IndyCar phasing out ICE?


Indianapolis (AP) — IndyCar plans to use hybrid technology to increase horsepower and improve safety.  (Start the day with a smile?)

The racing series announced it will integrate a hybrid powertrain into its cars beginning in 2022.  The technology will use braking systems to create energy recovery and will include multi-phase motors, inverters and electric storage devices.  (Even more things to go wrong.)

The hybrid systems will work in conjunction with the traditional, internal combustion engines (ICE) built by Honda and Chevrolet to produce more than 900 horsepower.

The new systems also will increase the horsepower of the push-to-pass systems and allow drivers to restart their cars from the cockpit.  That should minimize a driver’s exposure if he or she stalls on the track.  Cars currently have to be cranked using hand-held electric starters.

“It’s an exciting time for IndyCar with the forthcoming evolution of the cars and innovations like the hybrid powertrain being incorporated into the new engine,” IndyCar President Jay Frye said.  “As we move toward the future, we will remain true to our racing roots of being fast, loud and authentic, and simultaneously have the ability to add hybrid technology that is an important element for the series and our engine manufacturers.”  (You are allowed to laugh out loud!)

The addition of the hybrid powertrain will delay the debut of IndyCar’s new engine from 2021 to 2022, realigning it with the arrival of the next chassis.  The delay also extends the window of opportunity for a third engine manufacturer to join Chevrolet and Honda in the series.

The new engine regulations will be in place for six years — through the 2027 season — in an effort to provide stability for manufacturers and teams.

(After 2027 it will be all-electric.)


Bad cars that I should have forgotten

A friend of mine sent me an item about the 10 best cars in the past 50 years, and obviously there would be many different ideas from the enthusiasts.  Unfortunately, for many people, they are only guessing, because just how many of you have actually driven a Porsche GT3, or even a Lamborghini?

I started driving in the 1950’s, and I also have to admit that it was my father’s car.  The car?  A 1939 Austin 12, made at the beginning of the war.  Remember that war?  That was the one the Germans lost, so they could come back later and take over Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Mini.  What was left, like MG and Rover ended up in China and even Jaguar ended up in India.

But back to Dad’s Austin 12.  It was a large four door family saloon produced by the Austin Motor Company and was launched in August 1939 and produced until replaced in 1947 by the similar sized but larger engined Austin A70 Hampshire.  With beam axles front and rear and mechanical brakes, it was more comfortable at rest than when in motion.  Definitely one of the worst cars I have ever driven.

Austin A 40
Austin A 40

My first ‘real car’ which was mine and mine only, was a 1949 Austin A40 and was 10 years old when I took ownership.  It was not a good buy, blowing up after two weeks.  These days I would be more careful in pre-ownership checks, however it was repaired and did serve me for the next 10,000 miles without too many hiccups.  But it was painfully slow.

The A40 was actually considered a power machine in its day.  A 1.2 liter straight-4 OHV engine produced 40 bhp (30 kW) at 4200 rpm.  It also had front coil sprung independent suspension but retained a rigid axle and semi elliptic leaf springs at the rear.  The Girling brakes with 9 in (229 mm) drums were operated hydraulically at the front and mechanically at the rear.

An A40 tested by The Motor magazine in 1948 had a top speed of 70 mph (110 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 37.2 seconds.  Read that again – 37.2 seconds!  To record those sorts of times, I think they probably had to use a calendar!

The next in my list of personal dreadful cars came from Italy, the home of GT motoring, Ferrari, Maserati De Tomaso and Lamborghini.  Mine was not a GT car, but a Fiat 1100 D I purchased for five British pounds and it was a well-worn example.  So worn that it used more oil than gasoline.  I used to collect oil from my local garage that had been drained from better cars coming in for a grease and oil change.  Remember those days?  In its heyday (the first week after coming out of the factory the Fiat 1100 D boasted performance figures of: top speed 120 km/h (75 mph) (factory); acceleration 0- 60 mph 27.2 seconds; 0- 100 km/h 30.2 seconds and 0- 1/4 mile 23.2 seconds.  My rather more knackered version would go nowhere near those figures.  Another very bad car.  Incidentally, I never sold it.  I parked it on Tilbury docks in London, threw the keys in the water and hopped on to the MV Adelaide Star where I was to be the ship’s surgeon for the voyage to Australia.  It may even still be there?  However, being left for the London light-fingers, I doubt it.

Jaguar.  I’ve owned two Jags, a Mk VII and a Mk VII M – both at the same time and the VII M I sold twice to the same lady.  I bought the M first, a rather well worn example with teeth missing off the ring gear for 30 GBP.  If the engine stopped rotating in that one spot, all you could do was select a gear, rock the car to turn the engine away from the missing teeth and try the key again.  This was quite a performance, as Mk VII Jags weigh around 1,700 kgs.

The VII I bought because it was cheap (25 GBP) and had a bent con-rod.  The sign of a rather big over-rev.  Through a friend in the trade I got a new con-rod for nine shillings and three pence.  I then set about cannibalizing the two Mk VII’s and ended up with a nice black one and a very very tatty grey one.

I was working in Torbay Hospital at the time and the powers that B (the Director) became annoyed as the Jags took up four parking spots.  I promised to sell one and advertised the grey one for 15 GBP.  That weekend a woman rang and said she would buy it.  Reluctantly she came round to the hospital car park to look at it.  I explained the missing teeth on the ring gear, but she was not really interested.  She, by the way, came round in a new Austin Healey 3,000.  I gave her the key and took the 15 quid.

Jaguar Mk VII
Jaguar Mk VII

On the Monday morning I received an angry phone call from the Director.  “You told me you had sold one of the Jaguars,” he shouted down the phone.  “I did,” said I.  However when I looked out the window, there it was again.  Parked right next to the main entrance!

Now it was my turn to be angry and I rang Mrs. Healey 3,000.  “Why is the Jag back here?”  She explained that she only wanted it for the weekend as she had some children coming to visit and couldn’t fit them all in the Healey and the 15 quid was cheaper than a rental car.  I went on the defensive at that, saying I was not going to give her the money back, but she said she didn’t want the money back anyway, and was returning the car to me.

I advertised it the following weekend for another 15 GBP and this time it did leave the car park, making it 30 quid for a grey very tatty Mk VII M.  The black one?  In a faultless year, I drove it all over Europe, North Africa  and the UK and sold it to another doctor for 90 GBP.  Probably one of the best buy and sells I ever did.


Get ready for Bangsaen

Most people who read this column will know where Bangsaen is.  If you didn’t, it is 45 km from Pattaya, heading to Bangkok, and every year for the past 13 years hosts the Bangsaen Grand Prix around the streets of the town.

Like all street circuits, it is edge of the seat stuff for the drivers, but by the same token it is very rewarding for the drivers as well – not only did they beat the opposition, but they beat the circuit as well, complete with its “magnetic” walls.

I have run at a couple of street circuits over the years, including a 6 Hour at Bangsaen and a sprint race at the Surfers Paradise round the skyscrapers race in Australia.

There are two famous street circuits in Asia and they are the Macao Grand Prix and the other is Bangsaen.

Bangsaen Grand Prix Trans Am 2.
Bangsaen Grand Prix Trans Am 2.

The Bangsaen race this year runs from August 28 through to September 1, and the categories racing will include the International Porsche Carrera Cup, the FIA GT3 cars of the Thailand Super Series and the V8 Trans Am2 cars.

If you would like to know more about this event you can speak to Michael Freeman who will be driving a TA2 cars at 081 808 0163.


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