CHAMPCAR/CART: Handford wing in use at Michigan

CART Online (July 22, 1998) -- This weekend's U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota marks the debut of the new Handford Device, a wing-like aerodynamic piece adopted by CART to help contain the speeds of Champ Cars at Superspeedway events. Designed...

CART Online (July 22, 1998) -- This weekend's U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota marks the debut of the new Handford Device, a wing-like aerodynamic piece adopted by CART to help contain the speeds of Champ Cars at Superspeedway events.

Designed by Mark Handford of Swift Engineering, the Handford Device accomplishes its objective by increasing drag on straightaways and reducing downforce in corners. With the reduction in downforce, more driver skill is required to maneuver the car through the corners, and top-end speeds are trimmed.

Adoption of the Handford Device should also lead to more passing and help create more exciting racing. Because the device does not, in itself, produce much downforce, a following driver can stay close and pursue the option to pass without experiencing a loss of grip.

See the accompanying diagram for more information on how the Handford Device works.

"It's a great way to slow the cars down," said Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) during an extensive three-day test of the device at Michigan Speedway late last month. "That sounds like an easy thing to do, but it's not, and I think that right now, this is probably the best solution. The speed at Michigan is tremendous and you can definitely feel it. The scary thing is that something could go wrong. The [FedEx Championship] series has really kept that in mind and worked hard to make it safer and bring the speeds down. The Handford Device is a big step in the right direction. I have worked with Mark Handford for years at Newman/Haas and he is one of the - if not the - best aerodynamicists around."

Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) was the first driver to test the Handford Device, last February at the California Speedway.

"Any reduction of speed is welcome, however small," de Ferran said. "It does make a big difference in the event of an accident at those speeds. I think it will make an impact on the average speed, trap speed and corner speed of the car. There could be some excitement on the straightaways because we found in testing that you can get a big tow off a car in front of you. There is a tendency to get sucked in by the car ahead of you."

Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) owns top-six finishes in his past three starts at Michigan Speedway, highlighted by a runner-up effort in the Inaugural U.S. 500 in 1996. He also recorded the fastest qualifying lap in auto racing history, a 240.942 mile per hour clocking at California Speedway last year.

"It feels very strange when you first drive it," Gugelmin said. "It's very draggy, like you've got a parachute on the back of the car. It doesn't take long to go flat out, but you don't feel the stability you did in the past. But you gain confidence quickly. We ran quite a few miles [218, during 109 laps] in testing. We experimented with wickers and learned quite a bit. I wasn't going for a quick time, and I know where I can find the three or four miles per hour we need. Basically, it will take more track time to see where we can get more out of it."

The Handford Device will also be utilized at the FedEx Championship Series season finale, the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota, Nov. 1 at California Speedway.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Mauricio Gugelmin