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What was so wrong with the 1995 rulebook?

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  • What was so wrong with the 1995 rulebook?

    There is all this talk about new chassis, a spec chassis, a drastic move and I am sitting here thinking what is so wrong with those cars rules wise that can't be corrected with some updates?

    I understand the safety considerations, so of course a slightly larger cockpit, increased head protection, modern crash standards and modern anti-intrusion standards as well as things like wheel tethers would have to be updated.

    Aerodynamics has had almost 15 years to progress since then, and a simple fix to that would be to keep the small wings and reduce the size of the underbody tunnels, and make adjustments to rules for things that have been cooked up since but aren't going to require major car changes to get rid of.

    In 1996, CART took that rules package and reduced undertray downforce quite a bit, then in 1998 they decreased the size of the wings somewhat to try and bring speeds back in line. Something like this would have to be done to reduce cornering speed.

    Speed-wise producing a rulebook that allows that package with 800 horsepower now and room to creep up would put the speeds in the pocket where they should be and allow a balance between straight line speed and cornering speed where the cars have to really be driven.

    With all the modern safety changes, SAFER barrier, materials advancements, et cetera there are really no safety excuses to not do it if it doesn't result in significantly higher speeds. In 1996, we did have a tragedy with those cars with Scott Brayton, but with the HANS device, improved head and neck protection, better built cars and the SAFER (I know that where he hit was not where the barrier would have been) those speeds could be safe and manageable with a much less restrictive rules package.

    Let the race cars look like race cars and be built to a rule book instead of a rubber stamp.
    "I kill for the code to disarm this mess..."

  • #2
    Originally posted by Marc P. Gregoire
    There is all this talk about new chassis, a spec chassis, a drastic move and I am sitting here thinking what is so wrong with those cars rules wise that can't be corrected with some updates?
    You make some very good points. And I think they are valid. Personally, I'd go back even further. How about using a rulebook from around 1980; especially for engines. You could allow both normally aspirated and turbocharged stock blocks (V-6, V-8, etc.), normally aspirated DOHC racing engines as well as turbocharged racing engines (again of all cylinder configurations). And get rid of any kind of rev limiter and even turbo boost limits. You could still keep speeds "reasonable" (whatever that means) by drastically taking away chassis downforce to the point where drivers have to actually brake and lift off of the throttle in the turns. And as you say, keep some of the safety developments but open up the rules to where teams can actually build their own cars if they so desire. All of your points make sense to me. The rules are never perfect; even with today's spec racers. But something that allowed areas for actual innovation would go a long way toward making the Indy Car series and the Indianapolis 500 a lot more interesting than it is today.

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    • #3
      Interesting to you. Maybe even interesting to me, but not so interesting to the people actually paying the bills, the team owners and their sponsors. If you think the sport is expensive now, what you're proposing would quickly propel it beyond F1.

      Originally posted by indyrjc
      You make some very good points. And I think they are valid. Personally, I'd go back even further. How about using a rulebook from around 1980; especially for engines. You could allow both normally aspirated and turbocharged stock blocks (V-6, V-8, etc.), normally aspirated DOHC racing engines as well as turbocharged racing engines (again of all cylinder configurations). And get rid of any kind of rev limiter and even turbo boost limits. You could still keep speeds "reasonable" (whatever that means) by drastically taking away chassis downforce to the point where drivers have to actually brake and lift off of the throttle in the turns. And as you say, keep some of the safety developments but open up the rules to where teams can actually build their own cars if they so desire. All of your points make sense to me. The rules are never perfect; even with today's spec racers. But something that allowed areas for actual innovation would go a long way toward making the Indy Car series and the Indianapolis 500 a lot more interesting than it is today.
      "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
      Thomas Jefferson

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      • #4
        The 1995 engine rules allowed for 161.7 ci turbocharged purpose built engines, 209.3 ci pushrod engines with different boost limits depending on production based or purpose built, 274.6 ci normally aspirated, purpose built engines, and 390 ci (!) stock blocks.

        1995's boost limits of 45" for turbo engines and 55" for stock block turbo engines.

        To keep the same displacement limits for turbo engines, boost would be basically negligible at 37" for the turbo engines and have to come down to somewhere around 45" for the stock blocks to put them between 800 and 850 horsepower.

        The normally aspirated IRL engines of now, with a rev limit of 10,300 rpm, and 3.5 litres (213.6) cubic inches of displacement make about 650 horsepower, and on methanol without the spec built restriction they were up at 730. Without the rev limit, and with that 4.5 litres of displacement available, the engines could practically see 900 or more horsepower rendering the turbo engines pointless.

        As well, a 390 cubic inch engine with the less restrictive technical development allowed in those rules would be a 10,500 rpm, 920 horsepower grenade waiting to go off. NASCAR has engines they could make capable of turning that type of rpm level and making over 850 horsepower with a single four barrel, 14:1 compression and 358 cubic inches of displacement.

        Maybe 310 cubic inch stock blocks and smaller pure racing engines could be on the books, with forced induction vacating as the displacements would be so small and boost so negligible it just can't be justified. Offer a few different choices for engine, start them off at that 800-ish horsepower level and let them naturally progress until the next changes have to be made.

        It'd be extremely impressive to keep those displacement levels and reduce the restriction, but I don't see it helping anyone as the cars would be too big for their britches right out of the chute. IMS has seen more than 1000 horsepower on tap as early as the 1970s with the high boost Offys, and in the mid-90s with Penske's Panzers and the Menard V6. Honda in 2000 was pushing 1100 horsepower in qualifying trim, and turning well over 16,000 rpm with 40" of boost from their turbo engines.

        I think 800 horsepower would mean fast lap speeds even with reduced downforce due to the improved handling of the cars without a safety penalty, and offer opportunity for incremental increases.

        240 mph in 2008 is much safer than 200 mph in 1988, nevermind 170 mph in 1968.
        "I kill for the code to disarm this mess..."

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rjohnson999
          Interesting to you. Maybe even interesting to me, but not so interesting to the people actually paying the bills, the team owners and their sponsors. If you think the sport is expensive now, what you're proposing would quickly propel it beyond F1.

          Possibly, but then again maybe not. In fact, the rules were something like that for decades and there was no shortage of cars and car owners. In fact, the racing was more affordable because while a few teams did develop expensive new chassis and engines on their own there were also manufacturers competing with each other to provide equipment that their customer base could afford. What tended to happen was that the top teams had huge budgets and the rest of the field often bought their older equipment to race with. While it's true that most of the rest of the teams didn't have much of a chance to win they could at least afford to race. Today they all have to buy the most expensive and "equal" equipment which leaves the lesser funded teams in a bind. And in spite of all of the "equal" rules only the higher funded teams win. That part hasn't changed at all.

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          • #6
            Time is a funny thing. What was true then is no longer. What worked "for decades" has given way to more solid knowledge about what was only being guessed at then. The real expense in the sport is now staff. Knowledgable, capable staff are a shortage commodity and their cost continues to rise. Turned loose to apply themselves to your virtually unlimited formula would result in a spending frenzy that would have exactly the opposit effect you imagine.

            Originally posted by indyrjc
            Possibly, but then again maybe not. In fact, the rules were something like that for decades and there was no shortage of cars and car owners. In fact, the racing was more affordable because while a few teams did develop expensive new chassis and engines on their own there were also manufacturers competing with each other to provide equipment that their customer base could afford. What tended to happen was that the top teams had huge budgets and the rest of the field often bought their older equipment to race with. While it's true that most of the rest of the teams didn't have much of a chance to win they could at least afford to race. Today they all have to buy the most expensive and "equal" equipment which leaves the lesser funded teams in a bind. And in spite of all of the "equal" rules only the higher funded teams win. That part hasn't changed at all.
            "I have examined all the known superstitions of the world and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
            Thomas Jefferson

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            • #7
              If you do a bit of searching through the old threads in this section you can find at least one frank discussion (between a few people who were there) about the infamous pop-off valves. More precisely, the discussion was about some of the more creative methods that were used to "beat" the pop-off valve and get more boost.

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              • #8
                With the advances in pushrod engine technology, a modern 390 aluminum stockblock NA V8 would make in excess of 900 dead reliable horsepower, weigh just over 300 pounds, and cost around $40,000.
                "It was actually fun, because you're back fully driving again in these trucks. Ninety percent of the tracks we go to in the IRL, you're flat-out. I was having to lift off the corners some here." - Buddy Rice

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Racewriter
                  With the advances in pushrod engine technology, a modern 390 aluminum stockblock NA V8 would make in excess of 900 dead reliable horsepower, weigh just over 300 pounds, and cost around $40,000.
                  RW, you know as well as anyone that in racing if it will make 900 dead reliable horsepower, it'll make 1050 might go the distance horsepower and cost $150,000.

                  That's unavoidable, but the displacement limit would have to be brought down probably to the 305-310 range to put them between 800 and 850. As well, because of the bore spacing restrictions once you start getting up towards the 390 the piston speeds will be way up to make that kind of horsepower.

                  Can't protect the valvetrain so much, but a 310 ci engine with a 4.125" bore would be short enough stroke that the bottom end would stay together very, very well. 4.125" is about the practical limit of a Chevy small block, and at 310 ci would compute out to a 2.9" stroke. Right around 9300 rpm is where they would be hitting 4500 feet per minute piston speed. Smaller bore and a little longer stroke would probably be the ticket.

                  Reliability isn't a rules concern formally but it could curb some of the insanity.

                  I understand what you are saying and that's why I feel there should be a stock block option on the books. Two different ways to skin a cat.
                  "I kill for the code to disarm this mess..."

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                  • #10
                    a bunch of people pushing their own engines, in my mind, will lead to more engine failures and the resulting yellow flag cleanups. i for one prefere to watch green flag racing. just curious if anyone has the yellowflag laps of the 2006 indy (2007 rained) versus the years referenced (1996, 1980)?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ndcrs
                      a bunch of people pushing their own engines, in my mind, will lead to more engine failures and the resulting yellow flag cleanups. i for one prefere to watch green flag racing. just curious if anyone has the yellowflag laps of the 2006 indy (2007 rained) versus the years referenced (1996, 1980)?
                      It never used to be an issue because for some strange reason it used to take less than eight laps to clean up oil down.

                      Yellows are too freaking long now and I'm not sure what the logic behind it is. 1980 had 13 cautions for 64 laps, seven of them due to mechanical failure, but the cautions due to mechanical failures averaged three laps. 1996 had ten cautions for 59 laps, and three of those were for mechanical problems. By then, the caution laps for a tow-in seemed to inflate to five laps.

                      2006 had five cautions for 44 laps, all due to accidents. 1995 had nine for 58 laps, with two for tow ins...there are fewer cautions now but overall they seem to be much longer.
                      "I kill for the code to disarm this mess..."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Racewriter
                        With the advances in pushrod engine technology, a modern 390 aluminum stockblock NA V8 would make in excess of 900 dead reliable horsepower, weigh just over 300 pounds, and cost around $40,000.
                        Yeah but the problem is the one Penske would push out would cost $100,000, weight 380 lbs with a lower center of gravity, and have millions in development, and would push out 930 hp.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BADGER
                          Yeah but the problem is the one Penske would push out would cost $100,000, weight 380 lbs with a lower center of gravity, and have millions in development, and would push out 930 hp.
                          Not with good rules writing and enforcement. He's never been able to co-opt NASCAR in that way.
                          "It was actually fun, because you're back fully driving again in these trucks. Ninety percent of the tracks we go to in the IRL, you're flat-out. I was having to lift off the corners some here." - Buddy Rice

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Racewriter
                            With the advances in pushrod engine technology, a modern 390 aluminum stockblock NA V8 would make in excess of 900 dead reliable horsepower, weigh just over 300 pounds, and cost around $40,000.
                            You won't buy a pushrod Indy 390" motor for $40,000. You can hardly buy a UMP 415" all aluminum 800hp Dirtlate motor for that. The Brayton V-6 Turbos of twenty years ago were $40K. The Cup shops were charging over $60K per motor to the ARCA teams only 2-3 years ago. GM pushed the IRL a few years ago to go pushrod using Cup technology when Toyota/Infiniti were pulling the plug. These would have been motors in the 300 cid range. The IRL refused the offer and stuck with Honda hoping to sign another OHC motor supplier, that never materialized.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Marc P. Gregoire
                              RW, you know as well as anyone that in racing if it will make 900 dead reliable horsepower, it'll make 1050 might go the distance horsepower and cost $150,000.

                              That's unavoidable, but the displacement limit would have to be brought down probably to the 305-310 range to put them between 800 and 850. As well, because of the bore spacing restrictions once you start getting up towards the 390 the piston speeds will be way up to make that kind of horsepower.

                              Can't protect the valvetrain so much, but a 310 ci engine with a 4.125" bore would be short enough stroke that the bottom end would stay together very, very well. 4.125" is about the practical limit of a Chevy small block, and at 310 ci would compute out to a 2.9" stroke. Right around 9300 rpm is where they would be hitting 4500 feet per minute piston speed. Smaller bore and a little longer stroke would probably be the ticket.

                              Reliability isn't a rules concern formally but it could curb some of the insanity.

                              I understand what you are saying and that's why I feel there should be a stock block option on the books. Two different ways to skin a cat.
                              4.185"-4.200" bore are common in todays Small Block chevy race motors. Many of the Dirtlate builders are using 4.185" and shortening the strokes to get better rod ratios for rpm.

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