The RACER Mailbag, December 29

The RACER Mailbag, December 29

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, December 29


Q: I seriously don’t understand the constant yearning for anything from any racing series that’s at least 20 years old. Do we forget that not everything was better, just because it was there? I can somewhat understand and sympathize with racing fans who aren’t technically minded, or who are just getting into a particular racing series.

However, I am constantly reading comments on articles, YouTube videos (the most toxic comment section on earth) and here in the Mailbag about how F1 was just better because of the V10s. (ED: It was). Or how IndyCar used to be better because there were different chassis manufacturers. Or that top speeds were higher “back in the day.” As well as ridiculous, mindless “ideas” by people who somehow believe they have all the answers, like an all-electric Indy 500 where teams don’t refuel, they swap 800lb batteries every five laps, yet they work at a restaurant cooking omelettes or at a call center, calling to inform you that your warranty will soon expire causing your vehicle to spontaneously combust at any moment.

Point being, the vast majority of those folks couldn’t even tell you what the purpose of a wastegate is, and would explain that an intercooler is a device that sits inside the chassis to cool the driver’s HANS device.

In the spirit of the know-it-all yearners of yesteryear, I would like to propose the greatest racing car ever, of which some variant shall be utilized in every racing series from rallycross to the Dakar to IMSA to F1 and, of course, IndyCar.

The chassis is to be constructed from a mix of carbon fiber, fiber optic cable, fiberglass and the kind of fiber found in various bowel movement products. They are to be built by Lotus, because ground effect is the holy buzzword of racing, and shall all resemble the Ekranoplan, aka the Caspian Sea Monster “because, again, GROUND EFFECT!

To stop people complaining about it being a “spec chassis,” each tub must be built by a random member of the NYC Plumbers Union, chosen at random by Bernie Ecclestone. All measurements shall be made by tape measure, with a tolerance of +/- 2.65 meters — an ode to the 2.65L turbo CART motors. Each car will be powered by a ‘quadruple hybrid engine, which shall consist of:

(Hybrid “Power Yoonit” component No. 1) A turbine built to the same spec as the “Wonderful Whistling Wedge” turbine-powered Indy 500 specials of 50-something years ago which drives the rear axle.

Connected via hollow, internally splined aluminum shafts to U-joints from a 1967 Ford GT40 at the front of the car, where a turbo Buick V6 welded to an Oldsmobile 4.0 V8 engine (Hybrid component No. 2) driving the front wheels through a series of sprockets, rockets, and chains. The chains will also be connected to a flywheel KERS system (Component No. 3) mounted between the drivers legs, spinning at no less than 7 million rpm and weighing no less than 56.3kg.

I’ve lost track of what this letter is about, but here’s a photo of a cool school bus at a Grand Am race in 2008. Denis Tanney/Motorsport Images

Mounted atop the rear wing, High-brid Powur Yoonit Compownet No. 4: What else but the legendary 2.65L V8 turbo engines running 5800 psi of boost with five popcorn valves connected to a fifth wheel/tire that’s mounted on the left sidepod, and engine power will be transmitted to this fifth wheel via combination of plutonium an alyoomineeumm transaxle, an 18-speed transmission lifted directly from Dale Earnhardt’s old car hauler, and finally into a 4 speed Muncie “Rock Crusher” connected to the hub via halfshafts from the last front-engined car to run at Indy.

To top off this engineering masterpiece: the Hanford Device… except it is to be mounted on the front wing, and directly in the driver’s line of sight. Upon this huge, flat barn door will be no less than eight tobacco advertisements, a photograph of Don Panoz, and a hand-written ‘BOOGITY BOOGITY BOOGITY — LET’S GO RACIN YA BUNCH OF HOT DOGS!’ by D Dubya himself.

Oh — one more thing, and the cherry on top in my opinion — every driver must change their name to either Jim Hurtubise, Milka Duno, or Dick Trickle.

During the races themselves, we will forego the track announcer, national anthem, driver intros, and any other useful information, and instead we will just pipe in the sound of the 2004 Ferrari V10 with the volume set at 11.

Before the race, we will have whoever won the Chili Bowl 25 years prior to the current year summon the drivers to fire up their cars. Not with the traditional “drivers, start your engines” call, but instead, in honor of that dude who walked around on Uranus, or the moon or whatever, the call to engine ignition shall be: “HELMETED BRETHEREN, COMMENCE ENERGIZATION OF ROTATION OF THE GIRDLE SPROCKET AND YOUR NEAT-O MAGNETOS!”

Oh, and in a nod to the glory days of CART, and the Greatest Race Ever Raced — the 2002 Surfers Paradise Four-Wheeled Surfers Circus — EVERY race will be exactly 40 laps, of which 34 will be run behind the pace car.

The winner of each race will be awarded 2.65 liters of carbonated milk and have their faces immortalized on the Worg-Barner trophy, which will be constructed out of compacted Lucky Strikes mixed with resin and tar.

That should please pretty much everyone, I think.

Michael Czipri

MP: Looks like someone picked the wrong week to quit sniffing …


Q: Who are the best/biggest drivers currently in the sport and why? What is their history, and why are they good?

Cook Family, MI

MP: Since the Mailbag isn’t meant to be a 40,000-page affair each week and I don’t want to ring in the New Year typing away at a keyboard, you’ll get to enjoy using’s search function to learn about following drivers through features and analysis pieces we’ve written over the years on:

Scott Dixon
Josef Newgarden
Alex Palou
Colton Herta
Pato O’Ward

By coincidence, those drivers also filled the top five in last season’s championship. If you’re interested in the biggest drivers, search for stories on Romain Grosjean and Helio Castroneves.

But seriously, part of being a fan of any sport comes with a willingness to put in the time to learn the history, and a weekly mailbag isn’t meant to replace the dozens of hours of reading about the people, teams, and tales that make the sport what it is. Happy hunting.

ED’s note: Chris Medland is on a well-earned vacation, but this week’s F1-related questions will be rolled into next week’s Mailbag.

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, December 31, 2013

Q: Hey Miller, some reader wrote under your Granatelli story that he sold you your first race car. What’s that story?
Steve Huntley

ROBIN MILLER: In 1972, my pal Art Pollard took me to Chicago to Andy’s shop so I could buy a Formula Ford that Francis McNamara had given him as a present (McNamara designed the slug that Mario drove at Indy for Granatelli in ’70 and ’71). I borrowed $5,000 from my banker buddy and just before we went inside, Art told me to put $2,000 back in my pocket and let him negotiate. Well, Andy wasn’t around so his son, Vince, handled the transaction and he wasn’t about to sell it for $3,000. I was foaming at the mouth looking at that gorgeous little day-glo orange FF sitting next to a couple of Novis, but Pollard stood firm and Vince finally agreed. Suddenly I was the proud owner of a car that wouldn’t fit in my rented trailer without the aid of a forklift because the trailer was way too skinny. Art went with me to shake it down at IRP, and just before we started it up he asked me if I’d added oil and water. “Don’t they come with oil and water?” I replied. Ah, the first sign I should have NEVER been allowed to own a race car.


MX-5 Cup | Round 6 – Mid-Ohio