A MONTH OF MAYBE’S AT THE 2016 INDIANAPOLIS 500 SPEEDWAY

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Anyone else besides me feel really empty after this weekends qualifying? The month of May, feels more like day’s on end, of what in the world is going to happen next? And the preparation for the 100th running next year! The whole season so far for that matter besides the Alabama race has left me wanting more, and asking why in most cases. And this weeks qualifying was no different. I dislike how things have been handled starting with the cancellation of the Brasil race, aero-kits with too much down-force, and the Aero-Misfits that took place at St Pete, and the barrage of yellow’s the kit’s have caused, with the help of over jealous driver’s!

Millions and millions of dollars have been spent by manufacturers and the teams, and I don’t see that it has put one more person in the stands, which was clear by today’s qualifying attendance. Neither have the new Aero-Kits helped to boost TV rating’s as of yet, for our first five races. Honda has already come out and said “We would rather had put our money into IndyCar advertising, than these aero-kits.” If anything those Honda fan’s have already thrown-up their hands, while pinning most of their hopes on what Honda would have in store for them at the first oval of the 2016 season. We have seen road and street course records broken by small margin’s.  Even this weekend if we had given the car’s the extra 40- horsepower, and not messed with the down-force, old records would have stood until at least 2016. By the way, it is the 21st century so all records in this century are new records if you want to get technical.

You have to ask the question, Why in the world did IndyCar decide to start the season off with 6 road and street course races? Wouldn’t it have made sense to try to fit some ovals into the schedule prior to the 500? How about, at the least take a week to do some testing in between the Long Beach Grand Prix and the 500? I’ll ask this question and you decide, but I have made my decision.  Did reducing the boost on Sunday and adding down-force, really make a difference in the grand scheme of things? The answer is no! No offense, but did anyone think to test these cars in the wind-tunnel going backwards? Did anyone think that changing the back bumpers, diffusers, or whatever you want to call them might cause more lift, when added to an already elongated and  bulbous back-end of an IndyCar? Maybe these back-ends have become more of the problem, than the answer for IndyCar?

Let’s say for a moment that they did test the cars going backwards and found the cars liked to get airborne when facing the wrong direction. Then why in heaven’s name didn’t they make some kind of flap (full operational air deflector), to hold the back ends to the ground, when the car sensed it was about to take flight? I’m no engineer, but something like an airliner’s air brakes could have been put on these cars, with each car having a sensor that deploys  when it senses a car is leaving the tarmac. The bottom line is this: when you spin an IndyCar backwards, or hit a wall at 221-226 or 231 mph the results are pretty much the same. An IndyCar traveling at roughly 221 mph, is covering approx 324 feet per second ( A little over an American football field).   For every 5 mph over that speed they are traveling an extra 7.5 ft. per sec. or 2.5 yards.  The reality is IndyCar pretty much did what they did to give the perception of making drivers and fans feel safe.

(I am in no way saying the people of Indycar, and the IMS genuinely don’t care. It’s just they are limited to what could be done in such a small time frame) Please note: I am not privy to any information when it comes to either Honda, or Chevy having tested the aero-kits going backwards and getting airborne in wind-tunnel testing. I  can only assume that with 3 car’s having taken flight, means Chevy had not taken that test into consideration.

Chevy has already been made to get rid of the carbon fiber lollipops that littered the tracks, and both engine manufacturers were told that down-force was going to have to be reduced prior to the season beginning. IndyCar knowing full well that the car’s components wouldn’t be able to handle the added stress, and now all this in our beloved month of May.  It begs to question, what else have these 2 manufacturers forgotten about before the start of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500? I have to wonder, has anyone taken into consideration the effect of turbulence coming off the back ends of these cars? Sunday is sure the wrong time to get our answer, but with 33 cars going 2 and 3 wide into the turns, it may not take more than lap one to find out!

While I am at it, I would like to bring up that although for the most part we all hate seeing change at these hallowed grounds, change is in the air and for the most part it is a good thing! Having said that, I would like to think it is about time  IMS takes part of that 30 million dollars being used for renovations, and uses it to widen the track in some areas, and changing the wall height. More importantly, change each of the four turns on the oval banked at 9 degrees 12 minutes, the same dimensions as when the track opened in 1909. We want to see speed records broken, yet were unwilling to see track changes made. The bottom line: something has to give, and regardless if you think it will help the NASCAR series, the end result is it will help us obtain our speed goals, while adding safety to the track for our drivers.

Sunday’s decision kind of takes me back to that Formula One race held at IMS, when more than two-thirds of the field quit in protest over tire safety. When an agreement couldn’t be reached over the use of fresh tires or the placement of a chicane to slow the cars going into turn 13, the Michelin teams pulled off the track and parked in a unified protest. Is this maybe what needs to be done by our drivers? If the IndyCar teams and drivers had a Union, you would quite possibly see a picket line out front 16th street and Georgetown Rd. this morning.

Maybe the better decision in light of all that has gone wrong, and in fairness to Honda, would have just been to let teams configure their cars back to the 2014 body prior to qualifying any cars on Sunday! IndyCar knew something was up way before Sunday, and for the safety of all the drivers, wouldn’t this have made better sense? I mean I have never heard of having to qualify your car in the same race trim you will be using on race day! We all know the reality is, that even in the best of conditions at the speedway, no driver is 100% safe unless you just cancel the Indy 500 altogether.  And we all know that will never happen. Don’t we?

Tony Tellez

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