DETROIT (May 5, 2000) - Veteran Dayton Indy Lights Championship driver Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lola) and PacWest Racing Group engineer Chris Coxon will be among the featured guests at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair...
DETROIT (May 5, 2000) - Veteran Dayton Indy Lights Championship driver Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lola) and PacWest Racing Group engineer Chris Coxon will be among the featured guests at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) that begins this weekend at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.
Founded by Science Service in 1950, the Intel ISEF is the world's premier science and engineering competition for high school-aged students from around the globe. Over 1,200 student finalists from 48 states and 40 nations will gather in Detroit to compete for scholarships, tuition grants, internships and scientific field trips. The Intel ISEF will also award a grand prize trip to the Nobel Prize Ceremonies in Stockholm, Sweden later this year.
Renna, 22, and Coxon will visit with Intel ISEF attendees twice at the beginning of the week-long event to discuss the emergence of science and engineering technology in modern-day motorsports. Students will have the opportunity to informally meet Renna and Coxon Sunday at 8 p.m. during the Student Exchange dinner in addition to participating in a ShopTalk discussion Monday morning at 10 a.m. The ShopTalk program, which will be moderated by Indy Lights Vice President of Technical Operations Gary Donahoe, will provide a brief overview of the engineering-related aspects of competition in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship. Renna will address the importance of the driver/engineer relationship while Coxon will share with students computerized data download procedures and how that information can be used to increase race car and driver performance. The ShopTalk session will also include a question-and-answer segment.
"I am looking forward to attending the Intel ISEF because it is important for science and engineering students to realize that motorsports offers a viable career choice," said Renna who won the 1998 Dayton Indy Lights race at Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. "I also believe that these students will be able to relate to the development aspects of Indy Lights because we are essentially students, just like them. The fact that we have a lot in common on the technology front, however, is one of the main points I want to get across."
The top series in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) "Ladder System" of driver development, the Dayton Indy Lights Championship is designed to produce driver and team talent for the premier FedEx Championship Series Champ Car division. Indy Lights race cars are only 10% smaller than the Champ Cars they resemble and can reach a top speed of more than 190 mph.
A key element of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship, however, is a rules formula designed to keep the competition close and the racing exciting. A "spec" (short for specification) series, Indy Lights places an emphasis on driver skill and team preparation through the use of identical equipment. Teams own the series-standard Lola T97/20 chassis but the non-turbocharged V6 engines are leased from the series. To further equalize the competition, the motors are sealed and team modifications are not permitted. Aerodynamics and suspension tuning are the only areas where prescribed adjustments are permitted, which places an emphasis on each team's engineering personnel.
"Indy Lights in particular will be a good way of introducing motorsports to these students because their chosen area of study - science and engineering - is so critical in that series," said Coxon. "Teams can't modify the Indy Lights race cars and you can't even touch the engines so that means any advantage has to be gained through aerodynamic and suspension settings, which is the main area of focus for engineers."
Coxon, 28, is in his second year with PacWest and formerly worked with the Team Green Indy Lights team, one of PacWest's rivals for the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
Renna debuted in Indy Lights in 1998 and is in his first full year with PacWest. He debuted with the team a year ago at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis. where he qualified second, led the first 38 race laps and finished third.
Donahoe is in charge of all technical-related areas for the Dayton Indy Lights Championship, a position he has held since 1998.