Friday, February 24, 2012

Favorite Engines of Indy - Part 2

Today we go back in time a bit when motors weren't specified by the sanctioning body, yet one was so dominant there was nearly no competition with it for decades.

When power was king and reliability his queen, the racing countryside was ruled by the 'house of Offenhauser'. From the mid-1930s through the 1970s, the nearly bulletproof Offy dominated the American midget and sprint car scenes and also won the Indianapolis 500 27 times; 1935, '37, '41, '47-'64, '68, '72-76. It remains to this day the all-time leader in wins at Indy.

Its design lineage is traced back through the early 1920s in motors (and chassis) produced by Harry Miller, also famous for his wins at Indy. Miller's cars and/or engines won 12 times in Indianapolis; 1922-'23, '26, '28-34, '36, '38, Miller's design was based on a successful Peugeot motor design that won Indy back in 1913, '16, and '19. Personal bankruptcy forced Miller to sell his assets and Fred Offenhauser (Miller's 'understudy') bought the rights and continued to develop the motor with the help of shop designer and draftsman Leo Goosen.

Now with the tangible bits of its racing heritage fading, I thought it would be great to hear that sound again. That wonderfully majestic rumble and deep staccato of the four (yes, just four massive) cylinders of over 1 liter in displacement EACH and double-overhead cams that frighten with noise, leaving no doubt as to the power that lies within. Ever-popular with gearheads and collectors to this day, many still exist and are refurbished to working (racing) condition from midgets to collectible race cars that parade at festivals such as Goodwood.

Here's a video which reproduces the signature engine sound quite well, but honestly, nothing beats hearing them (and smelling them) burn methanol in person. For extra fun, put on some quality headphones, turn the volume up, and enjoy a trip back to the Kingdom of Offenhauser...

Here's a nice bit of history I found on the interwebnettubes: an audio recording (with slide show of 60s-era cars) of the start and first laps of the 1963 race. If you must (he said begrudgingly) skip the golden voice of Tom Carnegie, Tony Hulman's Command, and the parade laps, then go to the 6:50 moment to hear the field of 33 (26 Offys, 3 Novis, 2 Fords, 2 Chevys) coming at you in full song which certainly tell a race fan they were in the right place...

Currently the rights the Offenhauser legacy and many Offy rebuilds are held by Van Dyne Engineering in Huntington Beach, CA.  A nice tribute site to the Miller-Offy legacy also exists here, with a concise racing engine history of Harry Arminius Miller here.

Anyone else care to dream about the moonlight on the Wabash tonight?  I know I will.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Zip Line Fever

Lots of talk around the ol' Twittersphere since the great party thrown by Indianapolis for Superbowl XLVI and especially the Superbowl Village where the Zip Line was an instant hit.  Many have called for IMS to do likewise beginning with the Indy 500 season.  I happen to agree 100% that this needs to happen. 

During my lunch-hour today, my wheels (and mouse and Google Earth and photoshoppery) got the best of me and I threw out on Twitter some ideas (based on my experience at numerous Indy 500 weekends) of Zip Line locations that seem on surface to be quite feasible given the 'lay of the land'. 

Some traverse the garage areas, some over the fan village and Carb Day concert zone, some at the north end incorporate the New Snake Pit and Miller Lite Party Deck, and some are merely for fun.  I hate to rule anything out until they can be examined anyway...

Below I offer some ideas of fun (and seemingly feasible) locations for a Zip Line at IMS:

I will go ahead and say that they'd have me 4 days in a row over Indy 500 weekend regardless of location but ESPECIALLY if the 750' (green) option were to materialize.  I'd pay my daily IMS entrance fee PLUS a reasonable Zip Line fee to shuttle into the place over 16th Street, the short chute, and end up in the Hall of Fame Parking Area. Are you kidding me?! What a memory THAT could create! While I understand that version is likely to never happen, I can't help but wonder anyway...

What would be your Zip Line ideas?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

F1 Declares 2012 'Year of the Platypus'

The rule changes in F1 for 2012 have created an apparent boon for the automotive plastic (carbon actually) surgeons who all appear to have learned from the same internet school of nose modification. In the name of safety, the noses must be lowered by 7.5 cm to a specified maximum height of 55cm which will help restrict the dangers of a protruding proboscis in a car-to-car incident.

So while Ecclestone continues to reshape the (over-4000 year-old) Chinese Zodiac to suit his legislative agenda, check out this lineup of F1 (ahem) "Beauties" only Bernie could love, in this, the Year of the Platypus:

Wait a tick... what do we have here?! 

A non-duckbilled auto for 2012?!  I give you the GroundedEffects (unrivaled) BEST Looking F1 car of the 2012 season... 
Thank you McLaren for doing what seemed impossible by all other designers. If for not other reason but this, I commend you and shall be cheering for your chrome carriage this season. 

Godspeed oh pretty, shiny McLaren, but beware, for the platypus is not only ugly by most standards, but also a venomous mammal that will ruin your Sunday given the chance.

Which of the above contraptions above do you see as 'beautiful'?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Personal Appeal from Indycar Uberfans

OK, so most everyone has seen the mighty Rubens Barrichello in the appetite-whetting video of his test in Sebring with the ever-present GoPro cameras, mobile devices, Facebookery, and Tweetering which documents all sorts of action and going-on these days.

A fair bit of radio and print news has also emerged from the trickles and gushes of information from this 'private' event. We've even seen heretofore unofficial and highly (but not really, apparently) classified performance information from various sources on site in Sebring.

We fans go ga-ga for this stuff, especially on the heels of the demi-official start of the 2012 racing season, The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Our juices have been flowing already this off-season with thoughts of the potential for new juggernauts (or at least some getting-to-know-you drama from learning new equipment).

My point is (and I do have one) that we "uberfans" LOVE (bold,underline,italics) this information!

My fear is (and I do have one) that despite all the assumptions of privacy during private testing, we're on the verge of seeing a ban on Twitter use 
(or other such similar outlets) by league and league-related peeps.

Dear Powers-That-Be,
Please don't.