The RACER Mailbag, May 25

The RACER Mailbag, May 25

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, May 25


Q: Why were no cooling fans used to cool the cars (as in F1) between IndyCar pole qualifying sessions? Did cruising around behind the pace car really help that much?

J R Hannon

MP: I’m sure I heard the various cooling fans blowing, so I’d be surprised if every team stopped doing what they do to cool the car every time they return to pit lane. Yes, the laps really helped to cool that much. The fastest front row in history was produced, which wouldn’t have been possible if the cooling measures were inadequate.

Q: I like when I know the names of the crew and not just the driver. These guys are as important as the drivers in my opinion ,and it’s always interesting to see when they make moves or switch drivers/teams. Could we get a list of the crew chiefs and engineers for all 33 cars this year? I remember years ago they used to list the crew chiefs somewhere. But that was probably before engineers existed!

Steve, Indianapolis

MP: I’m with you here, Steve. I’ve often done those lists with race engineers and crew chiefs, but just haven’t had the time so far this year. If I can, I will. As an aside, engineers have always existed — they were just called car chiefs, crew chiefs, or chief mechanics before the role was spun out into a dedicated job.

Q: After Scott Dixon set the second-fastest pole speed ever at Indy, the thought occurred to me that it may have been the fastest lap ever for a car under 1,000 horsepower. Quite an achievement when you consider the cars are heavier than they used to be. And the center of gravity is higher with the addition of the aeroscreen. These drivers, engineers, and manufacturers like Dallara have really achieved a lot considering the parameters they work in. Just a little food for thought.


MP: That’s a great call, Don. Between 1994’s The Beast and all the thermonuclear Buick turbos from the 1990s, the big lap speeds were certainly made possible by giant power. Running over 230mph with ease, while lacking 25 percent of the horsepower (or more) tells you a lot about the aero efficiency we have today and the quality of Firestone’s tires.

Q: Nothing against a solid driver in an undercooked program here, but I can’t find the prop bet on Caesar’s Sportsbook so I guess I’ll have to propose it here. Over/under on how many laps before Stef Wilson has “electrical problems” and parks this thing he’s spent about 20 minutes in all month? I say seven. At the very least we don’t make it to the first pit stop. In all seriousness, if he’s running around in the back all day, does Larry at some point say, “Enough already. I want my car back in one piece”?

Ryan, Point Pleasant, NJ

MP: They ran strong on Monday with 88 laps turned — nearly half a race distance — and were right behind Foyt’s JR Hildebrand in P28 and ahead of two-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya. Of the four Foyt-owned cars, Wilson was second, so I’m not concerned. If anything, I’m impressed.

Maybe Fernando Alonso just liked the way his car looked better in 2017? Scott LePage/Motorsport Images

Q: RACER published a story about Fernando Alonso last week in which Alonso said the aeroscreen made his return to the Indy 500 less likely. He said, “In 2017, there were a lot of overtaking, and I loved that race. There was a little bit less love in the last couple of years when you cannot overtake.”

This seems dubious to me. In the 2021 Indy 500, there were 361 overtakes made, and in this month’s weekend’s Indy Grand Prix, it seemed that there was a ton of passing. Are these anomalies? Is Alonso right or wrong about this?

LA IndyCar fan

MP: I’ve been a fan of Alonso’s since he was with Minardi, but the topic of “Fernando complains about something” is one to expect on a regular basis.

Q: Why is the pit wall so low at Indianapolis? Watching the shots of Dixon’s wife, you could actually see him fly by and if she wanted, she could have reached over and touched the track he was driving on! It seems like an unnecessary hazard, because what happens if we have a crash on the front straight and a car flies through the air or debris ends up where the teams are? I know R.P. has a lot of jobs on his IMS to-do list, but re-erecting the kind of wall/fencing that was in place when the MotoGP bikes were here seems obvious to me.

Jordan, Warwickshire, UK

MP: It’s not actually all that low; there’s a trench that runs between the straight and pit lane and while standing in there, it’s deep. Pit lane, however, is somewhat elevated, which is what you’re seeing.

I hear what you’re saying, but I like it the way it is.