CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford teams schedule additional Long Beach Friday night

In October 1998, Ford purchased long-time racing partner, Cosworth Racing, in a deal that signaled the companies renewed commitment to auto racing. Since then, Ford and Cosworth have been tasked to find ways the two companies can benefit from ...

In October 1998, Ford purchased long-time racing partner, Cosworth Racing, in a deal that signaled the companies renewed commitment to auto racing. Since then, Ford and Cosworth have been tasked to find ways the two companies can benefit from coupling Cosworth's expertise in building and designing race engines, and Ford's resources and capabilities in automotive design, testing and development.

Although Ford and Cosworth share a storied history together, there were obstacles limiting the level of cooperation between our two companies. Prior to 1998, Cosworth was owned by Vickers, a competitor of Ford in the global automotive marketplace, making the level of cooperation needed to be a leader in racing difficult at times, until now

When the CART series visits the street course of Long Beach, Calif., Ford-powered teams will again have the dual resources of Ford and Cosworth working for them. For the first time during a race weekend, Cosworth track support engineers will be in contact with Cosworth engineers at Ford's Transient Dynamometer lab in Dearborn, Mich.

"Because the Long Beach race runs through the streets of the city, teams don't have the ability to effectively test the circuit. Cosworth engineers will have an XF prepared to run the Long Beach circuit on the Transient Dynamometer to simulate driving characteristics of our Champ Car drivers and effectively continue to test the engine when the cars are not on the track," said John Valentine, chief engineer, Ford Racing Advanced Technology.

After Friday's first round of practice, Cosworth engineers will e-mail data to engineers in Dearborn at the Transient Dynamometer. There, engineers will upload software containing the driving style of Michael Andretti or Max Papis around the track from Friday's sessions. Engineers will then test various aspects of engine performance looking for ways to improve the engine driveability.

Once the engine data has been analyzed, engineers in Detroit will e-mail engine software enhancements to Cosworth engineers in Long Beach in time for Saturday's qualifying.

Ford Racing driver Michael Andretti sees cooperative efforts such as this paying big dividends, not only in Long Beach, but during the remainder of the season as well.

"What Ford is doing in Long Beach is a little different, since the testing is being done during the race weekend, and I think it's going to be a big advantage for us. I think this will go a way to helping make our program even better," said Andretti.

"Ford and Cosworth have come a long way in just the first year-and-a-half of our new relationship. We are learning things from each other that are making our production and race vehicles better than ever before," said Valentine.

For proof, you have to look no further than Ford's CART program in 2000.

Ford Racing driver Michael Andretti enjoys running at Long Beach. Andretti, who owns one win (1986) and three poles (1991-92, 1995), is confident in his chances this weekend. And he should be, after delving into the numbers Andretti has a lot of things on his side:


* American drivers have captured the pole 11 times (1984-92, 1995, 1996) and the race win 12 times (1984-92, 1994-96)
* Michael Andretti holds the record for most poles with three (1991-92, 1995)
* Ford and Cosworth hold the record for most poles with seven (1984-86, 1992-93, 1995, 1998)
* Newman Haas Racing holds the record for most poles with seven (1984-85, 1997, 1991-93, 1995)
* Lola has captured nine poles (1984-85, 1987, 1998, 93) and six wins (1984-85, 1987, 1989-91), the most of any chassis manufacturer
* Ford and Cosworth have been represented on the podium 20 times in Long Beach. More than any other engine manufacturer in history
* Andretti has led Long Beach nine times, more than any active CART driver

HOW MUCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FIRST STREET RACE OF THE SEASON NEXT YEAR IN LONG BEACH?

"Yeah, we are looking forward to it. We had a good test at Sebring and we were running some good times, so we are prepared for it. We finished seventh last year so we would like to move up another six spots. That's our goal. It's been a while since the Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline team won on a street course. The last street or road race I won was in 1996 which is definitely too long ago. I have always liked racing in Long Beach because it is special to me since I won my first CART race there. You never forget your first one. Last year we had a tough time here since it was our first street race on Firestone tires and we just didn't know enough about the tires yet. We were just happy to leave here with some points but this year we want more than just a few points. The challenge with Long Beach is that it is right between six oval races and most teams are 100 percent prepared for racing on a street course sine they have been concentrating on oval set-ups." WHAT MAKES THIS ONE OF CART'S MOST SUCCESSFUL EVENTS? "The fans are great in Long Beach. The fans have really supporter the race over the years. The track allows for passing and good racing which is nice for both the fans and the drivers. The Long Beach race is a very important part of what the CART FedEx championship is today. This race helped grow our sport. Everyone loves racing here. The Long Beach area has changed unbelievably over the years since we started racing here. The buildings on the front straight used to be boarded up X-rated theatres and today its is a nice metropolitan area and I think the race had a lot to do with the rebirth of the area.

" WHAT'S GOING TO BE THE KEY TO THE NEW TRACK CONFIGURATION?

"I saw a little bit.  Maybe it will open up a new passing zone going into
the left hander by the Hyatt.  We will see."

FOR THE FIRST TIME, FORD AND COSWORTH WILL BE USING THE TRANSIENT DYNAMOMETER IN DEARBORN, MICH. DURING THE RACE WEEKEND TO LOOK FOR WAYS TO IMPROVE THE PERFORMANCE OF THE NEW FORD-COSWORTH XF ENGINE. HOW MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE IS THAT GOING TO BE?

"I think the Dyno work that they are doing is great. It really shows Ford and Cosworth's commitment to winning. Some of the other manufacturers have done this in the past. Honda in the past has had a good driveability engine and some of those improvements have come from stuff like that. What Ford is doing in Long Beach is a little different, since it is being done during the race weekend, and I think it's going to be a big advantage for us. I think this will go a way to helping make our program even better."

COYNE ANNOUNCES SPONSORSHIP FOR SALLES

When the CART series visits the Streets of Long Beach, the green #34 of Gualter Salles will not roll off the truck, instead, the blue, black and yellow colors of Panasonic will adorn the teams' Ford Lola. Panasonic and Dale Coyne Racing will renew their association for the first time since Hiro Matsushita campaigned a Panasonic sponsored in 1996. The two-race deal runs through the Rio race.

Gualter Salles and Dale Coyne Racing have had success before in Long Beach. Both have enjoyed their career best qualifying effort, fourth, in 1998 at the track.

HOW DID THE SPONSORSHIP WITH PANASONIC COME ABOUT AND HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN IN THE WORKS?

"Less than a week. I went to New Jersey last Friday night to talk with Hiro (Matsushita) because there are obligations they had with Panasonic, however that car ran. I have known Hiro for years and we sponsored him with Panasonic in 1996 and we are well aware of the number of clients they bring to Long Beach and just how important that program is for them. It just seemed natural that while they figure out what they are doing with Swift, that Panasonic come on board here in the hope we can give them some good results."

HOW MUCH DOES BRINGING PANASONIC ON BOARD, EVEN IF THE DEAL IS ONLY THROUGH THE RIO RACE, HELP THE TEAM?

"It helps quite a bit. It's only a two-race program, but we are hoping that we may be able expand beyond that. There are a lot of things we have in the works right now. I think it is going to be good for Panasonic and good for us."

WITH YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE WITH HIRO, DO YOU THINK WERE YOU THE FIRST PERSON HIRO CALLED?

"I hope so. Hiro and I get along very well. Back in 1996 when we were together we probably didn't have the best package of at that time. Lola was starting to go down because they were loosing their people to Reynard. I think the package we are running had a factor in the decision. I think the Ford Lola package is the best package to have. I am sure that they recognize that too and Gualter has done a good job."

WITH THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PANASONIC, HIRO AND SWIFT, WERE THERE ANY DISCUSSIONS REGARDING CHANGING CHASSIS FROM LOLA TO SWIFT?

"No. We are committed to Lola. We have been through a lot with them. We had to switch away from them in 1997 to go with Reynard. Then we came back and tested with them in 1998 and ran with them again in 1999. Our goal is to field the most competitive package we possible can and right now I think that is the Ford Lola."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gualter Salles , Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing