CHAMPCAR/CART: Traction control approved for 2002

DETROIT (February 15, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that its Franchise Board, comprised of CART franchise owners, has voted unanimously in favor of allowing traction control for the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series and...

DETROIT (February 15, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams announced today that its Franchise Board, comprised of CART franchise owners, has voted unanimously in favor of allowing traction control for the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series and beyond.

Effective immediately, competitors will be allowed to use traction control - which is generally a function of engine electronics that is used to sense and control wheel spin.

"Traction control and the policing of this technology has become a major issue worldwide in motorsports and after its legalization in Formula One we believed we needed to work with our participating manufacturers in bringing this technology forward in the CART FedEx Championship Series," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "After several meetings with our valued manufacturer partners we have created an acceptable format for introducing traction control, and I want to personally thank Honda, Toyota and Ford for their professionalism, cooperation and flexibility.

"We have the highest level of respect for our manufacturers in that they have placed their main focus on what will make for a successful CART FedEx Championship Series in the future with this decision. This is another positive step by the CART Franchise Board that will result in competitive and fair racing for years to come."

Along with the decision to allow traction control, the engine manufacturers requested and were granted three additional manufacturer test days to assist them in their development of traction control systems. These three test days are in addition to the three days allowed each manufacturer for general testing, and will be available to the manufacturers at any time. CART will also develop a system for engine inspections, including a regular system of engine teardowns; and no additional sensors will be allowed aside from those currently permitted under CART rules.

"Achieving this decision was a cooperative process that involved all of the franchise owners and all three engine manufacturers," said CART Vice President of Racing Operations John Lopes. "By allowing the use of traction control, we are now employing in our race cars one of the high-tech safety components used in Honda, Ford and Toyota passenger cars. In addition to this, CART has agreed to dedicate resources to stepping-up its engine inspection program, in conjunction with its already restructured and growing technical inspection team under the direction of Senior Manager of Technology Steve Dickson. Steve will work with CART Director of Technology and Competiton, Lee Dykstra; as well as CART Director of Electronics, Jeff Horton, during the implementation phase of CART's traction control program."

For their part, all of CART's engine manufacturers understood the necessity of this decision.

"Honda has always been consistent in its opinion of traction control. We have worked closely with CART over the years to help enforce their rules and regulations on such electronic controls," said Honda Performance Technology General Manager, Robert Clark. "Monday's action by the Franchise Owners Board does not alter Honda's opinion. As with any rules change, the more preparation time the better, but HPD (Honda Performance Development) will redirect its development focus and reassign its engineers to address this latest change as quickly as we can."

"Our opinion is that this ruling will at least allow each of the three manufacturers to be on equal footing when it comes to traction control or variations of it," said Greg Specht, performance operations manager, Ford Racing Technology. "Clearly, this was something that CART was not able to police in the past due to the complexity of the electronic engine control systems currently used, so, short of banning electronic hook-ups to things like gear position and engine speed, this was likely the best possible solution. Between the combination of our Ford-Cosworth XF engine, which we believe has always been at the top of the game, and now this ruling on traction control, we believe you'll see a strong improvement in performance from our teams on the street and road courses in 2002."

Added Toyota Racing Development Vice President and Technical Director, Pete Spence: "Toyota has consistently been in favor of adopting traction control in CART for two reasons. First, it's impossible to police in the racing environment if it's not legal. This was proven over several seasons in Formula One, which reconfigured its regulations to make it legal again beginning in 2001. In addition, it's available in most standard Toyota street cars as a safety enhancement."

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. The 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season kicks off March 10 at Monterrey, Mexico and the 19-race schedule will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS and Fox Cable Networks Group, including Speedvision/Speed Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.CART.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Robert Clark
Teams Toyota Racing