Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Barber Motorsports Park, Kentucky Speedway to host Indy Racing League Open Tests in 2010
2. Changes announced at Winter meetings
3. Coyne partners with Boy Scouts
1. Barber Motorsports Park, Kentucky Speedway to host Indy Racing League Open Tests in 2010: IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams will have two Open testing periods during the 2010 season beginning with a preseason Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park next month.
The Barber Motorsports Park Open Test, slated for Feb. 24-26, will be the only Open Test conducted prior to the start of the 2010 season. It marks the second-straight season that both IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams will conduct an Open Test at the scenic Alabama road course.
"The way the 2010 schedule falls allowed for the opportunity for our teams to focus their preseason plans on the road and street course events to open the season," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the Indy Racing League. "By shifting the oval testing portion to in-season Open Test dates, teams have the option of keeping their equipment in road-course trim until they are ready to focus on the oval portion of the schedule, including the month of May at Indianapolis."
The first four races for IZOD IndyCar Series and first three Firestone Indy Lights races will be contested on road/street courses, including the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 11 at the 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Ala.
The Open test at Barber Motorsports Park will be the third time the IZOD IndyCar Series has held an Open test in Alabama. Seven drivers tested at the facility in October 2007 and both series hosted their preseason road course Open Test at the track last March.
"We are honored to have the Indy Racing League in Birmingham for the Open Test, which will be a prelude to the inaugural event in April," said Gene Hallman, President of Zoom Motorsports, the exclusive event promoter of Barber Motorsports Park. "The Open Test will allow the drivers additional experience on the finest road course in North America."
An in-season oval testing day for IZOD IndyCar Series teams is scheduled for the 1.5-mile oval at Kentucky Speedway on May 4. Firestone Indy Lights rookies will join IZOD IndyCar Series teams for their rookie oval orientation program at Kentucky Speedway on May 3.
IZOD IndyCar Series teams are allowed up to six private testing days and a minimum of 800 miles testing depending on the number of full-time cars fielded by the team, in addition to the three Open Test dates. Teams can earn an additional 300 bonus testing miles by testing a Firestone Indy Lights driver at least 600 miles for a maximum of three private test days.
The IZOD IndyCar Series season opens March 14 with its first race in South America -- on the streets of vibrant Sao Paulo, Brazil -- while the initial race for Firestone Indy Lights is March 28 on the picturesque St. Petersburg, Fla., street circuit.
Open Test Schedule
Barber Motorsports Park
Tuesday, Feb. 23 IZOD IndyCar Series Photo/Video Day
Wednesday, Feb. 24 IZOD IndyCar Series
Thursday, Feb. 25 IZOD IndyCar Series
Friday, Feb. 26 Firestone Indy Lights
Monday, May 3 Firestone Indy Lights
Tuesday, May 4 IZOD IndyCar Series
2. Changes announced at Winter meetings: More than 250 IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers and team representatives descended on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Jan. 12 for the Indy Racing League's annual winter meeting and preseason physicals.
Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the sanctioning Indy Racing League, announced several changes to IZOD IndyCar Series cars for the 2010 season during the meeting while other various sanctioning body departments, manufacturers and partners presented updates.
Changes announced for 2010 include removal of the four-position fuel mixture switch from the cars. The Honda overtake assist system will remain and receive almost a doubling of horsepower boost.
The Honda overtake assist was added for the race at Kentucky Speedway in August 2009 and carried through the remainder of the season on ovals and road courses. It provides drivers a boost in horsepower and RPMs for a predetermined number of uses and durations by activating a button on the steering wheel.
"Teams and drivers can still save fuel because they can develop their own fuel strategy, but instead of having a mechanical device to achieve it they can use their right foot," Indy Racing League senior technical director Les Mactaggart said. "It will allow the drivers more strategy during the event. If they want to save fuel they can by controlling the throttle and equally so the overtake assist will be more effective because they'll have more horsepower. The strategy really is to try to give the drivers more choice."
From a technical perspective, there aren't any issues, according to Honda Performance Development technical division manager Roger Griffiths. The "yellow" position will remain - to be used during caution periods if the driver chooses.
A reverse gear supplied by promotional partner Xtrac will be incorporated in cars for the nine road and street course races and be available to drivers through the paddle shift system. Drivers will retain six forward gears, and the kit won't be required for the eight oval events.
"We've been making updates every year (changing gear size, adding the paddle shift system) and it just happened to be the right time to put the gear in the car," IZOD IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch said. "It doesn't make any of the parts obsolete; you just add the new kit. It's on the drop gear side, so when the crew is making gear changes it doesn't interfere. It just stays in the car the whole time."
Additionally, a "floating back" headrest configuration that has been researched and tested by Indy Racing League director of engineering Jeff Horton was recommended for implementation by teams.
Horton developed the "floating back" to curb the disparity in G forces between the car and head in rearward crashes. The Kevlar skin of the headrest is attached to the front of the foam and the sides are allowed to float, "so the driver only feels the effect of the foam during impact," according to Horton.
Teams will realize a dollar savings through decreases in the Honda engine full-season and Indianapolis 500-only lease programs.
A lease for the 17-race season has been reduced $27,000 to $935,000 ($15,000 lease and removal of $12,000 shipping fee) - about half of the 2005 lease program cost. For the Indianapolis 500, Griffiths said: "We're still offering a variety of options, but the basic price for an Indy-only team is $150,000. Last year it was $225,000." The package includes 800 miles of practice and qualifications, Miller Lite Carb Day and the race. A fresh engine for Miller Lite Carb Day and the race will be available for $60,000.
A "short Indy" program - commencing Thursday, May 20, two days before qualifications - will be offered for $90,000. It includes 500 miles of practice and qualifying, with the engine carried over to Miller Lite Carb Day and the race.
3. Coyne partners with Boy Scouts: The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Dale Coyne Racing (DCR) announced that the two legendary organizations are teaming up to promote family fun and education through a new BSA IndyCar. Scouts can experience the BSA's No. 19 IndyCar throughout the 17-race IndyCar® Series 2010 schedule of events including the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500.
"It's the ultimate Pinewood Derby," said Dale Coyne, a former scout "with the Rainbow Council in Joliet, Ill.," who noted that he's seeking primary sponsorship for the No. 19 entry. Coyne said announcements regarding the entire team program for 2010 (multiple cars and drivers) will be announced soon.
With 2.8 million youth members, 1.3 million adult volunteers and almost 50 million alumni, there will be considerable more viewers of the race team and IZOD IndyCar Series. Twenty-two members of Congress were Eagle Scouts.
The No. 19 car will help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the BSA - the nation's largest youth service organization. The BSA and DCR plan to utilize the high-tech nature of Indy cars as a platform to promote science, technology and math to those involved in Scouting. Through the IndyCar program Scouts and volunteers will have fun and exciting at-track participation opportunities through out the year. The Boy Scouts and Coyne Racing collaboration provides an unparalleled opportunity to reach out to America's youth with a strong emphases on science, technology, engineering, and math.
"This is the first time that we're aware on a national scale that the Boy Scouts of America have wrapped their arms around a sport of any kind," Coyne said. "I think it's a unique platform; it's been a lot of fun what we've done this past year having scouts at several races.
"It's truly the ultimate engineering exercise what we do with these IndyCars, with the initiative that scouting and companies are pushing forward with their math and science program this will provide a cool way for kids to explore and expand their abilities in this field. There's a need in this country for future engineers, and we will have many initiatives to have kids to have fun, but explore the science of racing. We look forward to this being a very long relationship with many facets to explore and expand in the coming years.
"This is a program with true heart -- from watching a young boy's first Pinewood Derby to helping him learn and apply the disciplines of science and technology using the excitement of IndyCar. The message we will convey is the significance of education and the value of preparing for a rapidly advancing high-tech world."