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Pondering the modern front-engine Indy car

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  • Pondering the modern front-engine Indy car

    I've been daydreaming about this for a couple of years now, and I have taken my admittedly rudimentary, aviation-oriented knowledge of aerodynamics and fan's knowledge of chassis design (WAY less advanced than my aerodynamics, I'll admit) to sort of brainstorm what a modern, front-engine Indy car might look like. I've come up with two that I posted on my racing history web site, one with wings and one without wings. I went into this thinking that whether the roundy-round purists like it or not, we are going to need some semblence of aerodynamic ground effects on the cars, one way or another, because at the speeds these cars are going to be running there will need to be SOMETHING holding 'em on the ground, even if there are no "wings" per se. So I came up with 2 designs.

    The winged one I envisioned being kind of like a "standard" formula-type Indy car, pointy-nosed and with sidepods and wings, but with the engine mounted in front of the driver and the driver pushed back a couple of feet, but it does have front and rear wings that operate like the ones we have now, with all of the associated benefits to adjustment and handling. Sort of like a slimmed-down Panoz ALMS roadracer. I figured if the Panoz could be built and run halfway competitively, it shouldn't be that big a leap to build a single-seater, open-wheel version.

    The second design, non-winged was kind of hard to figure. We do want to have a certain amount of inherent aerodynamic downforce, but without wings at either end. What I ended up with was a car with sidepods but no front or rear wings, but a kind of wedge-shaped, shovel nose like the front end of a 1972 Eagle, and a sort of adjustable rear blade spoiler. It kind of ended up looking like a McLaren M15 or Lotus 56 with a longer nose and sidepods. (Sidepods are also a convenient way to solve some packaging problems, for example, where to put the radiators and oil coolers, etc.) RWD, of course, although given the packaging of these cars it might be easier to make them (gasp) front-wheel drive....

    Both cars would have a carbon-fibre center section for crashworthiness not much different from what the current cars have, but it would be just that, a sort of standard "core." What you build around that is subject to a bit more creative interpretation, as long as it basically fits within the rules.

    Engine-wise, I have always liked the idea of equalized stock-blocks like they run in the various roadracing classes, where you have bored-out Chevy V8s running against Ferrari V12s and Audi and BMW inlines or what have you; I don't see why it shouldn't work in an Indy car format with a little judicious rulemaking. I wouldn't like too many pure-race engines running unhandicapped. I would like my Indy cars to have a little wiggle-room, in the design, to allow for weight penalties or inlet restrictors to keep things competitive, yet still allow a little more "run-what-you-brung" in the engine compartment.

    As for the series they run in, everybody here knows I like roadracing, but I'd keep the number of such events down to maybe 5 out of 20 at the country's best road courses, and maybe Long Beach for the "event"-ness of it. The majority of the events would stay on ovals, rather like next year's schedule. Indy cars are traditionally an oval discipline with a few select road courses thrown in. Personally I'd love to see my front-engined cars on the road courses, just for the sheer "what-the-hell?!?" factor of it. I would grandfather the old mid-engine cars out over 2 or 3 years so that backmarker teams or upstarts could afford to get in, but the mid-engine cars would have to be subject to very limiting weight or restrictor penalties so that they don't run off with everything. The front-engine Indy cars would still be fast, but I'd like 'em around 210 to 220. Will they get faster after a few years of tinkering? Who knows. Probably. But they would be a unique class unto themselves again, and hopefully easier for American open-wheel guys to get a handle on.

    What do you think....?
    "Only a fool fights in a burning house."-Kang

    "If you listen to fools....The Maaahhhhb Ruuuules....."-Ronnie James Dio

  • #2
    Terrible moderators can destroy great forums

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    • #3
      I know you're really daydreaming... you have a Bowtie on the winged version!
      --Paul Dalbey
      (the poster formerly known as 'pdalbey')

      Different men, from vastly different backgrounds, focused on the same goal – a white line painted on a yard of brick 500 miles ahead.

      http://Fieldof33.com

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      • #4
        Originally posted by pdalbey
        I know you're really daydreaming... you have a Bowtie on the winged version!
        That's because I was thinking more in terms of a stock-block mouse motor than a pure-race IRL OHC Chev/Cosworth motor.
        "Only a fool fights in a burning house."-Kang

        "If you listen to fools....The Maaahhhhb Ruuuules....."-Ronnie James Dio

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        • #5
          Great job Sea Fury
          I like better non winged car. With ground effect (venturi tunnel) that would be able to go fast enough - up to 225mph.


          Problem with front engine cars is that the fuel cell is at the rear end. Starting with full load the back is heavy, but after many laps it is much lighter - so center of gravity changes a lot, handling of the cars changes a lot (tire wear different too). Thats why rear engine cars will allways outperform front engine cars unless you find a better placing of fuel cell, but I don't thinkso.
          Having that in mind front engine car competition would be more exciting and will be decided more by drivers.

          We would witness a lot of something like that:
          Tony Kanaan in first 20 laps of the last stint runs away fast, but then becomes much slower. Hornish on other hand lost a lot of positions in first 20 laps of the stint, but then passes one guy after another and finally two laps to go goes past leader Kanaan on the outside in turn 1, takes the lead and then the victory.
          "The IRL has let me down.... 2002 was the last year of the IRL... They pushed out the guys that they created the sport for..." - Billy Boat

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          • #6
            Great work SeaFury! If only we could convince those in the ivory tower the power of creative thinking is a good thing...

            I like the fact that you design to an envelope, which offers countless creative ways to get there. Something that is sorely lacking in todays cookie cutter cars.

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            • #7
              You're certainly not the first to think about this. TF has seen several peoples' ideas on FE Indy cars. If only the "powers that be" shared our enthusiasm.
              My own take:

              Ryan

              Daisey Designs
              High-Performance Card Models

              http://www.daisey-designs.com

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              • #8
                Originally posted by nx13688
                You're certainly not the first to think about this. TF has seen several peoples' ideas on FE Indy cars. If only the "powers that be" shared our enthusiasm.
                My own take:

                Certainly very similar to what I had in mind (except maybe that front snorkel on the green car-that's a little scary, a cyclops in the mirrors....). I was sort of picturing a slightly more angular car, which I viewed as being necessary to accomodate a slightly larger production-based engine (which I believe is a good idea-run the engine regs basically the way, say, ALMS, Grand Am or the Speed World Challenge does) than a narrower, lower, smaller race-only engine. I was kind of inspired by the cars I saw as a kid (I'm 33)-the McLaren M15 and 16, the early-70s Eagles with the broad, flat noses. Seeing those recently, I thought, push the driver back and there would certainly be room for a stock-block up there. The Miller Mallard Herk used to have was also a point of reference, the wedge-shaped cars of the 1970-71 seasons, etc. I kind of pictured a Lotus 56 with modern-style sidepods as being workable. I wanted a car that would accomodate anything from a 4.6 DOHC Ford V8 to a mouse motor to a Wankel to a Ferrari Enzo engine to a PT6 turbine and bring a little more 'run-what-ya-brung" to it.
                "Only a fool fights in a burning house."-Kang

                "If you listen to fools....The Maaahhhhb Ruuuules....."-Ronnie James Dio

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                • #9
                  I'm pondering the need for safer, safe barriers. Great work, but to roll back years of development for a sentiment is not wise.
                  Get your head out of your past!!!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Grinder-Tank
                    I'm pondering the need for safer, safe barriers. Great work, but to roll back years of development for a sentiment is not wise.
                    Development? Hah! Stagnation is more like it. There is no reason why a front engine formula wouldn't work and be both safe and fast. The possibilities are endless.
                    Proud to be a complainer.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Grinder-Tank
                      I'm pondering the need for safer, safe barriers. Great work, but to roll back years of development for a sentiment is not wise.
                      It's not that I want the cars to be BUILT LIKE a '72 Eagle or Lotus 56-that's just the aesthetic I was going for. I was very conscious of modern safety requirements. I was thinking about that fuel cell location specifically, which is one thing I don't want being the first thing to go into the wall-it would have to be set in a well-protected monococque (sp) just like the cockpit, sort of like a composite version of the titanium bathtub an A-10 cockpit is in, and I wouldn't want anything bolted to it like a transaxle; everything would have to be shuffled, but that's why we have engineers.

                      It's not out of sentiment-it's about shaking up the 41-year-old status quo of the mid-engine formula car and making the cars a little more challenging technically and competitively. I grew up in the formula-car era and have known nothing else-it's not born out of any kind of real nostalgia for Indy Roadsters for me. Nor do I have any real fondness for sprinters or other modern short-track open-wheel cars-I don't think you can safely build a modern high-speed Indy car that way. I would just like to throw the designers and drivers a complete curveball-turn the tables on 'em the way Jack Brabham and Colin Chapman turned the tables on Indy in the early 1960s. It's just time for something different, and if it can be made safer, cheaper (in the long run), and unique and challenging to drive, that's why I'd like to see it. It's not because I want to return to the days of Watson Roadsters and lay-down Offys or what have you. Admittedly I'm not an engineer, but I can't see any technical reason why it can't be done.
                      "Only a fool fights in a burning house."-Kang

                      "If you listen to fools....The Maaahhhhb Ruuuules....."-Ronnie James Dio

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                      • #12
                        Very nice renderings SeaFury !
                        SENسR MODERATOR......

                        "Better To Be Judged By Twelve Than Carried By Six"
                        " Only Those Who Will Risk Going Too Far....Can Possibly Find Out How Far One Can Go "...T.S. Elliot....

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                        • #13
                          I wouldn't want to be in the car when it rear ends into the wall with my back so close to the rear of the car. There is something to be said about the safety of the car with the engine, bell housing and gearbox there is dissipate the energy of the wreck. For that matter, having the engine in front is so good either, it has no where to go but into the drivers compartment.

                          Get over it. Rear end cars are here to stay.

                          I can tell this is going to be a long winter on TrackForum….

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                          • #14
                            Borrowed from E-cats post over on the nostalgia site.
                            aXe


                            Born Again Race Fan seen at
                            www.openwheelracers3.com

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                            • #15
                              ...good job & interesting.

                              Glad to see ya here Sea Fury!
                              ​a bad day at the race track beats a good day at work

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