WRR TV: Why Even Pro Drivers Are Running ChampCar

Features, Racing I By Tom Martin I November 03, 2020

You may have noticed that more and more drivers and mechanics from top Spec Miata and pro-am and even a few pro teams are getting a little ChampCar racing in on the side. There are plenty of reasons, but near the top of the list is the chance to run endurance events at relatively low cost and the chance to do it with your friends, not all of whom may be top flight drivers or capable of top flight budgets. The other great thing about ChampCar is the chance to practice passing with fairly big closing speed differences and unknown drivers. This is something you have to do in IMSA and Continental Sports Car Challenge, among others, and it is great practice (which, given the long stints, you get to practice a lot). Winding Road Team TFB test driver Will Faules shows what we're talking about in this short clip from ChampCar at Circuit of the Americas. Oh, and you get to practice your hand signals, too.

If you are accustomed to SCCA or NASA class racing, this amount of passing may seem rather aggressive. That's probably because you typically aren't on track with 80 other cars many of which have lap time deltas in the 20-30 sec range (if you have one of the faster driver/car combinations). As a result you have to make hundreds of passes in ChampCar during a typical 7 hour race, so what you see here happens to some degree on every lap. And honestly, many of the drivers are inexperienced and pretty polite, so you learn to recognize what they're giving you. If you don't pass at most opportunities, you can easily add 5-10 sec per lap. At that rate, you're giving up 4 laps or more to your more skillful/aggressive competitors in each race. And you are giving up a golden opportunity to learn to pass frequently, decisively and well. Those are skills you and your fellow competitors will appreciate back in the sprint racing world.

If you aren't familiar with ChampCar, a while back we wrote an introduction to ChampCar as part of our Guide To Road Racing series.

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The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

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