CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes-Benz Engineers Head to Brazil

"Walking, Talking Shop Manuals" of Champ Car Racing Mercedes-Benz Trackside Support Engineers Head for Brazil MONTVALE, N.J. (April 30, 1998) -- Every new Mercedes-Benz comes with...

"Walking, Talking Shop Manuals" of Champ Car Racing Mercedes-Benz Trackside Support Engineers Head for Brazil

MONTVALE, N.J. (April 30, 1998) -- Every new Mercedes-Benz comes with a silver-covered owner’s manual varying from 136 to 168 pages, depending on the model. Mercedes-Benz racing engines also come with a manual. But the reference guides that Mercedes-powered CART teams will have at the Hollywood Rio 400 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 8-10 vary from 5 feet 7 inches to 6 feet 3 inches and travel on airplanes rather than in the glove box. "The Mercedes-Benz Trackside Support Engineers are walking, talking shop manuals, who are not just a reference guide, but are an extremely pro-active part of the teams they serve," said Paul Ray, vice president of Ilmor Engineering, the race engine design and manufacturing arm of Mercedes-Benz. "Our engines are constantly evolving, sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. If we tried to supply the teams with a comprehensive shop manual, it would have more volumes than the Encyclopedia Britannica, and we'd have to send them 100-page updates about twice a week." Most of the Trackside Support Engineers service a particular car and team throughout the year. Whether at a race weekend or test session, they become an integral part of that team, providing key support every time an engine is started. The engineers are also members of the Mercedes Trackside Support Team, which Ray and Ilmor founders Mario Illien and Paul Morgan have carefully shaped for the super-competitive FedEx Championship Series. "Our team includes electrical, mechanical and systems engineers, former engine builders and people whose backgrounds include work for major auto manufacturers and suppliers," explained Ray. "That diversity is deliberate. It gives us depth. Individually, each member of the team has a wealth of knowledge and experience. But together there is nothing that they don’t know and understand about the engine and its systems, so no situations arise that they can't handle." Together, the 14 person Mercedes-Benz Trackside Support Team represents approximately 188 years of racing experience and includes veterans from every category of racing: Formula Ford to Formula One, three-quarter midgets to unlimited hydroplanes and World Rally to World Sports Cars. Trackside Support Engineers don't drive race cars, and they don't dive over the pit lane wall with air guns in-hand. But as they huddle over laptop computers in the back of a team's pit lane scoring stand, staring at constantly changing graphs and charts of telemetry data, their role is every bit as crucial as that of any member on a racing team. Witness the 1997 Hollywood Rio 400. Marlboro Team Penske won that race when Paul Tracy's Mercedes-powered Penske outlasted Bobby Rahal's Reynard/Ford in a fuel efficiency run to the finish, one of several instances when Mercedes' fuel economy proved decisive last season. "With the advent of electronic engine management, one of the areas where we can have a big influence on a team’s success is through ful economy and collaborating with them on pit stop strategy during the race," said Ray. "The level of competition in this series requires that you have everything just right. Our guys are there to find any performance or efficiency advantage possible and exploit it." On raceday, every one of these walking, talking shop manuals will be hard at work, hoping to provide the instructions for another Mercedes-Benz win.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy
Teams Team Penske