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  • Engine coolant

    What do Indy cars use as engine coolant?

    I've heard antifreeze is banned by at least some racing organizations since it is rather slippery and only plain water is allowed.

  • #2
    Originally posted by uh_clem View Post
    What do Indy cars use as engine coolant?

    I've heard antifreeze is banned by at least some racing organizations since it is rather slippery and only plain water is allowed.
    Water. Antifreeze is basically universally banned in auto racing as it makes for a difficult cleanup and there's no reason to use it anyway. As a side note a vintage car apparently was using it the day before last year's 500 and made a huge mess off of the second turn. There was still dust from the cleanup visible when the 500 was started the next day.

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    • #3
      Water is better able to remove heat than an antifreeze/water mix so unless you are racing at temps below freezing, there is no reason to use antifreeze.

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      • #4
        Do they ever mix in corrosion inhibitors or lubricants with the water?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by indyrjc View Post

          Water. Antifreeze is basically universally banned in auto racing as it makes for a difficult cleanup and there's no reason to use it anyway. As a side note a vintage car apparently was using it the day before last year's 500 and made a huge mess off of the second turn. There was still dust from the cleanup visible when the 500 was started the next day.
          Stole my thunder. Yeah water will just disappear given enough time, heat and kitty litter while coolant makes it a more messy affair.

          I think the driver in that wreck you mentioned got hurt pretty good although I never did hear anything about him after that weekend. Helluva a hit as I recall.
          Live like Dave

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          • #6
            Originally posted by uh_clem View Post
            Do they ever mix in corrosion inhibitors or lubricants with the water?
            Yes they do. Both engine suppliers require it.

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            • #7
              IndyCar coolant is distilled water, with a bit of 'water wetter' which usually includes the corrosion inhibitor.

              IIRC, the 'wetter' varies.
              Bardahl, Water Wetter, SynMax Water Kooler, SAFE RACE

              A bit dated, but...
              BAN SHREDDED CHEESE! MAKE AMERICA GRATE AGAIN!

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              • #8
                Thanks for the replies. Always interested in learning more about Indy cars.

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                • #9
                  Some engine builders prefer plain water because it absorbs heat better.

                  Other engine builders prefer an antifreeze mix because they believe the reduced surface tension helps cooling.

                  We always used plain water because we were cheap.

                  As for cleaning up an antifreeze spill on pavement: nothing beats water, especially if it's boiling hot.
                  "It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny." - James Fenimore Cooper

                  "One man with courage is a majority." - Thomas Jefferson

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KenK View Post
                    Other engine builders prefer an antifreeze mix because they believe the reduced surface tension helps cooling.
                    As mentioned at the outset, most sanctioning bodies have strict rules against the use of ethylene glycol (antifreeze). Any surface tension concerns are addressed by the use of Water Wetter or the like.

                    "I would really like to go to NASCAR. I really enjoy NASCAR and if I could be there in a couple of years that's where I'd want to be." - Jeff Gordon (after testing a Formula Super Vee)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KenK View Post
                      Some engine builders prefer plain water because it absorbs heat better.

                      Other engine builders prefer an antifreeze mix because they believe the reduced surface tension helps cooling.

                      We always used plain water because we were cheap.

                      As for cleaning up an antifreeze spill on pavement: nothing beats water, especially if it's boiling hot.
                      https://rehermorrison.com/tech-talk-55-keeping-cool/
                      BAN SHREDDED CHEESE! MAKE AMERICA GRATE AGAIN!

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                      • #12
                        Now that I think about it, the late Harold Elliot was the only well-known engine builder who I remember advocating for antifreeze.
                        He mentioned it in an issue of Circle Track when he was working for Blue Max Racing. I think the article was about the time
                        Rusty Wallace won the NASCAR Cup Championship, 1989. Elliot left Blue Max after the 1989 season.

                        I believe Water Wetter was a new product in 1989, so he probably had not used it at the time of the article.
                        "It is a besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which masses of men exhibit their tyranny." - James Fenimore Cooper

                        "One man with courage is a majority." - Thomas Jefferson

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