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Thread: Vanity-question regarding low HP, high downforce formula...

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    Vanity-question regarding low HP, high downforce formula...

    What was the *point* of the same low hp, high downforce formula for so many years? I'm sure the obvious answer is 'cost containment' but if so many people knew pack racing made ovals more dangerous than necessary, why then stick with it? Was it that difficult to add HP or make simple changes to aerodynamics? What am i missing here?

  2. #2
    There are other that are more qualified to answer this question than me, but I believe the the goal was to slow the cars down (more drag, less HP). At the same time they were trying to make them more stable in the turns at Indy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdkief View Post
    There are other that are more qualified to answer this question than me, but I believe the the goal was to slow the cars down (more drag, less HP). At the same time they were trying to make them more stable in the turns at Indy.
    Ok, thanks for reminding me. I'd forgotten that aspect.

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    Other than a few years, say 1997-2002, the IRL cars were no lower horse power or higher downforce than any other cars from 1980 till now. The 1997-2002 CART cars led to the end of CART, although everyone agreed they should be slowed down, no one could agree how. The IRL Indycars were most like 92-94 CART cars. In 2003 the cars were virtually identical.

    CART used the Handford to slow down the cars, Champcar used RC wings, the most overstuck Speedway cars ever, couldn't exceed 207 MPH, Indycar used minimum wing angle on some high banked tracks.



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    Scary Stalker Team Canada's Avatar
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    I know I'll get crucified for this, but, it was to make the cars easier to drive. The talent pool really wasn't there before the CART guys came over.

    Who did Montoya say could drive the cars in 2000?

    It was to reduce the costs of engines. If they were HP reduced, they would be more reliable, thus saving $$ for the engine companies and passing the savings to the teams.

    It was to make the cars more equal to create more excitement having the pack racing.

  6. #6
    IRL's calling card for the longest time was "side by side" pack racing on 1.5 mile ovals.
    To accomplish this, it found a formula (low hp and high downforce) that produced such racing.

    Even when oval racing somehow found a way to have separation (Richmond from few years ago) , most posters on TF immediately called it boring and demanded a change to go back to "side by side" pack racing.

    There was a small minority of people that felt this type of racing was too dangerous. They said the big one was just a matter of time.
    But most of these concerns were either ignored or considered part of racing.

    Even fewer people here complained that cars running in a pack, unable to pass or get passed, was not a real racing.
    These folks were labeled chump car supporters and ignored.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoop-98 View Post
    Other than a few years, say 1997-2002, the IRL cars were no lower horse power or higher downforce than any other cars from 1980 till now. The 1997-2002 CART cars led to the end of CART, although everyone agreed they should be slowed down, no one could agree how. The IRL Indycars were most like 92-94 CART cars. In 2003 the cars were virtually identical.

    CART used the Handford to slow down the cars, Champcar used RC wings, the most overstuck Speedway cars ever, couldn't exceed 207 MPH, Indycar used minimum wing angle on some high banked tracks.



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    Quote Originally Posted by debris on the track View Post
    What was the *point* of the same low hp, high downforce formula for so many years? I'm sure the obvious answer is 'cost containment' but if so many people knew pack racing made ovals more dangerous than necessary, why then stick with it? Was it that difficult to add HP or make simple changes to aerodynamics? What am i missing here?
    Adding HP just would have just made the cars faster. When the aero package seperated the cars on the 1.5s like in early 2009, it seemed the series ended up with boring races where drivers couldn't get close to the cars in front of them to make a pass, to the point where it was extremly difficult even to lap several MPH slower backmarker.

    It seems to me the reason why they stuck with the "pack" formula is A) its considered by many to be exciting, and B) most of the ovals that are available to the series currently are high banked

    The whole problem with the high bank ovals in my opinion is that because of the 100% throttle nature, its not exciting unless there is a "pack", which is incredibly dangerous. After they changed the aero rules in 2009, and there was an insane pack race after the final restart at Chicagoland, I made a post stating this idea, that if you were going to race on the 1.5s, it might as well be a pack race to be exciting, but its incredibly dangerous at the same time, and not pure racing because of the foot the floor aspect. After some of the "boring" races earlier that year, I remember Cleanupcrew defending the aero rules that created the seperation, and many argued with him saying it was boring.

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    There's a happy medium somewhere...
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  10. #10
    As stated above they, the irl, stumbled upon a formula which, created close tv friendly racing, created cars that were easier to drive (didn't say easy), and lowered cost at the same time....win win win, as far as they were concerned. There are a lot of artificial racing aids now, push to pass, drs system, restictor plate, but the formula favored by the irl and now Indy really made it much more dangerous at the same time as creating more "excitement". And they paid for it, or rather Dan Wheldon paid for it.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Team Canada View Post
    I know I'll get crucified for this, but, it was to make the cars easier to drive. The talent pool really wasn't there before the CART guys came over.

    Who did Montoya say could drive the cars in 2000?

    It was to reduce the costs of engines. If they were HP reduced, they would be more reliable, thus saving $$ for the engine companies and passing the savings to the teams.

    It was to make the cars more equal to create more excitement having the pack racing.
    That, and the lower HP also would result in less engine failures.

  12. #12
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    Mostly it was keeping costs low to keep enough teams in the field. No doubt they would have been more than happy to have teams develop their chassis, innovate and make changes, that would have spread out the packs on every track. Or they might have introduced a new formula sometime after 2003. But there just wasn't enough money in the sport to be doing any of that. There were the years of being lucky to have 19 cars in a race, the continued use of the same chassis allowed having 28 cars at the season ending race at Chicago a few times, it allowed the underfunded teams to pick up used chassis while the top teams who could afford them bought a new one. It was a necessity of the time.
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  13. #13
    Low HP and high downforce really got off when IRL got CART drivers and teams starting with 2003 and in some stances in 2002. CART had fewer ovals and drivers weren't trained to race regulary on ovals and especially on 1.5 mile high banked ovals. It was a safety need.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by raskav View Post
    Even when oval racing somehow found a way to have separation (Richmond from few years ago) , most posters on TF immediately called it boring and demanded a change to go back to "side by side" pack racing.
    I'm not sure everyone wanted side by side as much as the opportunity for passing to take place. Texas and Richmond that year were dreadful. The cars had no ability to get on each other's gearbox without dirty air pushing them up into the marbles & subsequently the wall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serone View Post
    Low HP and high downforce really got off when IRL got CART drivers and teams starting with 2003 and in some stances in 2002. CART had fewer ovals and drivers weren't trained to race regulary on ovals and especially on 1.5 mile high banked ovals. It was a safety need.
    Where are you getting this from? I don't recall that being a reason at the time. Besides the first CART drivers to come over in those early days were typically very capable drivers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serone View Post
    Low HP and high downforce really got off when IRL got CART drivers and teams starting with 2003 and in some stances in 2002. CART had fewer ovals and drivers weren't trained to race regulary on ovals and especially on 1.5 mile high banked ovals. It was a safety need.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stick500 View Post
    Where are you getting this from? I don't recall that being a reason at the time. Besides the first CART drivers to come over in those early days were typically very capable drivers.

    Where's he getting it from? Pretty sure, like most of his posts, he's pulling it out of the gaping orifice located three feet due south of his head. I'll leave you to figure out the anatomy.

    Franchitti. Dixon. Kanaan. Castroneves. de Ferran. Andretti. Those are the drivers that supposedly the series needed to slow the cars down for. That list includes a 2-time defending 500 champ, a 40-time race winner in CART, three eventual series champs, and a guy who turned the fastest lap in AOWR history. Yeah, they REALLY needed to slow the cars down for those guys.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Stick500 View Post
    Where are you getting this from? I don't recall that being a reason at the time. Besides the first CART drivers to come over in those early days were typically very capable drivers.
    Capable or not, they wanted to reduce danger on 1.5 mile high banked tracks. I don't think that drivers like Dario, Kanaan, De Ferran really wanted to participate in such carnage races like Atlanta 2001 or Texas I 2001. Probably Penske and Ganassi demanded IRL to reduce the risk. Besides everyone knew how much blocking was allowed in CART and road racing.
    Just my thoughts.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by slkornya View Post
    Franchitti. Dixon. Kanaan. Castroneves. de Ferran. Andretti. Those are the drivers that supposedly the series needed to slow the cars down for. That list includes a 2-time defending 500 champ, a 40-time race winner in CART, three eventual series champs, and a guy who turned the fastest lap in AOWR history. Yeah, they REALLY needed to slow the cars down for those guys.
    It would sound crazy, but thats right. And it worked for the richest teams. Didn't it?

    Don't forget Gil and Andretti had a bad accident at Phoenix. Both in 2003 said "No thanks, we better retire".

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    Am I surrounded by children in here? Does no one have a memory?

    High-downforce, drag-limited racing has been part of the Indy racing formula since 1997. One of the big changes in going to the IRL spec in 1997 was a reduction in undertray downforce and an increase in wing-generated downforce. Because wing-generated DF causes more drag, they were looking for a car that created greater drag at the same speed and downforce levels of the previous cars. But, the reduction in hp that came with the original 3.5L NA engines relative to the 2.65L turbos of the cart era resulted in lower top speeds (less HP pushing greater drag leads to slower speeds).

    Even with those reductions, it was quickly clear that the cars were going to go too fast to be prudent on the high-banked 1.5 mile tracks. So, the IRL mandated minimum wing angles - not for the downforce but for the greater drag. Instead of putting an upright billboard under a short-cord wing like cart did to slow the cars, IRL put a longer cord wing at an inefficient angle to slow the top speed of the cars. They both accomplished the same thing - limiting top speed through increased drag.

    In the early days of the IRL, even into the early Penske/Ganassi movement phase, there were two chassis with different characteristics and two types of engines that were constructed by many more than that engine builders to different team specs. This led to a variety of car capabilities - budget teams asked for bulletproof builds while top teams pushed the envelope more. Thus, there was close racing without the pack racing. The first Charlotte race was as entertaining as any race I have ever attended - cars were spread all over the track, but the lead 3 cars were close to each other and we had what your really want from an oval race - the leaders racing each other through lapped traffic. Really fun, good, oval racing.

    It wasn't until Panoz/G-Force left the series and then Chevy and Toyota left the series leaving everything essentially spec - teams' budgets didn't even dictate that there be differences in engine capability - that the real pack racing problem developed. It led to boring racing with close, artificially exciting finishes. Because cars couldn't race to an advantage, fuel strategy and pit work became the only way to differentiate during the race - again, boring.

    Good oval racing depends on there being different classes of cars - there must be slow cars to create changing racing environments around the track as the leaders race. Case in point - it is the inability of the leaders to catch the tail of the field and really race through traffic that has made the BY400 so boring lately.

    In the end, we know the cars can't run at an unlimited speed on these oval - drivers get hurt, spectators get hurt, and the show is bad. We have been fighting the same problem since Chip Ganassi got hurt at Michigan, since Greg Moore was killed at California, since both series killed spectators at Charlotte and Michigan, and now with Wheldon at LV.

    My take, the racing was better in the IRL before the Great Toyota Compromise. I understand politically why the leadership thought it was necessary, but I have not been the same type of fan of the series since that time.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Joe View Post
    High-downforce, drag-limited racing has been part of the Indy racing formula since 1997.
    What else limits the top speed if not drag?

    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Joe View Post
    One of the big changes in going to the IRL spec in 1997 was a reduction in undertray downforce and an increase in wing-generated downforce.
    At this point I see no changes in downforce.

    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Joe View Post
    Because wing-generated DF causes more drag, they were looking for a car that created greater drag at the same speed and downforce levels of the previous cars.
    In other words IRL had a car with more parasitic drag, because undertray of the car didn't produce as much downforce as did CART car. So to have the same speed and same downforce level, IRL car should have had more power. Which it didn't have and thatswhy was slower.

    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Joe View Post
    But, the reduction in hp that came with the original 3.5L NA engines relative to the 2.65L turbos of the cart era resulted in lower top speeds (less HP pushing greater drag leads to slower speeds).
    Less HP pushing greater drag leads to slower speeds .... and less downforce.
    Downforce is the function of speed. The faster you go the more pressure is created by moving air.

    So which car had more downforce?
    CART cars at their top speed or IRL cars at their top speed?

    I say CART car.
    The ground effect car is nothing more than a wing shaped body - a big wing with a cockpit and wheels.

    So the discussion is not about the amounts of downforce, but how it is generated and the amount of parasitic drag.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Somberlain56 View Post
    I'm not sure everyone wanted side by side as much as the opportunity for passing to take place. Texas and Richmond that year were dreadful. The cars had no ability to get on each other's gearbox without dirty air pushing them up into the marbles & subsequently the wall.
    Yeah, anybody saying it was simply because they weren't packed up that people complained is selling something. Dario and TK both apologized after the Richmond race. When the leaders couldn't pass cars that were several laps down, you knew something truly weird was going on.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by FTHurley View Post
    Yeah, anybody saying it was simply because they weren't packed up that people complained is selling something. Dario and TK both apologized after the Richmond race. When the leaders couldn't pass cars that were several laps down, you knew something truly weird was going on.
    This is why any solution isn't easy including "900+ HP, less downforce".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Joe View Post
    Am I surrounded by children in here? Does no one have a memory?

    High-downforce, drag-limited racing has been part of the Indy racing formula since 1997. One of the big changes in going to the IRL spec in 1997 was a reduction in undertray downforce and an increase in wing-generated downforce. Because wing-generated DF causes more drag, they were looking for a car that created greater drag at the same speed and downforce levels of the previous cars. But, the reduction in hp that came with the original 3.5L NA engines relative to the 2.65L turbos of the cart era resulted in lower top speeds (less HP pushing greater drag leads to slower speeds).

    Even with those reductions, it was quickly clear that the cars were going to go too fast to be prudent on the high-banked 1.5 mile tracks. So, the IRL mandated minimum wing angles - not for the downforce but for the greater drag. Instead of putting an upright billboard under a short-cord wing like cart did to slow the cars, IRL put a longer cord wing at an inefficient angle to slow the top speed of the cars. They both accomplished the same thing - limiting top speed through increased drag.

    In the early days of the IRL, even into the early Penske/Ganassi movement phase, there were two chassis with different characteristics and two types of engines that were constructed by many more than that engine builders to different team specs. This led to a variety of car capabilities - budget teams asked for bulletproof builds while top teams pushed the envelope more. Thus, there was close racing without the pack racing. The first Charlotte race was as entertaining as any race I have ever attended - cars were spread all over the track, but the lead 3 cars were close to each other and we had what your really want from an oval race - the leaders racing each other through lapped traffic. Really fun, good, oval racing.

    It wasn't until Panoz/G-Force left the series and then Chevy and Toyota left the series leaving everything essentially spec - teams' budgets didn't even dictate that there be differences in engine capability - that the real pack racing problem developed. It led to boring racing with close, artificially exciting finishes. Because cars couldn't race to an advantage, fuel strategy and pit work became the only way to differentiate during the race - again, boring.

    Good oval racing depends on there being different classes of cars - there must be slow cars to create changing racing environments around the track as the leaders race. Case in point - it is the inability of the leaders to catch the tail of the field and really race through traffic that has made the BY400 so boring lately.

    In the end, we know the cars can't run at an unlimited speed on these oval - drivers get hurt, spectators get hurt, and the show is bad. We have been fighting the same problem since Chip Ganassi got hurt at Michigan, since Greg Moore was killed at California, since both series killed spectators at Charlotte and Michigan, and now with Wheldon at LV.

    My take, the racing was better in the IRL before the Great Toyota Compromise. I understand politically why the leadership thought it was necessary, but I have not been the same type of fan of the series since that time.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Serone View Post
    Capable or not, they wanted to reduce danger on 1.5 mile high banked tracks. I don't think that drivers like Dario, Kanaan, De Ferran really wanted to participate in such carnage races like Atlanta 2001 or Texas I 2001. Probably Penske and Ganassi demanded IRL to reduce the risk. Besides everyone knew how much blocking was allowed in CART and road racing.
    Just my thoughts.
    The problem with your original post was that you presented it as fact that the IRL dumbed down the formula because the CART guys were a perceived safety hazard. At least this time you included "Just my thoughts". You can't just throw out baseless opinions and conclusions without any sort of corroborating evidence. If you're going to do it, you need a disclaimer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FTHurley View Post
    He's just that good, isn't he?
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    Quote Originally Posted by doitagain View Post
    He's just that good, isn't he?
    I do agree with the last paragraph.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Joe View Post
    My take, the racing was better in the IRL before the Great Toyota Compromise. I understand politically why the leadership thought it was necessary, but I have not been the same type of fan of the series since that time.
    For those of us who were in college back then and not paying as much attention to racing, what was the Great Toyota Compromise?

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by FTHurley View Post
    For those of us who were in college back then and not paying as much attention to racing, what was the Great Toyota Compromise?
    In the early days of the IRL, the rules stated that engine manufacturers were just parts suppliers - that engine construction was to be done by independent engine shops that could use the specified parts or that could substitute parts as they saw fit. Teams were supposed to be owners of the engines (although independent engine builders could lease engines as they saw fit). There were not supposed to be any "works" teams that had complete manufacturer support. This was in part a response to the problems in the late cart era where some teams got updated chassis first (see Newman-Haas and Lola, which Carl Haas was the distributor for and the different versions of the Ford engine - XB vs XC at Indy in 1995 I believe).

    While Nissan/Infiniti never drew wide participation and were almost all built by Ed Pink racing as the development shop (although Herb Porter of Speedway Engines helped them sort out a bottom-end oiling product in the 1997 Infniti motor). The GM/Olds engine was built in multiple versions by several shops including Speedway Engines, Katech, and Menard along with others. Plus, Katech built both base engines for lower-budget teams and engines with team-specific specs (like Foyt's). So, there was quite a bit of engine diversity in the early IRL period. As teams started developing more exotic motors (very light crank qualifying motors for example), the IRL stepped in and specified more details like a spec crank to try to keep costs lower.

    But, this was also the time when the budgets of teams were stretched and the Speedway was probably providing lots of financial support to keep smaller teams on the track. We were already hearing of stress within the family over finances at that time.

    Toyota, Honda, and Ford were the engine mainstays of the remaining champcar series, and it was thought that the money from those manufacturers was what was mainly keeping champcar afloat. My opinion is that TG thought that if he could pull the manufacturers out from under cart, it would quickly collapse and relieve the competitive pressure on IRL finances. Both Honda and Toyota resisted the open rules of the IRL. Their concern was that they didn't want their corporate reputation based on the actions of independent engine builders. IIRC, Honda refused to participate under those rules and Toyota blatantly said that they would find a way to provide works support through the back door (which the IRL knew it couldn't police). So, for 2003 TG gave on the rules to allow corporate leases of engines. At that point, the nature of the IRL changed. Nissan withdrew, and GM stayed to compete with Toyota and Honda.

    Early there were still three manufacturers and some variability. But, Chevy was running into financial problems and felt NASCAR was the better investment, the Toyota, too, left for NASCAR leaving Honda as the single engine supplier. Around the same time, so few teams were using the G-Force chassis that they, too, withdrew from the series. From that time, we have had spec racing. Honda prepared all the engines equally and everyone was using the same chassis with the only differences being some minor aerodynamic bits.

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