CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Penske begins testing

Marlboro Team Penske will have their first test in preparation for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Season today and tomorrow (December 5-6) at Sebring Raceway. Helio Castroneves will pilot the 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard during the two-day...

Marlboro Team Penske will have their first test in preparation for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Season today and tomorrow (December 5-6) at Sebring Raceway. Helio Castroneves will pilot the 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard during the two-day outing at the 1.660-mile road course in Sebring, Florida.

According to Team Manager Tom Wurtz, there was a week's worth of preparation done to the car before it left the Penske Racing shop in Reading, PA on Saturday night for the 1,100-mile journey to Sebring. By the time the car takes its first test lap there will have been more than 20 team members working on it for a total of 1500 man hours.

Marlboro Team Penske received their first Reynard 01I chassis on Sunday, November 26th. The following outlines the many steps that the Team goes through before the car is ready to depart for its first test.

A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF A RACE CAR

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26th
The car arrives at the Penske Racing Shop in Reading. It is shipped as a "roller" which means it can roll right off the palette onto the garage floor. The car is completely assembled including tires and it comes with 80% of its components in tact with the exception of the engine. Due to a short supply of 2001 specification engines, the car is shipped with a tube frame in place of the engine.

The car is left assembled overnight while the paint shop lays out the lines for the paint scheme.

A team of three electrical engineers evaluates the new wiring scheme and plans the sensor lay-out for 2001.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 27th
The car is completely dismantled and the chassis is sent to the paint shop for painting. There are three painters who spend at least 120 man hours painting the entire car.

A team of five mechanics checks over all the components of the car - suspension, uprights, bearings, etc. - for reliability and fitting. (During the season, the car is also taken apart following every race to check for wearing and reliability.)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28th The fuel cells are cleaned, re-plumbed and new filters are fitted.

Two mechanics are assigned to completely disassemble, clean and re-assemble the gear box with the appropriate gear ratios and differential settings for Sebring.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29th
The mechanics completely reassemble the car to a specific configuration that is determined by Penske's race engineers.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30th
A group of six engineers arrive from Honda to observe the installation of the 2001 specification engine.

A vast number of engine sensors, which monitor every foreseeable temperature and pressure throughout the car's system, are installed for the initial running of the engine at Sebring.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1st
The engineers check the calibration of the various sensors prior to the engine start-up.

The initial engine start up is completed at the end of the day ensuring that all systems are functional.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2nd
The painting of the bodywork is completed, the sponsor decals are applied and the car is reassembled for the trip to Sebring.

The car is placed on the set-up pad to ensure proper suspension settings and that the aerodynamic load cells are calibrated correctly.

The car and appropriate equipment are loaded onto the transporter and it departs for Sebring.

DE FERRAN NOMINATED FOR ESPY AWARD
Marlboro Team Penske driver and 2000 CART FedEx World Series Champion Gil de Ferran, has been named as a finalist in the Driver of the Year category for the ninth annual ESPY Awards taking place in Las Vegas on February 12, 2001. De Ferran's fellow nominees include NASCAR Champion Bobby Labonte, IRL Champion Buddy Lazier and NHRA Funny Car Champion John Force.

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