The RACER Mailbag, February 23

The RACER Mailbag, February 23

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, February 23

By ,

Q: 1. Thanks for IndyCar’s hybrid-electric (KERS) planning information.
2. Will the proposed IndyCar electric motors be powering the front or rear wheels?
3. The IndyCar racers previously indicated they do not like using a push-to-pass method of implementing hybrid electricity. What is the current concept for IndyCar to deploy the harvested electricity?
4. I currently drive a Ford hybrid-electric. It integrates using the throttle pedal to command when electricity is harvested and deployed. Furthermore, the shift lever is used to command how aggressively electrons are gathered and deployed. What is the related IndyCar concept for controlling harvesting and deployment of electrical propulsion?
5. It’s suggested the current push-to-pass system be kept as currently implemented with the combustion engine.
6. Controlling the electrical harvesting and deployment of electrons should be separate from push-to-pass control of the turbocharger. How is IndyCar planning to control the copied KERS functionality?
7. FYI, Ferrari has torque vectoring to assist with vehicle directional control.
8. Since the original mission of IMS was to experiment with and showcase evolving automotive vehicle technology, it is (strongly!) suggested that IndyCar consider adding torque vector steering augmentation when it implements hybrid electricity. Now that would be automotive news (in keeping with the mission and function of IMS)!
9. Small individual (unsprung) electric generator/motors could be added to the front of IndyCars (maintaining a reasonable front-to-back vehicle weight distribution) while the traditional push-to-pass combustion engine augmentation remains as currently configured to the rear wheels.
10. Thanks for your ongoing IndyCar technical news. Us gearheads appreciate your technical coverage. Please share my compliment with Pfanner & thank him for his great magazine and staff!
11. I too, miss Robin Miller. Send a note of love and thoughts to his sister. Can we still make blood donations, to help repay for that cost? My blood bank needs to know how to identify that account.

Bill in CA

MP:1. You’re welcome.
2. Rear-wheel drive.
3. Not true. They didn’t like its use during a test at the Speedway where P2P was tried. P2P is the plan for ERS deployment, but like everything about the 2023 project, it’s subject to change.
4. I wrote about what I know on this subject at length in the latest issue of RACER magazine. Well worth buying a print copy or downloading the digital version.
5. Yes.
6. Turbo P2P is meant to be replaced by ERS P2P.
7. OK.
8. OK.
9. Could? Yes. Will? Not a chance.
10. You’re welcome once more.
11. People are always able to donate blood and can do so in honor of whomever they choose. There’s no “Robin Miller account” to be credited for such donations.

Q: When did the podium for the top three finishers in IndyCar, or F1 for that matter, become a thing? I remember when only the winner of a race got celebrated. The second and third finishers were just the the first and second losers. Is it to appease sponsors, or just a way to add to the show?

Greg, Mt. Prospect, Il

MP: It’s the only thing I’ve known for IndyCar since I was a kid growing up in the ’70s, with the superspeedways as the regular exception where the winner is the sole focus of the celebrations. I’ve seen gorgeous F1 podium shots from the 1960s as well where the top three were featured, so if anything, it’s a really old tradition, and not exactly an oddity. Haven’t the Olympics been doing a three-person podium forever?

Not sure this is an official multi-driver podium, but second-placed Nino Farina joined Alberto Ascari on the German GP podium in 1952 after the pair led a Ferrari 1-2-3-4 in the race, and Ascari became the first driver to seal the championship with two races to go. They look stoked. Motorsport Images

Q: Grosjean jokingly suggested racing ovals at a doubleheader on day two in the opposite direction. I know the cars are set up to turn left, but it seems like an interesting idea. Is it at all feasible as an interesting added attraction?

Oliver Wells.

MP: I’d think the counter-clockwise layout where SAFER barrier placement and the rest of the safety infrastructure is designed for cars turning left, rather than right, is where the idea comes to a swift end.

Q: I wanted to follow up on last week’s letter from Heather Streets about Peacock coverage of IMSA, particularly when she mentioned “the amount of dead air for the commercial breaks.”

A couple of years back, the World Challenge races were streamed live while at the same time, they were creating a program for broadcast on a one week delay. Greg Creamer and Calvin Fish understood they had a dual purpose, and after sending their broadcast into a commercial break, they would take a brief pause and say, “And for our live audience…” and return to commenting on the action happening during the break, which was not going to be a part of their TV broadcast in a week. It was really well done too, as they could throw out facts for diehards, have a little more freedom with their comments and joke around a bit. Then when the time was right, they’d come out of their commercial break and return to crafting their broadcast show.

I’ve heard many people say they enjoy hearing the ambient sounds on Peacock during the commercial breaks, but I lost count of how many times something of real significance would happen while the commentary team had gone silent. Overall or class leading cars pitting, having flat tires, spinning, crashing or passes for the overall lead.

There’s no reason for them to have to stay so silent for so long, especially during a Michelin Pilot Challenge race. The silence ends up being such a large percentage of the event. I’m sure they need to shut off their mics and have an off air production meeting about what they are going to talk about when they come out of the commercial break, but once that’s done, I’d really like for them to return to the commentary Creamer/Fish style, or at least have the freedom to speak up when something is worth talking about.

During the NBC Gold era, this happened one time – during the Road Atlanta 6 Hours held in September when A.J. Allmendinger was a part of the team. And it was great! Race commentary, off the cuff remarks, jokes, interesting facts and stories. I suspect A.J. couldn’t stop talking or didn’t know about the blackout period when they were traveling around the dark side of the commercial breaks.

So, with the push by NBC to have fans watch their Peacock broadcasts, I don’t understand why we don’t count enough to have them take us into account when the race is happening by telling us what is going on, particularly when it has major significance to the race and how its strategy is playing out.

Jeff Barak, Minneapolis, MN

MP: Good to hear from you, Jeff. Hope to see you and more of your homemade racing shirts at Road America. If we’re down to complaining about how we don’t get live commentary during live commercial breaks on a streaming platform, holy cow, we’ve come a long way from the Mailbag being loaded with hate mail about Eddie Cheever putting people to sleep during the broadcasts.

What can I say? NBC has had a policy for a while now to pipe down during the commercial breaks. When I was doing a number of the Indy Lights broadcasts a few years ago, I made the mistake at Road America of saying something to one of my co-hosts during a commercial and was both reminded to be quiet and got a few inbound Tweets from people who were catching the NBC Gold stream who caught my mistake. It’s how they want things done, so that’s how it’s done. And if that’s the worst thing about today’s broadcasts, we are living in amazing times.