CHAMPCAR/CART: 2007 Chassis teleconference transcript, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: The new car being 165 pounds lighter, where does that savings come from? DAVID BOWES: The current car is around 127 or 128 inches long in the wheel base. This new car will be some four or five inches shorter ...

Continued from part 1

Q: The new car being 165 pounds lighter, where does that savings come from?

DAVID BOWES: The current car is around 127 or 128 inches long in the wheel base. This new car will be some four or five inches shorter than that. Target around 123 inches wheel base. It will have a narrower track. We are thinking of reducing the track by three inches each side, but keep the side parts about the same width, because that will help to avoid some of the wheel interlocking issues that might occur at the moment.

So really the car is smaller deliberately because, as we said at the beginning, it's a nimble car. The intention is to retain its abilities and its performance and improve them on the street circuits. Having said that, we have the chance, because this is a one-make chassis series, we have the chance now to deliver, against the criteria, in a way that's aerodynamically good for racing. So what we intend to do is as follows:

We'll use the underbody in its very fullest sense to deliver the downforce requirements that have been set, more aggressive tunnels, vortex generators, rear diffusers, these can be used to deliver a lot more downforce than is currently allowed within the current regulations. That in turn allows to us reduce the size of the front and rear wing loadings. The net effect of that is to actually deliver the same or more downforce but with much more turbulent wake.

What that really means is that these guys can go quicker and they can drive closer together without having dirty air, and therefore they will be having the confidence to push that car. Therefore, this will be a driver's series.

Q: I'm thinking the end result hopefully for the series would be to increase the car counts. This is going to be a cheaper package. Do you think that will bring that result?

STEVE JOHNSON: Yeah, that's a great question. Obviously one of our goals and objectives. The answer is yes, it will increase the car counts. This package is going to be very attractive for drivers worldwide. Don't know how many, but we do know that it will increase the car counts.

Q: Was there any thought with this, with the design of this package, to tie it in with what will be the new Atlantic Series cars?

SCOT ELKINS: We basically used the same criteria in this process and as we're going through the design process for this car as the Atlantic car. The process that our technical department's going through on the Atlantic car actually is a forerunner for what we're doing with the Champ Car.

SCOTT ATHERTON: I think the enthusiasm and excitement that came about for the Atlantics, I think they're up to now 40 chassis sold and still growing, you know, we anticipate that type of a reaction to this new Panoz DPO1, as well.

Q: Have you had a chance to build a full-size prototype of this thing or are you still working with a quarter scale for the wind tunnel? Have any of the current drivers, teams, tech guys had a chance to look at this thing? What kind of reaction are you getting from them in terms of how well they think this thing is going to perform on the streets, roads, ovals, too?

DAVID BOWES: The first stage is a concept stage where we pull in all the technology that we avail ourselves of, which we know of. We pull in all our learning to apply to a concept that takes us forward. That's really where we're at right now, the concept stage. What does this car look like, weight, size, performance, aero, downforce, drag, et cetera.

The next stage is to take it into a tunnel. We'll be using a 50% wind tunnel model. We'll be pushing through a program of aerodynamic development. We'll also be using our CFD techniques, computational fluid dynamics, which will go alongside of the tunnel program. The first end result of all of that is that we intend to built a prototype chassis, which we intend to get running on the track around July of next year. One of the benefits of going this early is that we can prove out the chassis in a prototype stage before we go into full production.

The plan is that we would put a thousand kilometers of testing on the chassis in July and August of next year. In conjunction with the engine supplier and the gearbox supplier, we'd work together to prove that the systems each work and together they all work. That is a very thorough and a very robust development process. Following sign-off at the prototype stage, we then get into production proper.

Q: Has there been any reaction at all from anyone who has seen the drawings that say that it's going to work well from a driver standpoint?

SCOT ELKINS: Actually, our drivers were involved in the input on the design of this new car. We spoke to drivers. We spoke to team owners. We spoke to team managers. We got a number of different ideas, and they've all been incorporated into the design you guys are seeing today.

STEVE JOHNSON: We've also listened to the fans. When you look, it still has the Champ Car look. What you'll see, it will have the Champ Car sound, as well. We're not changing that.

Q: Steve, how many years is this deal for Elan? Carl Haas was the distributor for the Lola cars for many years in Champ Car. Will Elan do the distribution directly or will there be a middleman?

STEVE JOHNSON: The initial term of this is three years. I'll let David comment. I have not had the discussions with Carl. I think they're in negotiations as they're going forward.

DAVID BOWES: Well, I think one of the benefits of going this early with the chassis, as I said just now, is that we can get into a prototype stage in the middle of next year. However, announcing it this early means there are obviously a few things which have now got to follow on from here and haven't yet been negotiated to any conclusion.

Now, first of all, when I was at Lola, I worked very happily with Carl Haas, I negotiated the deal with Carl. I absolutely respect what he does. But this is a different deal, different margins, different pricing structure, and therefore if we're going to work with Carl, it's a whole different debate. That hasn't even started in detail yet. We'll just have to wait and see where this goes.

Q: There's been no mention about the engine. Is it going to be the same exact engine or is there going to be a bump-up in horsepower, twin turbos?

SCOT ELKINS: Right now we're still in the development process of working with the Cosworth guys to see exactly what we can get out of this thing without hampering the reliability and engine life that we currently have now.

Ideally we'd like to get more power. Ideally we'd like to tweak the power to pass to where we maybe bump that up a little bit. We're not sure. We're still developing that. The other issue is we'd like to update some of the engine electronics, take advantage of some of the technology available in the current marketplace. We'll know more about that later.

Q: Is there a cost savings factor involved in this? How will there be a cost savings?

SCOT ELKINS: The fact of the matter is, this new car is about 35% less expensive than what our current car is right now. By enabling some new technologies and also by stating at the simple beginning of the process that it is a single-make series, we're able to manufacture cost savings into it. In addition to that, we're also building in about a 50% reduction in the cost of the parts of the cars, the parts that everyone goes through every weekend, the wishbones, the uprights, the very much consumable parts. We've reduced the cost of all of those. The fact of the matter is we're using an American manufacturer helps that a lot also.

Q: You've stated you went to the Champ Car teams and the drivers to get their input, show them the car, what they thought of it. Have you guys showed it to anybody else outside the series to possibly use as a lure to get them to come over to Champ Car?

SCOT ELKINS: We just released it to the public today. But I guarantee, that will be a large part of our marketing package to anyone that's interested in running in our series.

Q: You said track is going to be narrowed by about three inches, but side pods are pretty much going to stay the same width. Is that to keep from having the accidents from wheel to wheel getting contact?

DAVID BOWES: Yes, it's exactly that.

Q: This idea of cost savings, particularly if you intend to explore what are recognized to be fairly expensive technologies such as carbon fiber brakes, how is that plan going forward?

SCOT ELKINS: The idea behind -- let me start by saying that's a technology that we are exploring. We haven't made any decision on that as of yet. The fact of the matter is, with the intense braking and G loads that these cars create during a race weekend, we are using up metallic brakes, pads and rotors. The idea is with the way carbon technology has progressed, it's very well possible, and it's being done in other series, including the ALMS, where teams are getting anywhere between three and four races on a set of pads and rotors. By doing that, that will initiate a massive cost savings to our teams in the fact that they're not constantly replacing parts of the brake package.

Q: You mentioned a gearbox supplier. Can you identify that company?

SCOT ELKINS: Not at this time. Our primary focus has been to get the chassis sorted. Now that we've got that sorted and announced, our focus is going to go directly on preparing and coming up with someone that's going to supply our gearbox.

Q: Do you have a specific type of gearbox in mind in terms of the qualities that the box will present?

SCOT ELKINS: It's going to be very similar to the current gearbox. It will be a six-speed sequential. It will be mounted in the same location that it is now, the same direction that it is now. The only requirement we have is that it does have a minimum weight requirement.

Q: The car as presented in the illustrations bears a fairly strong resemblance to a lot of Formula One technology. Is, in fact, that sort of technology incorporated into this new project?

SCOT ELKINS: Some of the visual aspects may be similar. Our nose is very much raised in the air now. That's twofold. We've done that because we've increased the safety requirements for this car. It has a two-stage nose crush as opposed to the single stage it used to have. It has to be designed differently there.

You probably noticed some of the radiator exits. Those are just visual cues. The biggest things going forward is that this car, and I hope you've noticed it in the renderings, is that it still looks like a Champ Car. It still has a very low engine cover. It still has the exposed roll hoop that's in a fairly vertical state. The side pods are very low and very wide. We tried to basically just make a modern version of a Champ Car. Yes, it's going to have some F1 cues to it.

ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to our teleconference today. We'd like to thank all the media for attending our call and for your interest in the Champ Car World Series.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Carl Haas