CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Mercedes Preview

And Miles to Go Before We Sleep ... Mercedes Team Prepares for Final Leg of 1998 CART Journey MONTVALE, N.J. (Oct. 27, 1998) -- "Thank you for flying Mercedes-Benz IC108E Airways. Our frequent racing drivers will be earning 500 miles and a...

And Miles to Go Before We Sleep ... Mercedes Team Prepares for Final Leg of 1998 CART Journey

MONTVALE, N.J. (Oct. 27, 1998) -- "Thank you for flying Mercedes-Benz IC108E Airways. Our frequent racing drivers will be earning 500 miles and a chance at victory during today's low-altitude flight. For takeoff, please make sure your seatbelt is fastened low and tight across your lap -- and shoulders -- and that your helmet visor is in the full-down and locked position ..."

Mercedes-Benz Trackside Support Engineers will almost certainly never utter these words over the pit lane radio to any of the eight drivers using Mercedes IC108E engines in the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway, in Fontana, Calif., Oct. 30-Nov. 1. But you couldn't blame them for thinking about it after the territory they've covered during the 1998 CART FedEx Championship Series racing season.

"Travel is a way of life for anyone working in motor racing," said Paul Ray, vice president of Ilmor Engineering, the race engine design and manufacturing arm of Mercedes-Benz. As the person in charge of Ilmor's CART program, Ray makes, on average, one trip from Ilmor's U.S. facility in Plymouth, Mich., to the company's Brixworth, England, headquarters every three weeks. With this year's introduction of the all-new IC108E engine, a clean-sheet-of-paper design, he made the 7,600-mile round trip as many as three times a month during 1998.

"The introduction of the 'E' engine definitely added to my travel, but that's the trend anyway," he said. "As the CART schedule expands and the number of days of testing required to be competitive increases, so does our time on the road."

Frequent Fliers On average, each Mercedes-Benz engineer has logged 81,694 miles with seven different air carriers so far this year, spending about 176 days (58 percent of the year to date) on the road since January. They've each visited seven countries and, domestically, traveled to eight different states, with California being the most frequent destination.

They've each spent approximately 163 nights in hotel rooms and rented an average of 28 rental cars.

Where Does the Time Go? Those 176 days on the road break down to: 90 days (51 percent) at race events, 58 days (33 percent) at tests and 28 days (16 percent) of traveling. Averaging 14-hour workdays during race weekends and 16-hour days during testing, each engineer has logged about 928 hours of testing and 1,260 hours at race events for a total of 2,188 hours trackside.

Through October, they had each spent approximately 79 days (26 percent of the year to date) in the office. Twenty-three (53 percent) of the 43 weekends on the calendar between January and October were spent working. And, because all work and no play makes them dull boys, they've each averaged nine (three percent of the year to date) vacation days.

Dine In or Carry Out Averaging between two and three meals -- usually fast food -- for each day testing, and two to three meals -- usually proper meals -- for each day at a race event, they've each consumed approximately 370 restaurant meals this year.

The final 500 miles of the 1998 CART FedEx Championship Series journey will be televised live on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

www.mbusa.com

SM102098/61

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar