Keeping Auto Racing Relevant

Auto racing has evolved from its roots of loud cars circling dirt tracks in the Deep South to what it is today — a multibillion dollar industry with fans from across society.

Just how can racing adapt even as new series or track seems to be popping up virtually everywhere, especially at a time when people have shorter attention spans and more choices of how and where to spend their entertainment dollars?

Race cars are sleeker and more technologically advanced than they ever have been. Drivers are stronger, more physically fit and better trained. And, the sport itself is more competitive than it ever has been, with more and more races being decided on the final lap.

Even with all that said, some of the luster has worn off of the sport. Safety advances, while always a good thing, have lessened the likelihood of spectacular crashes on the racetrack. And, let’s face it, many trackside spectators and at-home viewers wanted to see those crashes just for the excitement they add to the race. Race rules themselves have also changed to ensure greater parity among teams by slowing cars down rather than speeding them up.

One way to get that luster back and people watching auto racing is to bring the experience to them where they are and when they want it via live streaming, video on demand, 30-minute videos of the race or even a five minute highlight reel. Many teams and drivers are also active on social media, regularly interacting with fans with behind the scenes videos and responding to questions online.

Many racing promoters also understand that anyone who is able to drive can race, meaning that racing schools and amateur races are available virtually everywhere and serve to attract people to the sport.

Another way to bring spectators back to the track is to give people more bang for their buck. Pre-race festivities now include concerts and other entertainment, including additional races before the main event to keep fans engaged.

No matter how racing adapts, one thing is certain: There will always be a market for the sport because people are always going to care about driving. There is something almost primal about seeing who is faster and will capture the checkered flag on the final lap.

How Do Formula 1 Cars Operate?

formula-1-cars

Formula 1 cars are some of the fastest machines man has ever created. They are precisely engineered to maximize speed and performance above all else. Despite their popularity, many still do not know just how they work. That is why the following list of four main components that allow a Formula 1 car to operate has been assembled. These components, in no particular order, are as follows:

  • Transmission
  • Chassis
  • Aerodynamics
  • Engine

Transmission

The transmission of Formula 1 cars must be as seamless as possible, as drivers quickly shift up and down as they accelerate and decelerate down straight stretches or around turns. Drivers use paddle shifters to shift gears as opposed to a more traditional stick shift. This allows drivers to quickly and precisely shift gears while accelerating at incredible rates.

Chassis

In order to be as light as possible, the chassis of many Formula 1 cars are made of carbon fiber. This allows the engine to move the vehicle down the race track much faster than a typical steel chassis. In a sport that relies on milliseconds to win a race, every additional weight reduction is of great concerns to each team.

Aerodynamics

The body of a Formula 1 car is designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. In a race where top speeds easily exceed two hundred miles per hour, it is imperative to minimize wind resistance. In order to maximize the efficiency of the vehicle, each part of the car is individually designed to minimize wind resistance as opposed to designing a the car as a whole.

Engine

Unlike most vehicles seen on the road that have only a few hundred horsepower at most, the engine of a formula 1 vehicle has an average of 900 horsepower. This monstrous engine catapults the vehicle down straightaways and around curves faster than any other machine in the world. The engine is the crown jewel of Formula 1 racing and is easily the most tinkered with and adjusted part of the car.

Formula 1 vehicles are truly an engineering marvel. Hopefully, by reviewing the major components mentioned above, it will be easier to understand just what it takes to make Formula 1 cars operate.

Juan Manuel Fangio: The Best Formula One Driver of All Time

Over the decades, Formula One and racing fans in general have deemed various professional drivers as the best for one reason or another. However, researchers from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom used a more scientific approach in determining the best of the best. By implementing a statistical analysis system, the group deemed Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio the best Formula One driver to date. juan-manuel-fangio

The “gentleman racer” drove during the 1950s. During his career, Fangio won 24 out of 51 races. He also gained five world championships and had four different teams during that time. On the other hand, German Michael Schumacher won 91 times and had seven world championships under his belt. Yet, he was only ranked eight according to the analysis. Ayrton Senna and Lewis Hamilton both are three-time world champions. However, they too ranked lower than Fangio.

Given these findings, many may be wondering how the assessment came to the unusual conclusion. The complex study took many factors into account besides merely the driver’s ability. Other considerations included the speed driven during races, the reliability of the vehicle, weather conditions and the degree of support the driver received from his team. Comparing drivers from the 1950s to the current day also presented a challenge.

Drivers were evaluated based on their abilities alone and in combination with their team backing. However, drivers did and do not always work with the same team, which made it easier to study the drivers separately. Nevertheless, the research also demonstrated the importance of having a good team. The scientists found that teams often played a dominant role when drivers were successful. The function, capability and reliability of the driver’s car fall on the heads of the pit crew. If the car has a history of problems, drivers have a reduced chance of winning regardless of their skill.

Despite the fact that the study ranked the top 100 drivers, the list was void of female drivers. The reason is that not many women competed in Formula One races over the years. The few that have were not successful and did not have enough qualifying factors to make the list.

Five Auto TV Shows Worth Your Time

On CarlTurnley.net I often blog about my love of cars and racing–it’s a passion that I’ve held for quite some time. While I can fully recognize that not everyone shares the same love of cars that I do, if you’ve found yourself on this website, reading my autoblog, there’s a good chance that you’re interested.

Whether you love cars or simply drive one to work every day, automobiles have become a huge part of most people’s’ lives. They’re on the streets, in magazines, advertised in every other commercial, litter billboards everywhere and, of course, are on television. I’ll be the first to admit that a TV show about car might not sound exciting, but as the saying goes, don’t knock it until you try it.

  1. Counting Cars

Starting off the list is a good car show for non-car lovers to indulge in–a guilty pleasure for some people akin to watching Pawn Stars or other reality shows. The premise of Counting Cars is similar to that of American Restoration–the group restores and customizes classic cars and motorcycles. And, in typical reality-tv fashion, they argue and bicker throughout. Given the more “reality tv” aspect, many car lovers won’t be drawn to Counting Cars, but it’s great lazy TV.

  1. Fast n Loud

Coming in third in Ranker’s list of the best TV shows about cars, the show’s name speaks volumes (pun partially intended) to its content. The premise is the norm for auto shows; finding old, beat up, run down and otherwise junk cars and restoring them for a profit. A ot of the draw in this show comes from the characters and the skits they put on in each episode.

  1. Overhaulin’

A new concept on the list! Overhaulin’ is as much pure entertainment as it is a car show. The synopsis is fairly simple: the family or friends of someone who’s driving an old junker enlists the help of Overhaulin’ to “steal” the car (or have it towed by fake police, seized by repo men, etc). Then, the car is completely customized and restored and the owner of the car is surprised at the end of each episode with the return of their new car.

  1. Consumer Reports

Yes, you’re right, Consumer Reports isn’t a television show, but the long list of videos available on the YouTube channel provides more than enough video content. Consumer Reports is known for its stringent and meticulous reviews of cars with a variety of criteria to determine each year’s best buys.

  1. Top Gear

Did you expect number one to be anything else? Top Gear is a long-running English tv show that has spawned numerous spinoffs including an American version. None will completely replace the original, though. The conversational attitude about the whole series, the hosts’ hilarity and the challenges, races and specials make Top Gear a must watch.

93 Years of Le Mans

Carl Turnley Le Mans

Come 10pm on your average weekday, adults with full-time jobs, full-time responsibilities and full-time exhaustion all over the world yawn, turn off the TV and head to bed for the evening. Most of us struggle to stay awake for the end of Sunday night football or the last episode of the Walking Dead.

For a group of 60 individuals once every year, staying awake for 24 hours isn’t just the difference between seeing the last play of the Raiders game or not. Those people have to remain awake, vigilant, and in complete control of a two-ton vehicle hurtling around a track at approximately 200 mph for 24 hours in what will probably be the biggest race of their lives.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a race of not just skill and speed, but of endurance. Drivers are often chastised for not being athletes because of their relatively stationary status when competing. Finding someone who will argue that sitting in a sweltering hot car for 24 hours in the heat of June, navigating a track and maintaining pinpoint focus and clarity for such a time is not a show of athleticism should prove difficult. And while, yes, there are multiple drivers in each car that swap out periodically for safety reasons, the fact that  24 hour race is incredibly debilitating remains.

If you’re unfamiliar with the race, the name provides ample clues as to its general overarching ideas: it’s a 24-hour sports car race on a track (and some public streets, though this has changed in recent years, more on this in a bit) through Le Mans, France. The race is one of the most well-known and highly coveted races in motorsports, making up one leg of the Triple Crown.

Many rules have changed since the first Le Mans race in 1923. Originally, the track was a combination of both tracks and winding streets through the town. However, for obvious safety reasons the track has been fairly extensively modified, though it still does include stretches of public roads closed during the race.

While most cars utilize three drivers, swapping in and out in a three-way rotation, some choose instead to only use two, skirting the rules regarding driver fatigue, another modification from the early iterations of the race’s rulebook. Huge innovations in aerodynamics, engine design and construction and racing strategy have altered the way the race has played out historically.

Many people have questioned the legitimacy of why a driver is considered an athlete, citing their lack of movement and abilities to run, jump or throw a ball accurately. But if you’ve ever witnessed a driver compete, chances are you’d change your mind. Adding in the endurance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans should put to rest the case completely.

Why Millions Love IndyCar, and Why You Should Too

IndyCar isn’t Formula 1. It isn’t NASCAR. It’s not just left turns. The winners aren’t so forecasted that you can turn off your TV before the last lap is done.

IndyCar is exhilarating, it’s engaging, it’s on-the-edge-of-your-seat excitement and it’s rising in popularity once again. While there’s still a certain stigma that comes with being a racing fan, I implore that you give IndyCar racing a chance before you cast it aside as another drop in the pool of “it’s just driving, it’s not a sport and I’m not a NASCAR fan.”

 

It’s not NASCAR

People often confuse the two, but NASCAR and IndyCar racing are absolutely different in more than one way. The cars are different. The drivers are different. The strategy is immensely different. The two are both racing sports, but watching them side by side points to two very different types of races.

IndyCar is not a “contact” race so to speak–the lighter cars and different bodies mean that crashes can be more devastating and evasive maneuvers become more important. IndyCar also avoids falling into the “it’s just turning left over and over and over again” pit. While there are certainly oval tracks in IndyCar racing (the Indy 500, for instance), there are also street tracks that involve twists and turns you won’t see in NASCAR.

They’re Risking Their Bodies for This Sport

Almost every mainstream sport in United States culture are in some way dangerous to its athletes. NFL players are faced with concussion issues later in life, just to name one of a number of health issues that plague the athletes in other sports. In IndyCar, a wrong turn, a split-second missed decision or a mistake by your opponents could mean an explosive and potentially deadly crash. The athletes in control of the cars that speed around turns at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour are risking life and limb for a sport that they love; seeing that kind of passion for something you care about makes watching them race even more inviting.

They’re Athletes With Incredible Skill

Do you watch baseball? What about football, soccer, hockey, basketball or golf? If you watch any other sport but scoff at the idea of IndyCar drivers being athletes and IndyCar not qualifying as a “sport,” you might want to reconsider.

The reason to watch IndyCar are the same reasons that you’d watch virtually any other sport in existence: the competition, the strategy, the competitors and the thrill of seeing the absolute best in the business compete on the highest stage available.

The racers you’re watching take these turns are the best of the best, they’re the only ones in the world capable of doing what they do at such a level. Seeing 30 of them do it at once, on the same track, each vying for that first place finish are competitors at heart. If you’re watching football, you’re watching it for the competition, you’re watching it in hopes that your favorite team will band together and ultimately come out on top. The same can be said for IndyCar–the team being the driver and the group of mechanics that work together to complete a race.

There’s More Strategy Than You May Think

And the strategy is a whole other ballgame, so to speak. Unlike in NASCAR and Formula 1, IndyCar features considerably more passing, more breaking, more sharp turns and, generally speaking, more strategy. Racers have to know when to make turns, when to ease up on the gas and when to execute the passes that you don’t see much of in F1 racing. And the finishes are almost always neck and neck, coming down to the wire to keep fans on the edge of their seats.

If you were unsure about IndyCar racing before, give it a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

 

It’s Almost Here! Honda NSX to Debut at Goodwood Festival of Speed in June

In a month, the Goodwood Festival of Speed will be underway. This time around, Jenson Button will be getting behind the wheel of the new Honda NSX, which is making it’s second generation debut after the first was discontinued back in 2005. Glynn Williams of Business Car Manager predicts that the NSX will soon be the envy of high rolling car-collectors, joining the ranks of the coveted Porsche 911 Turbo, Audi R8, and McLaren 540C. Honda’s latest offering has similar performance specs to these classics, and is offered at about the same price.carl-turnley-Detroit_NAIAS_2015_2016_Acura_NSX

The Honda NSX is actually made in the USA (Ohio, to be exact), by a small team of 100 people. With 573 horsepower and top speeds of 191 miles/hour, the vehicle can sprint from 0-62 in under three seconds. Even though the car’s top competitors have higher top speeds, the NSX holds an advantage with its impressive acceleration, thanks to three electric motors. The car also features four different driving modes that can affect everything from the motor to the engine noise level.

Car enthusiasts have long waited for the return of the NSX, and given what we know so far it won’t be a let down.

Honda vs. Chevy

The 100th edition of the Indy 500 is fast approaching, and two teams are already embroiled in some serious beef. In the events leading up to the big day, Chevrolet has dominated the last three, leaving no victories for Honda. To make it worse, Chevy swept the podium on the qualifying stage, and only two Honda drivers placed in the top 11. And with IndyCar’s biggest event knocking, the hopes that Honda will win it are nothing short of slim.

Honda is not taking kindly to some of Chevrolet's racing tactics.

Honda is not taking kindly to some of Chevrolet’s racing tactics.

So what happened? It comes down to this: Honda is blaming the IndyCar establishment for giving Chevy an unfair advantage; Chevrolet is taking it in stride, arguing that Honda should have been better prepared. Since 2012, Chevy has won two Indy 500’s, and Honda has won the other two. The pair of manufacturers has always been competitive, but some recent events have taken their rivalry to new heights.

In 2015, the sport began to allow aerodynamic body kits. Eager to beat out the competition, Chevy jumped at the opportunity… but there was a problem. Several drivers went airborne during the Indy 500 practice runs, and the unofficial take was that Chevrolet’s design caused the malfunctions. What happened next is the crux of the rift. IndyCar changed the rules on pole day, allowing the Chevy cars to stay on the track. Honda saw the changes as being favorable only to Chevy; the organization bowed to the expectations of a manufacturer, not vice versa. What happened next was somewhat unpredictable in hindsight— Chevy grabbed the top four spots in last year’s Indy 500.

Michael Andretti, the owner of Team Honda, is voicing his disappointment because he feels that “two classes” of car are being allowed to compete. Not only that, but the gulf will also take away from the potential for an awesome show.

What do you think?

Roborace, Where Intelligence Meets Technology

Sports constantly evolve with technology. Instant replay, for instance, has been introduced to sports to review close plays. In tennis, line judges have the technology to review hotly contested calls in the most intense moments of the match. Even as medicine and sports science advance, the events become safer as the rules change to protect players— for instance, the NFL banning all chop blocks.

But what happens when technology changes the game so dramatically that it creates what amounts to a new sport altogether? Just look at RoboRace.

RoboRace, which is a partnership between investment fund Kinetic and electric racing organization Formula-E, hopes to bring autonomous vehicles to the race track The races would transfer the skill of the individual driver and pit crew to a team of engineers. Those teams would get the same vehicle machinery, but they would have to create their own algorithm to dictate how it behaves in a race.

With the organic human element taken out of the sport, would hundreds of fans pack raceways to see a race autonomous vehicles that only respond to a unique algorithm?

Ars Technica’s Jonathan M. Gitlin raises the point that this non-human element provides a unique opportunity. With essentially no need to be tethered to safety regulations— remember, there are no humans in these cars— the tracks themselves could be more experimental; the speeds could reach new highs. Or, as Gitlin puts it, the races could resemble the “wackier end of the Hot Wheels spectrum.”

The reaction is sure to be mixed, but what a conversation to have.

Sidecar

Over at Petrolicious I bumped into a post that took a look at one of the more fascinating styles of racing automobiles: engine passengers. Obviously, we’re not talking about engine riding shotgun, and the reality is that it can be a bit hard to imagine for those who do have not seen one. So let’s take a look at some of the cars they’ve shared with the readers.

italian dalmonar car turning the corner

That’s the Nardi Bisiluro Damolnar. As you can see, the engine is fitted not under the hood, but in a section of the body that runs parallel to the driver’s side. Debuting in 1955, this particular vehicle was built with one thing in mind: endurance. Enrico Nardi wanted his car to compete with the best at the legendary Le Mans endurance race. One of the most important aspects of the dream vehicle was the emphasis on aerodynamics. This compact speedster actually required the driver to put their legs through the steering wheel, and the brake system was a work of genius in its own right. But while hopes were high, it ultimately did not finish due to suspension and weight problems— it met its end when it was blown off the track while being lapped. However, you’ve got to respect the ingenuity in the design.

While the Damolnar turned heads in its day, it certainly wasn’t the first vehicle to have that unique body design. That credit goes to 1951’s TARF II. The car was nicknamed “the twin torpedo”, and primarily competed in low-drag speed races. And speedy it was! It won a competition with an officially recorded rate of 185 mph, although it’s maximum speed was almost 200mph! Lucky for us, there has been video of this bad boy in action.

These cars aren’t only relics of the past. Honda is actually tinkering with a similar concept with their two cars aptly named Project 2 and Project 4. It’s pushing around 215 horsepower and weighs under 900 pounds. Again, this thing is a concept, so don’t expect to see it on the track anytime soon. But at least we know it’s out there.