CHAMPCAR/CART: Bruce Wood, Cosworth Racing, interview, part I

Part I T.E. McHale: Good afternoon to everyone. Welcome to the CART Media Teleconference. Thanks to all of you for taking the time today to join us. Our guest this afternoon is Bruce Wood, the CART Program Director for Cosworth Racing. Good...

Part I

T.E. McHale: Good afternoon to everyone. Welcome to the CART Media Teleconference. Thanks to all of you for taking the time today to join us. Our guest this afternoon is Bruce Wood, the CART Program Director for Cosworth Racing.

Good afternoon, Bruce, thanks for being with us today.

Bruce Wood: Pleasure.

T. E. McHale: Bruce has been with Cosworth Racing since 1987 and has been primarily involved in the manufacturers CART program since then. He was named senior designer in 1993 and has held subsequent positions as chief designer, and chief engineer prior to taking on the duties of Program Director in 1998.

Bruce assisted with the design of the Cosworth XB Champ Car engine and was the chief designer of both the XD and XF power plants. The XB won both the CART Manufacturers Championship and the Driver Championship with Jacques Villeneuve in 1995; while the XF won the 2000 CART Manufacturers Championship.

Ford Cosworth Power has claimed the past two FedEx Championship Series events with victories from Kenny Brack at Japan and Milwaukee. Heading into this weekend's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix at The Raceway on Belle Isle, Ford stands a close third in the Manufacturers Championship with 73 points.

On the leads with 86 followed by Toyota with 84.

The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, Round 7 of the FedEx Championship Series, will be televised live by ABC-TV on Sunday June 17th beginning at 2:00 P.M. eastern time.

Before we get started taking questions, Bruce informed me just before we went on the call that he will be missing the Detroit event this weekend but he has got a great excuse, he is getting married. So Bruce we wish you a lot of happiness and a lot of years with that.

Bruce Wood: Thank you very much.

T. E. McHale: Now we will begin taking questions.

Congratulations, Mr. Wood.

Bruce Wood: Thank you very much.

I guess if you have to have an excuse that's the one to have.

Bruce Wood: Absolutely I figure I could only do it once in a lifetime. You have got to have a good excuse not to come to Ford's hometown.

We are coming up on what is probably a pivotal point in CART's history as far as the new engine comes along. What are your chief concerns from where you sit as far as what is going to happen with that engine?

Bruce Wood: I think the most important thing and the most critical thing for CART is to have a good vision, a good defining vision of exactly what CART wants to be in the future.

I think, as engine manufacturers, we will always have a potentially -- each engine manufacturer will have a slightly different agenda of what each of us wants. And I think the most important thing is to CART not to get too embroiled in -- I don't want to say not listening to us, but not get too embroiled in listening to everything that we say because we will always have a slightly different agenda. I think the most important thing is that CART understand its own target audience for the future; understand what kind of product, what kind of engine it needs to support that audience and then kind of come back to us to an extent with this is what we think our target audience needs of an engine package and obviously that can be high tech or low tech, high revving, low revving, turbo, no turbo.

So I think it is very important for CART not to be kind of dictated to by us, if you'd like, but to understand its own market where it needs to be in the future.

Do you have a preference one way or another where would you like to see it go?

Bruce Wood: I don't really have a preference to be honest. I guess we have lots of experience with the turbo engine. And one of the things that we like to believe is good about our engine is that we think our boost control is very good, so we have got a lot of experience and history there. We certainly like to believe, rightly or wrongly, that we have got a little competitive advantage there.

So in that respect you could say that it is nice to keep the turbo.

Turbos have some advantages too. Obviously, there's natural noise control having the turbo in there, you don't need a muffler, etcetera. Equally I could say we have been doing turbos for a long time, the aspirated engine would be a whole new challenge for all of us. I think it is kind of speaking as an engineer it is always nice to have new challenges every so often. I guess I have worked more than a decade on the turbo engine. I'd be quite happy to see an all aspirated engine.

For me personally I don't really mind which way it goes. I think for -- speaking as Ford and Cosworth, I think the normally aspirated route would be more to our advantage.

We've spoken in the past, I know at the track about the turbo versus the normally aspirated. At the time you had -- Ford had preferred, I think the 1.8 liter turbo and since then it seems like that is not going to happen from what everybody is saying. It sounds like they are going to go with a normally aspirated engine. Do you feel -- how are they going to be able to control power increases over time with a normally aspirated engine without having ref limits on the engine? How do you see that happening? Right now they have had the boost that they can play with for the last ten years. So how long will this engine last? Will it last ten years?

Bruce Wood: I think it's going to be difficult in any formula to project ten years into the future. So I think we are probably optimistic if we can map something out that is going to go that far. But I think certainly we can map out a future for it.

I think if we go the normally aspirated route then the -- really the one and only means of controlling power which is acceptable to all of us, manufacturers, certainly speaking as Ford Cosworth is acceptable to us, is our ongoing reduction in displacement.

Now, we would certainly be willing to accept as long - as we kind of know it up front then that really doesn't present too much of a problem to us - we would certainly be willing to accept a formula or a category where we end at a given capacity and we agreed upfront that every two years there would be a 500 c.c. displacement reduction. That would give us -- our product life cycle is typically about four years. So certainly the XB and the XD, each of those raced for four years. We hope to get something similar out of the XF. So say we only really have a four-year cycle before you have to design a new engine anyway - technology has moved to the point that certainly in the past the previous engine has become uncompetitive. We would be certainly happy to design an engine which we felt we could take down into 250 or 500 c.c. specs over a period of years. Given then, you know, in sort of four year's time the architecture of the engine we designed today or tomorrow would be too big for the capacity, we would then design a new engine which was more appropriate for the capacity we were then at.

So certainly the idea of ref limits on a car, if any of those things, is unpalatable to us as a manufacturer. That's not why we are in CART. We definitely perceive our place in CART as being sort of a high-technology arena where we can hopefully show of on what we are good at.

So we definitely are not interested in am formula that has any kind of limitations. I think the only way you can make an only aspirated Formula to fit in with that design is to agree with a capacity reduction and we would be happy to do that.

Toyota said they would like to see the IRL engine and the CART engine be close enough so that they can do two programs with a similar engine; not identical. When you talk about reducing displacement, would you be able to reduce the stroke of the engine and keeping the same bore size that the IRL mandates to give you a shorter stroke, maybe a higher revving engine ane keep on reducing that stroke over time or would that totally change the engine design?

Bruce Wood: Obviously you can achieve your capacity reduction like you say with a fixed bore size or you can achieve it with a varying bore size. If you did it with a fixed bore size, it would tend to push engines speed up and up over a period of time as your stroke became shorter and shorter which may not be to any of our advantage in terms of keeping costs in check. Having said that, this comes back a little bit to what I was saying at the beginning about each manufacturer having a slightly different agenda and definitely Toyota's agenda is a little different to ours.

Toyota obviously are committed to the IRL for the future; committed for a time certainly to CART, so they need to decide whether they can make the same engine. Certainly our decision was that you couldn't make one engine that was going to do both jobs.

Our feeling and then Davis at Ford has said this a few times is that you can probably make kind of one and a half engines to do both these jobs, but we certainly don't believe that one engine would do both those jobs.

What do you think would be the ideal displacement for CART? Would you see it as 3.5 liter as IRL is or would you see something a little bit smaller being ideal?

Bruce Wood: Personally I think something a little bit smaller probably. I think 3.5 liter will still give us quite a considerable power output. I would -- my feeling is that somewhere around 750 horsepower is probably a reasonable compromise. I think if we have much less than that on the road circuits we will begin to look a little slow. If we have much more than that on the ovals or super speedway anyway, then we are in danger of going faster than as maybe is considered responsible. So I would say somewhere from 700 to 750 horsepower would be a good target. Probably that's going to be -- that's going to be a better match to sort of a 3.2 liter engine than a 3.5.

So you could probably use the IRL bore size and just reduce the stroke a little bit and get your 3.2?

Bruce Wood: Yeah, I think that would be perfectly achievable.

Bruce getting married is the best thing you will ever do.

Bruce Wood: Very nice to hear you say that.

And your wife will tell you that everyday.

Bruce Wood: She will be a constant reminder.

You mentioned at the start, you have -- obviously o Ford and every manufacturer has got a different focus as to where CART should go and CART has to establish that. What is Ford's focus as to where CART should go as far as market demographics type of thing?

Bruce Wood: That's definitely I guess more a question for an engineer, if you'd like. But basically Ford very much likes the high-tech aspect of CART. CART is a pretty young audience. Obviously Ford has the perhaps advantage over the other manufacturers in that we compete in NASCAR. NASCAR obviously has a huge audience and an audience to which a lot of cars can be sold, but it is a very, very different audience to CART. Say CART is typically a much younger audience; perhaps a slightly more affluent audience; it is definitely an audience that all of the manufacturers want to appeal to.

So say we have encouraged CART a great deal to look at its own demographics and say who follows the series, say certainly our feeling is that it is young people interested in technology. So we very much want CART to retain that aspect. It's always very difficult because on the one hand we are sort of saying to them you have got retain this high-tech appeal. Obviously the race is where we get big audiences, street circuits; the more -- the bigger audience we can get, the bigger the TV coverage, et cetera, et cetera. A lot of new cities one could take up, want to have CART move to those cities and probably a lot of those might be in areas where the demographic is better than perhaps some of our, you know, Nazareth and Milwaukee, perhaps, the smaller tracks that don't get such a big audience these days.

We are perhaps keen to see CART look a lot at the tracks that it goes to and the places that it goes to. Certainly keep it's technology and say on the other hand we are also always saying to CART that it must not allow itself to get out of hand in terms of cost. We certainly don't want to be competing in another Formula 1.

That said, there's a rumor that pops up every once in a while recently, is Ford designing an engine for IRL?

Bruce Wood: No, we are not.

Do you have any plans for that in the future?

Bruce Wood: Not at this moment.

Will you be in Portland?

Bruce Wood: No, I am Honeymooning in Portland. (Laughs)  I will be
in Kenya at that point.  Next race I will be out will probably be Toronto.

I have been married going on 34 years so it's to be well recommended.

Bruce Wood: Thank you.

>part II >


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Kenny Brack