Keeping It Off the Wall|
by Ed Donath
Asheville, NC—In an effort to stimulate fan interest in the new '04 season by increasing sorely missed on-track passing, an innovation has been announced which enables Champ Car drivers to temporarily increase the turbo boost of their engines from 41.5 to 44 inches simply by pushing a button; a strategic move that will yield an extra 50 horsepower per use.
The catch? Drivers are empowered to use this increased boost for only 60 seconds per race. According to Champ Car and Cosworth techies, this will allow for perhaps five push-to-pass applications on the average race circuit.
OWRS Technical Director Lee Dykstra explained that the normal 41.5-inch level of boost is to be controlled by engine sensors that measure turbo boost before it reaches the pop-off valve. But as always, the pop-off valves—maintained by Champ Car and distributed to teams at the track during race weekends—will regulate turbo boost to the maximum 44 inches of mercury allowed during P2P applications.
"We wanted to give our drivers more of an opportunity to make passes and compete for position and we think this will play a key role in that,” said Lee Dykstra. “Champ Car Director of Electronics Kevin Vander Laan and others in our organization have worked very hard to develop this new application and we expect it to make for more exciting racing.”
All of us would probably agree that there has been far too little on-track passing for position in our beloved speed sport in recent years. So, experimentation with almost any pro-active innovation that could make Champ Car contests look more like actual auto races is, at least, worth a try.
Nonetheless, even now in their latter day neo-electronic form, pop-off valves are often criticized for a lack of uniformity, if not reliability. It's too bad that the Cosworth people couldn't come up with a push-to-pass gimmick that works independently from controversial POV's.
And in a yet-to-be-defined gray area:
Will P2P also be incorporated into qualifying sessions? If not, how will it be disabled or monitored prior to race day? And will all of this create too much extra responsibility for Champ Car's already challenged officials and stewards?
Likewise, whatever method will be used onboard each Champ Car to monitor the 60-seconds per-driver/per-race hyper-turbo boost...unwanted controversy and negative PR could easily be the result of a lapse in uniformity and/or reliability.
In an effort to enable TV viewers to recognize how the drivers are using their P2P buttons during races the Champ Car TV production crew will attempt to monitor each use of the system and will keep spectators informed as to how much time each driver has remaining in his boost reserve. The announce team will also track the tendencies of individual drivers, helping fans to predict when their favorite driver might be more apt to use his allotment.
Time to do some math: 18 drivers = 18 minutes of boost time.
In turn, 18 minutes of P2P equals at least that much play-by-play chatter about the actual use of the buttons—before the announce team devotes any time to analyzing where and when the next driver might push to pass.
But at least the talk in Champ Car racing won't be about such lurid topics as steroid use, player violence, and lewd halftime performances. And it will certainly make a good diversion from what promises to be the longest and most obnoxious Presidential campaign in history.
So what do you think will be the most talked-about topic during race telecasts?
Good answer. You hit it right on the button!
Copyright © 2004 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
Ed Donath Archive