The RACER mail, June 22


Welcome to RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of the RACER writers can be sent to [email protected] Due to the high volume of questions received, we cannot guarantee that all letters will be published, but we will respond to as many as we can. Posted questions can be edited for length and clarity. Questions received after 3:00 pm ET each Monday will appear the following week.

*Note: We had to move up the deadline for questions this week, but any submissions that didn’t make the cut are in the pool for next week’s mailbag – Ed.

Q: Any chance of bringing back the LED position indicator panels? I found this very useful when I was on a run and didn’t have access to TV coverage. And speaking of LED, do you remember one of the old CART teams (Newman/Haas, I think) had LED advertising inside the car’s rims? I try to tell people about this and they look at me like I’m crazy.


Buffalo Bills (and IndyCar) fan

MARSHALL PRUETT: I asked IndyCar president Jay Frye about this, and he said it’s something they’ll consider with the new car. IndyCar really liked the panels, but the switch to a smaller, more feature-rich second-generation model proved to be a constant problem. I’d love to see the series bid on something new and different: how about a full OLED panel that displays the car’s position, posts announcements and displays team-selected tweets during the race?

Q: I realize that Devlin DeFrancesco is a rookie in IndyCar and that rookies make mistakes. That said, he has made some enemies, including Will Power, who wants IndyCar to park him for a while. We’re used to Power sounding bad, but do you think he’s right in his assessment of him? How does the rest of the paddock feel about DeFrancesco? While I take the forum posts with a grain of salt, there seem to be a lot of people who think that both he and Dalton Kellett shouldn’t be in the series. I don’t think he’s being too fair to Kellett, but he has a lot of off-track incidents with a car.

David Colquitt

MP: Will Power had every right to be angry. Devlin’s nerf from behind wasn’t clever at best. Power had a terrible moment in qualifying and was buried at the back of the pack, and this exact scenario – getting hit by drivers the (now former) championship leader rarely encounters – was the big concern. He would say that if this were DeFrancesco’s first big mistake of the year, Power would be just as angry, but he wouldn’t venture beyond that anger, no threat of retaliation, etc. The fact that Devlin’s Texas bug was sitting there on the plate for Power to swing and knock him out of the park is where convicting him came easy.

As for people saying Devlin and Dalton don’t belong, it’s nothing new. The same thing has been said for decades in all forms of racing. It’s the laziest take to do. Every sport has its highest achievements and its lowest achievements; the common thread is that they are all in the top one percent in the world in their profession. There is always going to be someone, or a small group, who frequently run last, and the fans catch them. Meh.

Two other things are forgotten. The first is how the money brought in by the DeFrancescos, Kelletts, Latifis, Strolls, etc., is what gets or keeps teams on track and employs tens to hundreds of people. The second is that if a team had the budget to hire a better driver, they would, but in most of these cases, it’s a situation where the team needs the money and whoever’s in the car is the best option they can get. might find. But those are nuanced things, and nuance is rarely involved in “don’t belong here” comments.

Better the Devlin you know than the Devlin you don’t know. Images by Michael Levitt/Motorsport

Q: Will Power, speaking of Devlin being parked, needs to take a hard look at himself. He took down his teammate in Nashville, and many other times he took out other running backs with stupid moves. Iowa 2011 in the pit lane comes to mind.

Mark, Pasadena, CA

MP: Thanks, but none of those past cases matter or relate to what’s happening in 2022. I never understood the “You hit people before, so you shouldn’t complain about getting hit” line of thought. I rear-ended someone at a traffic light many moons ago in my old 250,000 mile Volvo From Hell, so if I understand this correctly, if someone rear-ends me today, I’m supposed to sit there with no anger and nothing to say because a Was I ever rear-ended by a car? Who the hell would hold themselves to that unrealistic standard? And if none of us would behave that way, why would we expect racing drivers to be any different?

In the context of a rookie facing off against a veteran at Road America and veterans (plural) in Texas, it’s not exactly a surprise to hear Power drop the hammer on Devlin. The hope would be that DeFrancesco took the heat and thought more about his career craft and went the rest of the year without earning a third strike.

Q: While browsing vintage Indy cars online during a break in business, I came across the BLAT Eagle again, Dan Gurney’s 1980-81 Eagle. I knew about this Eagle, but could never figure out how it stayed on the ground, because it had no wing or just a small rear spoiler, and no side skirts. It was quite different for its time. Nothing like the F1 Lotus 78 or the Penske “Yellow Submarine”.

So I started delving into the BLAT (Boundary Layer Adhesion Technology) theory and found it quite mysterious, until a blogger I read mentioned that the Eagle was similar to current F1 cars in that air entered through two small areas behind the front tires and near the bodywork, and then ran through two tunnels under the chassis, around the driver’s compartment and engine compartment, to exit under a very large diffuser. These channels became larger as they ran from the middle of the chassis to the rear of the car.

Was Dan Gurney ahead of his time? Is this what current F1 cars are using?

Sean Raymundo

MP: If we give them credit, it goes to Lotus and the 1978 chassis 79 (also, the yellow submarine was a product of Chaparral Racing, not Penske) for using the sides and rear of an open-wheel car to generate a Incredible downforce with large, long airfoils built into the sidepods. The 1981 All American Racers Eagle Indy car chassis took the ground effects concept of the Lotus 79 in a completely different direction, but it was the same general principle of using the sides and rear of the car to generate high downforce. .

Where BLAT made progress was in eliminating most of the sidepods, creating a smaller, narrower shape to cut through the air, as Dan and John Ward, the car’s designer, sought to exploit the lower cost/lower weight option. in the rules. for stock-block non-turbocharged V8 engines.

The best thing to know about Eagle and its BLAT innovation is that it was all due to a huge lack of budget. AAR had no real sponsors at the time, couldn’t afford the standard-configuration Cosworth DFX turbo V8s, and had to go to the alternate formula where overcoming a lack of power through a radical chassis approach was a must. That’s why we have this arrow-shaped car that stood out visually and in its performances. Today’s F1 cars are direct descendants of the Lotus 79, not the Eagle.