The Open Wheel Page is about links to Professional Open Wheel Racing. Indycar Racing League - IRL, Formula 1 Racing - F1, and Championship Car World Series - CCWS also known as Champ Car, are the racing leagues shown. Each driver of each team is listed with their car number and a car picture. Each team is listed in alphabetical order with their drivers listed by their car numbers in descending order. Each F1 team’s two cars are identical, so, only one picture is needed to show the team colours. All the drivers have their National Flag displayed with their car except that Formula 1 drivers have their home page linked to their flag and it is displayed beside their names. Indycar and Champ Car teams have one picture for each driver as they are painted with the sponsors’ colours and each is different. Indycar and Champ Car are mostly U.S.A. and Canada based leagues with a few races elsewhere: eg. Mexico and Japan. Their races are hosted by cities. However, Formula 1 is the elite league of all racing and has events all around the world. Formula 1 races are hosted by countries and the ‘Circuit’ visits each country once a year - except Germany which also hosts the Grand Prix of Europe. All of F1 races are ‘Grand Prix’ races run through the city streets of the host cities, but, some are held at ‘Road Course’ race tracks which provide the necessary hair pin and switch back turns that F1 is known for. The Indycar races are called ‘Indy’s’ and are run on ’Big Tracks’ at very high speed - up to 230 mph! Some Indy’s are on road courses and are appropriately slower. Champ Car races are also ‘Grand Prix’s’ and are run on road courses and through city streets. Some are on ovals, too, that are short track and big track. Champ Car cars have a turbo charged engine providing a boost that gives them extra hp when ever they need it. They have a top speed of 240 mph.
All these Open Wheel cars are very similar in shape and configuration. All the cars have small ‘Mid Engine’ V8’s that take special fuel, a driver’s ‘Cockpit’ in the ‘Chassis Tub’ ahead of the engine, a ‘Side Pod’ mounted on each side of the tub, a ‘Roll Over Hoop’ - above and behind the driver’s head - that contains the ‘Air Scoop’ to feed the engine, a ‘Nose Cone’ with the ‘Front Wing’ attached, the ‘Rear Wing’ and four wheels, not guarded by fenders - they are open. But, new for 2007 is the Panoz chassis, in ChampCar, that intakes the air from elsewhere, possibly the Sidepods. The nose cone/front wing can be replaced quickly and there are different types for different track types; ‘Road Course‘, ‘Short Track’ (about 1 to 1.5 miles) and ‘Big Track’ (about 2 to 2.5 miles). ‘Fuel’ and ‘Tires’ are replaced during the race as needed and adjustments to ‘Brakes‘, ‘Suspension’ and tire air pressure are ongoing until the car has the right ‘Grip’ on the track. The cars are designed with 'Aerodynamics' that push the car down onto the track for increased ‘Traction‘, but, don’t cause drag on the car that would slow it down. The front and rear wings accomplish this, as well as, the side pods that create aerodynamic changes to the air flow through them underneath the race car; it pulls the car down onto the track surface for better traction. All open wheel race cars are very 'High Tech.'; with advanced materials and engineering, lubricants, fuels, chassis aerodynamics, and they all send ‘Telemetry’ back to the team computers to analyse while the race is on. Telemetry is the transmission of data gathered by sensors and computers on board the race car. Today’s open wheel racing cars are more related to an aircraft than a sedan.
Indycar Racing League cars race at speeds up to 230 mph and race much like NASCAR with ‘Pit Stops’, ‘Tire Changes’ and a rolling start. They travel around ‘Ovals’ and ‘Road Courses’ counter clockwise making left turns. IRL completes a 14 race season from the end of March to the Beginning of September with the big race at the end of May: the Indianapolis 500. IRL drivers compete for ‘Points‘, received by their race finish position, to win the IRL drivers championship trophy, awarded annually to the driver with the most points. The manufacturers: Panoz and Dallara, also, compete for the manufacturers trophy. Borg Warner is the current sponsor of these trophies. IRL racing teams have up to 4 car teams or more. Andretti Green Racing has 4 car teams and Rahal Letterman Racing had 3 car teams - most of the teams have 1 or 2 cars. The cars are painted with their ‘Sponsors’ colours and each looks different, but, quite colourful as it is a big part of Indycar. For 2007, IRL has 9 racing teams and attempt to qualify all their cars each race; a limit of 22 qualify with 33 at Indianapolis. The support league is IndyPro Series.
A Formula 1 Racing race goes rain or shine. Each team is allotted a fixed amount of tire sets to race in any conditions: dry track, wet track and severe weather. Formula 1 is the elite of racing and is extremely advanced in technology. A Formula 1 race team is very expensive and a great deal of emphasis is placed on the drivers’ skills: they are the best in the world. F1 is an international racing league with 18 races annually - all around the world. Competing from early March to the end of October all events are treated equal, but, the Grand Prix of Monaco receives the most attention. Only one race is held in a country except Germany, who, also, holds the European Grand Prix. Although F1 cars are the same basic shape as other open wheel cars, the F1 teams have different arrangements as many of them are automobile and engine manufacturers. Some teams purchase ‘Chassis’ and engines from other teams and some teams provide their own. There is advertising on the F1 cars, but, essentially, each of the two cars is painted identically with the team’s colours. Each car has a different number and the cameras, on top of the roll over hoop, are a different colour. All the cars must stay configured the same, as they are in race 1, all season with the mechanics and engineers trying to gain speed and traction by fine tuning the ‘Components‘. Telemetry and race results aid them to do so.
All Formula 1 races are ‘Grand Prix’ events; run through the streets of the host country’s city or a track set up for it. It began from the European road races of street legal cars that were common early in the last century. All F1 cars qualify, as the 11 teams have 2 cars each. The previous V10 3.0L super powered engines have given way to V8 2.4L engines turning at 19,000 RPM (nineteen thousand!) with carbon fibre bodies and 7 gears forward. The drivers and manufacturers compete for the ‘World Driver Championship’ and ‘World Manufacturer Championship’ trophies: compiling points from their race place finishes. Only the top 8 positions receive points in a race.
Championship Car World Series is a North American Grand Prix racing league that gets to show it’s muscle at short track and big track events, too. With a top speed of 240 mph these ‘Turbo Charged’ V8 racers compete for the ‘Vanderbilt Cup‘. The cup is one of the oldest trophies in North American sports presented at some of the first races.
A turbo charged engine has a ‘Blower‘; a fan in the ‘Air Intake’ that drives air into the combustion chambers to burn more of the fuel ‘Injected’ into it: a lot more! The drive for the fan is the exhaust: the ‘Exhaust Turbine’ is connected to the blower by reducing gears and can turn at 100,000 rpm (one hundred thousand!). The faster the engine rpm, the faster the exhaust flows, turning the exhaust turbine faster, which then turns the intake fan even faster making the car go faster again: by being more efficient! More air for the same amount of fuel injected allows more of the fuel to burn creating more horse power. To keep things fair and safer, Champ Car only allows a certain amount of ‘Pressure‘, in the ‘Turbo Boost‘, regulating it with a mandatory ‘Pop-Off’ valve to prevent extreme pressures during a race. CCWS cars have the same Open Wheel aerodynamics that hold the car down onto the track , but, not holding the car back. Their new Panoz Chassis are said to be lighter and more aerodynamically capable.
The CCWS drivers compete for the Vanderbilt Cup by being awarded points for their race place finishes. The international drivers compete for the ‘Nations Cup’ the same way. ChampCar currently has 10 racing teams, most having 2 car teams, but, there have been three. The Champ Car season lasts 15 races from the beginning of April to early December. Most of the races are in the United States and a few in Canada, but, there are dates in Mexico and overseas, as well.
All of the league, team and racing drivers‘ names link to their home pages. The league Logos link to driver point standings pages, while the car pictures link to driver biographies and the team Logos link to team information all at the racing league web sites. The Drivers' National Flags now link to their Wikipedia pages - except F1. The Formula 1 Racing section is a little different: the car pictures link to their source, the drivers‘ names link to the F1 page about them and the drivers National Flags link to their home pages. There is also this 'Description' section. The driver championship trophies are with their current champions. IRL car configuration diagrams, linked to an IRL page about each manufacturer, show the basic open wheel design. Supports series’ and component manufacturer Logos are linked to their home pages. Each league has a ‘Countdown’ to the next race, a “Sunday’s Results” drop down menu showing the top 5 finishers of the previous race, Links to the Season Schedule and a Next Race Logo linked to that Race's Home Page.
All of the images have captions to explain what they are and where they link. Visiting an Advertiser's web page may be informative and helpful - it also gives them exposure: which is what they want.
The Sport of Open Wheel Auto Racing.
Open Wheel races are governed by ‘Officials’ using a common system of ‘Flags‘. There are minor changes unique to each league, but, all racing leagues use the same basic system. The ‘Green Flag’ starts the race and indicates race conditions exist. The ‘Yellow Flag’ is caution indicating a hazardous condition - road course races may have yellow sections only, while the rest of the track is still green. A full course yellow requires a ‘Pace Car‘, but, a yellow section requires cars to slow down for that area, only. The ‘Red Flag’ stops the race for weather or a serious crash. The ‘Black Flag’ directs the driver to the pits due to a ‘Physical Problem’ with the race car. The ‘White Flag’ indicates the last lap in IndyCar, but, in F1 it indicates a slow moving vehicle, ahead on the race track. The ‘Checkered Flag’ (Black and White) is shown as the leader completes the last lap, crossing the Finish Line and ends the race.
In Open Wheel racing the cars rely on ‘Aerodynamics’ to hold them down onto the race track and to allow the cars to slip through the air without slowing them down. Essentially, the engines are far more powerful than the race car needs to overcome its weight, but, to use it they need aerodynamic forces to give the tires traction. Both the front wing and the rear wing are shaped to cause ‘Down Forces’ on the car. The side pods - either side of the cockpit - scoop in air and ‘Channel’ it under the race car in such a way as to reduce it’s air pressure; allowing the outside atmosphere to push down on top of the car. All of the wings and under body channels give the car grip that allow open wheel racing cars to attain extreme racing speeds.
Open Wheel races require an involved ‘Qualifying’ that lasts several ‘Sessions’ and may take several days. Their ‘Aggregate Times’ produce a ‘Pole Sitter‘; the best, or lowest time, and a place for all other qualifiers in succession. The times are displayed in descending order - fastest to least fastest - on a pole, and the cars line up to start in the same order. The open wheel configuration has the benefit of tires that have air flow all around them keeping them cool - the brake parts, too - unlike a NASCAR race car that has wheels inside fenders needing air scoops to channel air through ‘Ducts’ that blow on the brakes and tires to keep them working. Tires bare the brunt of racing stress. They grip the track and provide for ‘Steering’ and ‘Acceleration‘. It is the tire rubber that touches the track that grips, not the groove. The groove allows water to squish into it, out of the way, creating a more positive ‘Contact’ with the pavement. In dry conditions, the most traction comes from a solid tire surface without treads. In wet conditions, treaded tires are used as the water is channelled into the grooves, away from the contact surfaces, maintaining traction. Race speeds are very much slower in wet conditions as the tire width remains the same, but, the necessary treads reduce the ‘Contact Area’ immensely. NASCAR does not use treadless tires as the heat generated would cause them to fail. Open wheel race cars do not have this problem.
Indycar races start from a ‘Rolling Start‘, after a few warm up laps behind the pace car. Once the lead car crosses the ‘Start/Finish Line’ it is ‘Full Throttle’ until a pit stop for fuel and tires, or a caution for debris or a hazard on the track. Then, back at green flag status, it is full throttle again; down the ‘Straightaways‘, through the ‘Turns’ - everywhere! Indycars use aerodynamics to keep the car glued to the track and achieve extreme constant speeds - usually well over 210 mph. Road courses, short tracks and big tracks are run with a different front wing for each. The cars pit several times during a race, to receive adjustments, fuel and tires. An Indycar race is generally about 200 laps, but, depends on the size of the course. The ’open wheel’ configuration allows for these exciting, maintained, high speeds.
A Formula 1 race starts from a ‘Standing Start‘. After a ‘Formation Lap’ behind a pace car; a street legal, but, performance enhanced vehicle, the cars line up in their ‘Starting Grid’ according to their qualifying times. When the lights go green they are off to the first corner; the most likely cause of the first crash, as, all the cars, now 2 and 3 wide, must slip together to round the turn in single file. If their wheels touch they could damage their cars or lose control. The ‘Pit Strategy’ is very important. Most cars pit twice in a race according to plan - problems can cause 3 stops or more. The ‘Pit Stops’ are very fast - about 10 seconds and the time to get in and out of ‘Pit Road’ - with 1 ‘Crewman’ for each tyre, refuelling and component of the car. Sometimes a car starting at the back of the grid will try to run the race on 1 pit stop: filling the car full of fuel and pushing the ‘Tyres’ to the limit. The heavier start and extended wear on the tyres makes handling very difficult and does not always work out at the finish. The race progresses to about 70 laps with incredibly nimble, high powered, glued to the road, skilfully driven high tech machines that seem to break the laws of physics. Passing occurs, but, moving up 3 or 4 positions, from the start, is all that is likely. However, the best drivers seem to move through the field with ease; catching up, or lapping cars at the back.
The quickness, agility and high powered sound of the ‘High Tech’ small engines makes F1 racing an exciting event looked forward to annually by race fans around the world.
ChampCar World Series races are from a standing start, after a formation lap, and compete for position as they merge into single file to complete the first turn. Like F1, Champ Cars run around the track clockwise and pit rarely, but, do take on fuel and tires. The 90 to 100 lap races require pit strategy from the start. Champ Cars display their sponsors’ colours and each is painted differently. Much of a Champ Car race is spent negotiating the turns on the track, but, in short straight sections, the ‘Turbo Charger’ (takes part of a second to build boost) kicks in and lurches a race car past the opponent caught by surprise. The two may continue to battle; each looking for the other to make a mistake, or, the faster car may move on to pass the next car ahead. ‘Lapped’ cars move out of the way, but, the leaders compete for every piece of raceway often burning out their fuel and using up tires early. Pit strategy and shear driver skill attains race position for the finish. The new, lighter Chassis coupled with the Turbo Charged engines should make for even faster speeds!
Pro Sports Official Team Sites Open Wheel Auto Racing Page can link you with all the action, right to the racing source; the Professional Drivers, Teams and Leagues. Their racing news pages will keep you up to date.