This is a spectacular case of how not to promote a much-anticipate race. After just finishing it's 8 season of around-the-world racing, Formula E has endured multiple debacles throughout it's growing phase (Miami, Montreal, & London to name a few), so it's not entirely surprising the young Series fell victim again to over-promises and under-deliveries.
In my opinion, the race engineer’s primary job is to get the car to do exactly what the driver wants it to do. Some good engineers disagree with me; they only focus on the simulations and what the fastest set up is from a theory standpoint, then expect the driver to get the most from it. I figure if the car is to the driver’s liking, he can show me what he has… he has no excuses.
Bucky has adapted to rallycross much faster than most people will ever know. When you consider that he typically gets fewer than a dozen laps of practice before his couple of qualifying laps—and then it’s right into the races—it’s amazing that he’s battling with guys like Ken Block, Tanner Foust and Travis Pastrana (all of whom seem to live in a car!). From my perspective, it’s what he brings from skateboarding that allows him to just jump in, mix it up, and adapt so quickly.
Dennis Paul has been the official Starter for the American Le Mans Series for the past 15 years (the only Starter the series has ever had). When I raced in the IMSA/ALMS series I always felt I had an advantage over my competitors at the start because I could “read” Dennis. He’d been the Starter at my local road racing circuit, Westwood Motorsport Park, early in my career (the early ’80s). In some ways, we both moved up the ranks of pro racing together, and more than one driver I know has said he’s the best Starter, period.
I’m sure everyone reading this knows about data systems. We’ve all seen it in other people’s cars, maybe we have one, and have watched the cool traces on TV in all the racing series showing a driver’s throttle or brake application and speed. If you are a fan of F1, ALMS, Grand Am, or one of the other big race series, you’ve seen the pit boxes full of computers, monitors, and a myriad of race engineers.
Passing through 4th gear, the shift lights are indicating I’d better shift to 5th gear quickly. With 5th gear engaged I tell my right foot to stay on the floor through the left hand kink that is looming ahead. As I turn-in the rear gets light which is quickly followed by counter-steering and telling myself, “We need to make that better.”
At the start of a race or track session we see drivers weaving back and forth across the track. Ask a driver why all the swerving and you’ll hear, “I’m getting the tires up to temperature.” Well, I don’t think that’s what’s happening. Most of the tread surface is cooling, not heating. And, since rubber is a poor conductor of heat, very little of the frictional heating on the tread surface gets into the bulk of the tire.
Everybody that hasn’t been on track at Circuit Of The Americas yet is foaming at the mouth, and everybody that has is in a daze from how amazing, fast, and technical this brand new, $400 million dollar facility is. I’ve been around it a couple of times over the last few months, and though I’ve probably got 20 laps on it I still don’t have a firm grasp on things…but I do think I know a good start to running a quick lap, and here it is.