This is a new segment called PIT STOP. Each week, I will be posting one or two short posts that explains some of the science, technology and terms in IndyCar racing, that you can share with your kids (or non-racing friends and family, as it’s a great way to learn the basics!) Careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are the way of the future, and sparking a child’s interest early on is a great way to get them on the right path for success. AND, the more you you can learn and understand about a subject, the more appealing it is to watch and stay vested in over the long term…Who knows, maybe we have a brilliant future IndyCar engineer in our audience? I hope you and your kids enjoy these segments, and if there is anything you and your kids would like to have explained, just shoot me an email! Today, we’re just going to start with the basics of an actual Pit Stop, Time, Tires and Fuel, and expand from there!
A Pit Stop in a typical IndyCar race lasts somewhere around 10 seconds.. That’s just 10 seconds that the crew has to refuel the car, change the tires and make any minor adjustments that may be needed. This is where the Driver has no control, and he or she has to have complete trust in his crew. The pit crew must operate sort of like a single unit or machine with many arms. If they take too long, or have problems during any aspect of the stop, it could be the difference between winning and losing a race. Intense enough for you?
FIRESTONE RACING TIRES
IndyCar uses all Firestone Racing Tires, and there are three types of tires that the series runs on. The first two types are used at all IndyCar races, while the third is only used on Street or Road courses as attempting to race on a wet Ova track is far too dangerous.
- Primary or Black Tires- These tires have a longer wear time, and provide the Driver with a nice blend of speed and handling in the corners.
- Alternate or Reds- These tires are faster wearing due to their softer compound, but offer the Driver the ability to go faster, and really provide grip in the corners.
- Rain or Grey- As the name indicates, these tires are only used in wet conditions ONLY on street and road courses where the chance of hydroplaning is high. Speed and grip are lost with this type of tire, but it keeps the car on the track.
Here, you can see the difference in a set of sticker (brand new) tires, and a set that has been run. The tire on the left side of the picture has obvious wear, rocks and debris from the track stuck to it. The round oval indicators are worn down, and the white line that you see on the brand new set of sticker tires on the right sided picture is gone. Thanks to Dale Coyne Racing and KV Racing for letting me take some pics! A lot of pics that you’ll see in these upcoming segments were either taken in the Coyne OR KV Pits during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend, and of course more will be taken this month at IMS.
IndyCar engines run on a blended type of fuel that many every day cars run on, called E-85. E-85 is a mixture of 85% Ethyl Alchohol, (made from distilling starchy, sugary crops like corn or sugar cane.) and 15% gasoline. It is a very efficient type of fuel that burns cleaner, and that’s important for protecting our environment. Each IndyCar holds 18.5 Gallons of Fuel in a fuel cell, and a fully fueled car at speed gets about 3-4mpg depending on the course they are running. (Info from IndyCar.com) So depending on the length of the race, track terrain, speeds and weather, anywhere from 2-4 stops (or more) may be necessary for a race.
Hope you and your kids have enjoyed this first PIT STOP segment, be on the lookout for another later this week as we head into the GP of Indy Weekend!