CART's Champ Cars will break new ground this weekend while celebrating history, as they will race under the lights at the Milwaukee Mile. Milwaukee is celebrating its 100th anniversary of racing on The Mile, but this will be the first ever night...
CART's Champ Cars will break new ground this weekend while celebrating history, as they will race under the lights at the Milwaukee Mile. Milwaukee is celebrating its 100th anniversary of racing on The Mile, but this will be the first ever night race at the historic oval. This will also be the first night race in the history of CART's premier series and the first lighted race for many of the competitors.
Racetrack lighting experts Musco Lighting will bring 15 of their Musco-Light temporary lighting trucks to Milwaukee to illuminate the racing surface and will supplement that with five smaller units for the pit lane. Each of the Musco-Light trucks contains 15 lamps of 6000 watts per lamp, each lamp individually adjustable by remote control. The trucks are completely self-contained, including generating their own power.
While Musco has provided permanent lighting for many US racetracks, they have used these temporary units to light many major sporting events, including Super Bowls and Olympic competitions. They also provided the lighting for the nighttime rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center tragedy.
The lights will be on Thursday night for the day's second Champ Car practice session, with qualifying on Friday night and the Milwaukee Mile 250 at 8pm (CDT) on Saturday night. Also on the card for the weekend, but racing earlier in the evening, will be CART's Ladder Series races for the Toyota Atlantic Championship and the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
The Champ Cars are expected to put on a thrilling race, as they are returning to an aerodynamic configuration that provided great racing in the past at Milwaukee. Instead of the low-downforce oval setup that forced the Champ Cars into a single-file parade in recent trips to The Mile, the cars will use the big road course style wings that should allow the cars to run side-by-side. Where the previous setup punished any driver who tried to make a pass with a slide - or worse - the high-grip package should allow drivers to be more aggressive - a recipe for great racing on the fast one-mile oval.
The most recent winner on the Champ Car circuit, Sebastien Bourdais, will meet another new challenge, competing in his first night race and racing for the first time on a small oval. Since he won in his first attempt at an oval event three weeks ago in Germany, he might do well here too. Many of the other rookies in the field will also be learning as they go, except for Atlantic series graduates Rodolfo Lavin and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay dominated the Atlantic round here in 2002 until his car's engine let him down mid-race. The Champ Car rookie field will be short one competitor this round after veteran Gualter Salles was named this week to replace Alex Yoong in Dale Coyne's Lola.
A big concern for the drivers and teams this weekend will be the weather. The climate in Eastern Wisconsin allows for very changeable weather in late spring and the current forecast includes sun, rain and even cold temperatures for this weekend's racing. As Champ Car owner/driver Adrian Fernandez remarked in today's CART teleconference: "I see more of a problem, not problem but just for the driver to get used to it basically running in cold conditions. There's a little bit in the weather forecast that we may be under low 50s, and that's the only thing. So my girlfriend was giving me the bottled water on the pits; she's going to give me hot chocolate!"
The Milwaukee Mile 250 will be televised live on SPEED Channel at 9:00 pm, with qualifying shown on Friday at 9:30 pm. Visit Motorsport.com for full coverage of the weekend's events.