few programs I have bought there that does not contain a starting lineup sheet or notes by the original owner. The program is in good condition with just some minor wear and tear. Nevertheless, I found it fascinating.

Two photos caught my attention. The first one below shows a young Bill Vukovich, Jr. talking with 1949 winner Bill Holland. Vukovich had to be in his mid teens at the time. The second photo below shows Tom Carnegie in an ad for Genatt Photo, a local photo store which filmed the 1958 500.


Raise your hand if you recall Tom Carnegie looking like this.

An ad in the program is for Casite, a product that looks similar to STP. It was produced by Hastings Manufacturing, which manufactured piston rings. Otehr companies no longer in business that bought ad space in 1958 were Eastern Airlines, Bear, which performed wheel balancing and alignment for the cars in the race; Stark & Wetzel, a local meat company; and L. Strauss & Company. Strauss presented a trophy to the winner of the race.




The program contains several feature articles written by local sportswriters. One is about the Speedway museum, which was celebrating its second year. One thing I had forgotten is that admission was free at that time. It wqas a small space with just a few cars and lots of photos and trophies. Besides the Borg-Warner Trophy, the Wheeler-Schebler trophy also had a place of honor.

Another story looks back on the 1928 race. It was the first of Louis Meyer’s three victories. Echoes of today’s racing world were evident even in 1928.  Meyer drove a car that wilbur Shaw had hoped to race. Shaw couldn’t get enough money to buy the. Alden Sampson put up the money to get Meyer the ride.  Shaw started on the last row. He qualified on race morning in a car Pete DePaolo had wrecked attempting to qualify.

The 1958 race got off to a horrific start. There was some confusion among the front row drivers, mainly between  pole sitter Dick Rathmann and second place starter Ed Elisian. each accused the other of starting the accident. From what I have read, Elisian tried to jump the start. Five of the six cars in the first two rows were out on the first lap. O’Connor was killed instantly when his rolled over. Three cars from the last three rows also became involved.  Unser went over the wall in what would be his only 500 appearance.

Jimmy Bryan, who started seventh, led 139 laps and won by 27 seconds over rookie George Amick.  Foyt finished 16th after spinning out on lap 148. he went on to have a decent career. Unser, out after the first lap melee, died of injuries suffered in a practice crash at the Speedway the following May.  The total purse for the race was a record at the time- $304,000. Bryan won a third of the total.



Hybrids, Rumors, Trophies on Vacation

Just a few notes and comments today:

Reaction has been mixed, to put it mildly, about the new hybrid technology coming to Indycar in 2022. I still think it’s a good thing for the series. Eventually every racing series will employ some form of hybrid technology. From what I’ve seen, the Indycar version will not be full blown electricity. The engines will still be loud, and, I hope, faster. I’m hoping that the use of the KERS system for push to pass limits the ability of the lead driver to defend. I would rather have drivers pass on pure speed and ability. Those days may be gone for the most part.

We won’t know for several months what the new system will look like or what it will do on the cars. Let’s just wait and see what happens. If it opens the door to a third OEM, or even better, a second chassis, I’m all for it. As Paul Dalbey pointed out yesterday in his post on The Field of 33,  first year costs  may affect car counts, especially at the Indianapolis 500. You can read his post at

The McLaren Puzzle

If you thought Silly season ended with Alexander Rossi and Honda staying with Andretti Autosport, think again. The latest talk is that McLaren is looking to join Arrow Schmidt Peterson. My understanding is that the team would switch to Chevy. This deal would not add cars to the grid. There are questions that make this deal iffy. ASPM has another year on its contract with Honda.  James Hinchcliffe’s contract runs through the end of 2020.  If Hinchcliffe drives a Chevy, he also loses the Honda commercials.

We know contracts can be bought out. As we’ve seen recently with drivers, contracts aren’t ironclad. Gabby Chaves and Pato O’Ward are two recent examples. There are lots of things in play here. Pop some popcorn, sit back and watch.

My opinion is that McLaren is cutting corners trying to enter Indycar. Rather than establishing a team through a technical alliance with another team, they are trying to buy a team instead. It seems the lessons of May have not gotten through to them. If they do become part of Schmidt organization, I hope they are willing to listen to the people there who know what they are doing this time.

There is also talk of Marcus Ericsson moving to Carlin and Felipe Nasr, who recently tested with ASPM replacing him. Nasr is a former F1 driver who is doing very well driving for Action Express in IMSA.

Pagenaud Reveals His Borg Warner Likeness…in France?

It appears another Indianapolis 500 tradition has gone by the wayside. In the past, the new 500 winner’s face on the Borg Warner trophy was unveiled at an early December ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Yesterday Simon Pagenaud’s image on the trophy was revealed in Paris.  I hope this is a one time occurrence.

The December event brought some attention to the race and the series in what is a slow news period for the NTT Indycar Series and the Speedway. I wonder if IMS is still planning something for December. The unveiling was the night before the PRI show opens at the Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. It was a nice lead-in to the show.


I’ll be back in a couple days to look at the 1958 Indianapolis 500 program.

SVRA Weekend Finale: Miller Wins TA2

Photo: Marc Miller drove the Dodge Challenger to a flag to flag win in Sunday’s TA2 race.

Marc Miller narrowly won the pole for Sunday’s Trans Am 2 race which ended the SVRA weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  He left nothing to chance during the race, however, leading all 42 laps in an easy victory. Early in the race he was gaining a second per lap on second place.

Rafa Matos started second, but he didn’t hold the spot long. Third place starter Scott Lagasse, Jr. passed him  in turn 1. Matos seemed to slow more each lap and dropped quickly through the field. He retired after completing just 10 laps. Dillon Machavern got by Lagasse for second and went on to finish as runner up. Lagasse also dropped out of the race after 22 laps.

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The start of the Trans Am race. Rafa Matos (first yellow car) has already dropped from the front row of the grid.

A Weekend Full of Racing

For someone who just like to watch race cars of any kind, an SVRA weekend is perfect. There are three days of nonstop action with practices, qualifying , and races. There are very short breaks between each track session. Their next event is next weekend at Mid Ohio. It’s a great value for people who can’t get to or afford a weekend at a major racing event.

Formula Ford Reunion Brings Back the Nostalgia

The tiny cars with tiny engines really struck a chord with me. While all the cars ran 1.6 liter engines, there were ten (10!) different chassis on the grid. It took me back to my earliest 500s (not 1911) when there were several different types of chassis, each with a distinct look. Sigh. I talked to a couple of the drivers before the race. They are passionate about racing and love what they are doing to preserve the sport. This is a hobby for them, but I think many of them would trade their regular jobs to race full time in a heartbeat.

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Jeremy Treadway won the second Formula Ford race Sunday in a 1981 Van Diemen

A few of the other chassis:

Left: 1972 Crossle25; Top Right : 1980 PRS RHO1  Bottom Right: 1970 Titan

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1969 Winkelman WDF 1

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The 1.6 liter powerplant


I’ll be back this week with more on the proposed Indycar engine plan for 2022 and some news and rumors. Might throw in an old program as well.  Thanks for following along this week.