The RACER Mailbag, November 9

The RACER Mailbag, November 9

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, November 9

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Q: I hear much groaning about IndyCar having two road course races at IMS every year. I always attend one or the other but could be persuaded to attend both. I think what would be unique, garner much press and make it worthy of two events is to run the track in opposite direction for one of the races. We also know if there is a venue on the schedule where the pits are OK in either direction, it is IMS.

The series has just kept improving, the level of talent is at what I believe is an all-time high regardless of its past forms. FWIW I’m willing to sign a waiver to attend both road course events and the 500 and take full blame if it just turns out to be a dud. This with the caveat that if it is a success and the word in the paddock is “why didn’t we do this sooner?” the CCW race bears my name. Yes and the CCW race must be 80 laps.

JamBo

MP: Adding an Indy road course race to the May calendar back in 2014 made sense because it was an extremely low-cost event filler to replace the Brazilian GP which fell off the schedule after 2013. With Brazil serving as the pre-Indy 500 event, the timing of swapping the Sao Paulo street course for the Indy road course ticked every box: No pain-in-the-ass logistics and shipping right before the 500, plus no long travel for the crews, which allowed everyone more time in the shop to prepare for the 500.

Adding a second Indy RC race was done as a COVID-inspired event filler, and since the schedule has returned to normal, I hope the unloved Indy GP II disappears as quickly as possible. If there’s a bare minimum of fan enthusiasm for the May race, the second one is DOA. Bless your heart for being willing to sign up for both.

Q: You all do a great job with the Mailbag! It’s nice to be able to keep up with IndyCar during the off-season. Have you heard anything concerning the 2023 plans for Stefan Wilson and Cusick Motorsports? I read, I believe on Twitter, that they are certain to be in next year’s Indy 500, and they might possibly go full-time. It sounds as if they have the funding. Could they possibly partner with Juncos Hollinger Racing or A.J. Foyt Racing?

I do hope that something materializes for them, at least for the 500. I’m a big fan of Stefan. He would be a nice addition to the series full-time. Don Cusick seems to be very passionate about getting involved in IndyCar, and I read he has ties to The Thermal Club, where IndyCar will have Spring Training in February. Any information would be appreciated!

Billy Josephson, Panama City Beach, FL

MP: Well, that’s kind of you to say, Billy. I rarely file the Mailbag feeling like I’ve done a great job, so I’ll take your word on it. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be charging my video camera and microphones and packing them for a day trip to Palm Springs next week to visit the Thermal track and cover Cusick’s Indy 500 announcement.

Don Cusick is a throwback; loves IndyCar and is willing to put his own money behind his involvement. There was a goal to buy a car and do a part-time program outside of the 500, but I haven’t heard about that happening for 2023. If all goes well during my day trip, we’ll have some in-car footage and narration of the track configuration IndyCar will use for Spring Training.

Wilson and Cusick are aiming to be back in the game next May. Motorsport Images

Q: Let’s assume I’m in a dream and thinking anything is possible. On December 1, IndyCar announces that for the 2023 Indy 500 you can run any powerplant that you could get into the current chassis. Is there anything out there that might be technically feasible, somewhat affordable and relative easy to adapt? What would you do if I gave you a blank check and five months to get after it? Would it really be that challenging?

Now I’ll wake up and go about my day.

Rick Navratil, Glendale, AZ

MP: Lots of great possibilities out there, Rick, but there’s one unique thing to consider. With IndyCar’s current V6 formula, the car is designed and engineered around a rather tiny motor that’s shorter from front to back than anything readily found in the CART, Champ Car, or IRL days.

My first thought was to ring Cosworth and get a 800-1000hp 2.65L single-turbo V8 motor, but it wouldn’t be affordable or easy to adapt because it would make the back of the car — starting at the rear bulkhead — longer. That means a new floor would be required that’s longer, plus, a decent amount of packaging work to fit the turbo behind the motor in the bellhousing would be a must. Honda did that with its single turbo from 2012-13 in the DW12, but it’s not a plug-and-play solution here. The height of your average CART turbo V8 would also necessitate a new engine cover and modifications to the sidepods.

So, the only small-size/big-power solution I can think of would be a turbo four-cylinder Offy, and if you don’t mind it needing to make 72 pit stops for fuel, and you can keep it from ventilating itself for 500 miles, there’s four-digit power that might drop right into a DW12.

Q: Scott McLaughlin recently flew to Australia to attend the Gold Coast 500 at the Surfers Paradise street circuit. His former rival and fellow Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen won both races and proceeded to do a burnout in front of McLaughlin.

With the dominance of SVG in Supercars, their fans and some in the Supercars circle have been lamenting the loss of Scott McLaughlin to IndyCar. They are saying the dominance of SVG is attributed to the move of McLaughlin to IndyCar and the retirement of Jamie Whincup.

With McLaughlin having signed a multi-year extension this fall with Penske’s IndyCar outfit, a return to Supercars anytime soon is unlikely. So I was thinking of an interesting prospect, one which McLaughlin himself as spoken of: SVG in IndyCars. McLaughlin has stated he would like to see his former rival SVG in IndyCar. At 6’2″ some have said SVG is too tall for IndyCar, but I will remind the naysayers that the late Justin Wilson was even taller at 6’4″.

I think it would be an interesting storyline if an IndyCar team gave SVG a test with the possibility of racing in the series full-time. Fanciful thinking?

Ken, Thunder Bay, ON

MP: Yes, we discussed this a few weeks back in the Mailbag. It’s not Shane’s height but his width at the shoulders that makes his fit a question until he gives it a try. I’d love to hear about an IndyCar team giving Shane a run, right after I hear about a team giving 2022 Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist a test and race seat.

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