CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Benz St. Louis Notes

Mercedes-Benz Brings "The Force" to St. Louis MONTVALE, N.J. (May 17, 1999) -- Each morning, Mercedes-Benz engineers use the force of a unique invention to warm-up each IC108E Phase III (E3) Champ Car engine. For the Motorola 300 at ...

Mercedes-Benz Brings "The Force" to St. Louis

MONTVALE, N.J. (May 17, 1999) -- Each morning, Mercedes-Benz engineers use the force of a unique invention to warm-up each IC108E Phase III (E3) Champ Car engine. For the Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, round six of the CART FedEx Championship Series, they will utilize a new and improved version of the robot-like apparatus nicknamed "R2D2," that debuted last year.

Mercedes-Benz Innovates R2D2 Like its predecessor, the new version was designed by engineers with Mercedes' race-engine design and manufacturing arm (Ilmor Engineering) to automatically heat water to 180 degrees and then pump it through the E3 Champ Car engine to bring it up to temperature before it is started. Now they have upgraded the invention to heat the engine's oil as well. Named for the initial prototype's resemblance to the "Star Wars" robot, R2D2 also cleans the oil and bleeds air from the cooling system. Pre-heating is critical to the operation of the E3 Champ Car engine because it is assembled to such tight tolerances (so close that the engine requires no gaskets) that starting it at cooler temperatures would cause damage.

Hogan Racing Brings Home-Field Advantage to Gateway Most teams are still in their hotel rooms when the R2D2 unit automatically clicks on and begins heating water each morning, but the Hogan Racing team will be in their own beds at home. Although driver Helio Castro-Neves lives in Miami, the Motorola 300 will feel like a home game for the St. Louis-based Hogan Racing team.

With 528 miles of testing at the 1.27-mile Gateway oval this year, Castro-Neves' team well understands the unique demands of Gateway's short oval. They have already proven the potential of the Hogan Racing Mercedes Lola, recording the fastest laps of competition at Motegi, Japan, and Nazareth, Pa.

"Gateway is not a true oval like Milwaukee or Chicago, where both turns are identical," said Casper van der Schoot, race engineer with Hogan Racing. "The two turns here have a different radius-turn one is tight while turn two is wide. With the low-downforce package that we run at this track, this is very important for us in determining the car's set up. We try to improve the exit speed from the turns, because that improves the speed on the straights, too. Of course, a change can make the car better in one corner, but worse in the other. Compromising is a fact of life-and of motor racing."

The Motorola 300 Features the Motorola Chip Each of the five teams racing with the E3 Champ Car engine will carry a special Motorola computer chip that is used to power the Magneti Marelli engine control unit (ECU). The Motorola chip and the ECU are part of the Magneti Marelli electronics and fuel management system developed specifically for the E3 in partnership with Mercedes-Benz.

Old Man River Is No Match For A Champ Car At the closed-course world-record speed of 240.942 mph (set by PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin in his Hollywood Mercedes-Benz in 1997), it would take 9.75 hours for a Champ car to travel the 2,350 miles from the Mississippi River's headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. By comparison, most adventure-seekers that paddle the length of the Mississippi River usually take the entire summer to accomplish this feat.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mauricio Gugelmin