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Copyright 1997-2002
Indianapolis Region
Sports Car Club of America

Clutch Chatter -- May 2000

RE News
by Mark J. Badgley

For what may be the last time, John Best made the decision that I could be of some assistance by working a corner at the INDY Regional on April 9th at IRP. Over the course of the last decade, I have spent a great deal of time in the Pit and Grid Area and with some sense of nervousness, I thought that a chance to work on a corner might be a good idea. Keep in mind that this thought process took place early on Sunday morning. Hey if nothing else, I am a team player…RIGHT?

As I drove to my new home at TURN 9, I was trying to contemplate how the corner captain got the name of "Hawkeye". Was this just a nickname or did it have some deeply rooted historical significance that I needed to be aware of. By the time that I got to my new abode, the GRID was at five minutes, so any contemplation of history quickly swept away. I introduced myself to Mr. Hawkeye Pierce, who told me that we would alternate between working the blue and yellow flags between sessions. This would keep anybody from getting bored. After all we were a team and I am a team player…RIGHT?

The day began fairly quiet and as I started to settle in, my mind drifted back to thinking about history. All was going really well. In fact it was going so well that I felt the need to invent a new flag. Yes, this is what I needed to do. One must leave a legacy. After all, I have been a corner worker for nearly 30 minutes! The "Waving Blue". Yes, that is definitely the ticket to ensure my place in the history of this club. Why you say? Well, it is really fairly simple. It allows me to justify my behavior. Remember that I said that the plan was to alternate flagging responsibilities between the two of us? Apparently, it is important to remember which position that you are at in order to respond both instinctively and appropriately. As I watched a car spin backwards through the station in a fairly spectacular fashion, my first thought was to warn the other oncoming unsuspecting drivers of this potentially difficult situation. This is that part where experience really pays off! Hawkeye put his hand on my vigorously waving flag and explained that the waiving blue may not be the most appropriate flag at this time. HUH!!!! He was right and as there was a huge gap in the traffic, nobody actually saw my new invention. In fact the whole incident took less than two seconds. The good news is that the car that went off spun into a well-protected position and without actually hitting anything. The driver got out and did the well documented "The Car Broke Stance" next to the car with his hands on his hips, we dropped both waving flags, called the incident into control and all was fine. This two seconds left me with both a reinforced respect for the level of concentration that the corner workers have in order to deal with all kinds of distractions from weather to fairly stressful on track opportunities and incredibly humbled. Now I am sure that my invention will not catch on here, but I wonder if I call Bernie when he is here later this year. After all he is definitely a team player….Right?

The reason that I bring this up, is that despite the slight embarrassment it really was a great experience. I got great support from John and ultimately Hawkeye who had no idea as to what he was getting himself in to when I showed up. Most of all I really want to thank all of the F&C people for their efforts over the years. In fact, I look forward to trying it again….if John lets me. These Guys/Gals are really the Team Players….RIGHT!

Oh, I never really got a definitive answer to my history questions, but I did have an overwhelming urge to go home and watch all of the MASH episodes.

See you all somewhere.

BOARD MEETING HIGHLIGHTS
March 13,2000
By Bob Burns

These are highlights of the recent Indy Region Board of Directors meeting. If you have questions about the region's affairs, please attend the next meeting or contact any officer or board member.

Treasurer's Report: Cash flow is now positive with income from race, solo, and rally events.

Membership: 615 members.

Activities: Banquet contract signed.

Road Rally: April event was well received. May event ready.

Solo: April events had good turnouts. May event coming up. Other site locations being considered.

Drivers School/Regional Race: Entries not as good as expected. Question about CenDiv Regional Championship Series status for the Regional to be resolved.

Double Regional Race: Entry forms mailed.

National Race: Supps will be ready soon. Both oval and road course sessions for an electric car series may be worked into our schedule.

Race Equipment: The region will look into buying straps so that the wreckers at our races will be appropriately equipped.

Planning Committee: The first meeting has been conducted and a report was presented. The second meeting will be held sometime in May.

The next board meeting will be 13 June 2000 at 6:00pm at Laughner's Cafeteria on US 31 South.

CALENDAR

May 6-7 Double Regional at IRP
May 14 Solo II Event (See add page 3.)
May 21 Road Rally Points Event (See ad page 1.)
May 22 Clutch Chatter Deadline
Jun 6 Solo II Australian Pursuit/Speedrome (See ad page 4.)
Jun 13 Indy Region Board Meeting
Jun 18 Solo II Event
Jun 24 Clutch Chatter Deadline
Jun 25 Road Rally Points Event

Solo Report
By Dave & Cathy Hart

Clemens Burger and crew put together a couple of great courses at the 16th Street Speedway for the school and the first points event. We had dry weather at both events and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The event results are detailed elsewhere in this issue. (Please note that several entrants had their times disallowed for failure to perform their required worker assignment. We regret the need to take this measure, but so many people left that we had to enlist help from folks that had already done their part. If you believe your time was disallowed in error, please contact Dave Hart.)

The Solo season has started off with a bang (57 entrants at the school and 80 at the first points event). We have a lot of new competitors, but I’m still looking forward to seeing some more of the familiar faces. Come on out and try our new Street Tire class, or perhaps the Novice class if you’ve never autocrossed before.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out, particularly those that have gone the extra mile to spread some of the fun around.

Our upcoming events are Points Event #2 on May 14, again at the 16th Street Speedway, and Points Event #3 on TUESDAY, June 6 at the Indianapolis Speedrome. See event advertisements elsewhere in this issue.

Remember, it’s never too early for non-members to join the SCCA, or for members to qualify their points for year-end awards. Non-members joining prior to September 1, 2000 can use all points earned during the season towards a possible year-end award. Please call Dave Hart at 317-849-2495 or dave.hart@insightbb.com if you have any questions, or would like to qualify your points.

2000 INDIANAPOLIS REGION SOLO II SCHEDULE

Date(s) Event/Site
May 14 16th Street Speedway
Jun 6 Australian Pursuit / Speedrome
Jun 18 TBA
Jul 22-23 BFG #4 / Converse, IN
Aug 20 16th Street Speedway
Sep 17 Australian Pursuit / Speedrome
Oct 15 TBA

Indianapolis Region Solo II Points Event #2

16th STREET SPEEDWAY SPECIAL

SUNDAY, May 14

16th Street Speedway Parking Lot

1501 West 16th Street, Indianapolis

Rain or Shine

Karts Welcome! (Contact Dave Hart for Rules)

It is the judgment of the Solo Safety Steward whether the course design, surface, solid objects, and type of karts running present an unsafe mix (2000 Rulebook 2.1.D). Please contact the Solo Chairman prior to the event to determine the likelihood of limitation or exclusion occurring.

Registration & Tech: 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Driver's Meeting: 10:45 AM
Event Start: 11:00 AM

$15.00 Members $18.00 Non-Members

Contact: Dave or Cathy Hart at (317) 849-2495 E-Mail: dave.hart@insightbb.com

Indianapolis Region Solo II Points Event #3

SPEEDROME SOLO SPECTACULAR

TUESDAY, June 6, 2000

AUSTRALIAN PURSUIT

Back by Popular Request

If you haven’t tried this specialty format, you owe it to yourself to try it out.

Indianapolis Speedrome, 802 South Kitley Avenue, Indianapolis

Corner of Kitley Avenue and Brookville Road

Karts Welcome! (Contact Dave Hart for Rules)

It is the judgment of the Solo Safety Steward whether the course design, surface, solid objects, and type of karts running present an unsafe mix (2000 Rulebook 2.1.D). Please contact the Solo Chairman prior to the event to determine the likelihood of limitation or exclusion occurring.

Gates Open: 5:00 PM
Registration & Tech: 5:00 – 6:00 PM
Driver's Meeting: 6:15 PM
Event Start: 6:30 PM

$15.00 Members $18.00 Non-Members

Contact: Dave or Cathy Hart at (317) 849-2495 E-Mail: dave.hart@insightbb.com

Indianapolis Region SCCA Solo II School / Test&Tune
16th Street Speedway April 2, 2000
Place Time Name Vehicle
SS      
1 40.310 Josh Hayes Mazda RX-7
2 43.194 Tiffany Howey Chevrolet Corvette
AS      
1 36.834 Todd Houtz Porsche 944 Turbo
2 37.572 Ala El-Malak Porsche 968
3 37.647 Christopher Welsh BMW M3
BS      
1 39.037 John Steger Mazda Miata
2 39.134 Jay Hofacker Mazda Miata
CS      
1 33.883 Clemens Burger Toyota MR2
2 36.290 Josh Berman Mazda Miata
3 40.994 Marc Kerr Pontiac Fiero
4 41.649 Teresa Lloyd Toyota MR2
5 42.610 Darren Daubenspeck Mazda RX-7
6 43.853 Linda Baker Pontiac Fiero
DS      
1 36.195 Brian Gard Plymouth Neon ACR
2 38.186 Dan Sellers Dodge Neon
3 38.790 Gustavo Hammerly Honda CRX SI
DSL      
1 42.437 Valerie Gard Plymouth Neon ACR
ES      
1 39.198 Patrick Tipton VW Golf GTI
2 41.676 John Johnson Acura Integra
3 44.397 David Burkhead Mitsubishi Eclipse
FS      
1 38.307 David Johnson Chevrolet Camaro Z28
2 40.790 Steve Povalac Pontiac Firebird GTA
3 41.135 Jacques Smith Ford Mustang
GS      
1 37.701 John Kudlaty Eagle Talon
2 38.136 Jason Strain Honda Prelude
3 39.338 Matt Chitwood BMW 325is
4 39.499 Ross Chitwood BMW 325is
5 41.725 Nina Smith Eagle Talon
6 42.949 Toshihiko Asahi Mercury Cougar
HS      
1 39.744 James Owens VW Jetta TDI
2 41.549 David Mason Honda Civic
3 43.336 Chris Foresman Honda Civic EX
4 44.070 Wunji Lau Oldsmobile Alero
ASP      
1 38.884 David Hawkins Mazda RX-7 Turbo
CSP      
1 35.879 Matt Sanders VW GTI VR6
2 38.363 Chunn Cheng VW GTI
DSP      
1 34.600 Andrew Bratt Toyota Supra
2 37.705 Mark Parsetich VW GTI-VR6
3 37.792 Jon Kerns VW GT-VR6
4 39.436 Eric Snyder VW GTI-VR6
5 39.804 Rodney Garman VW GTI-VR6
ESP      
1 37.383 Eric Pennington Chevrolet Camaro
2 37.411 Paul Lazaro Mitsubishi Eclipse GST
3 39.930 Sam White Ford Mustang LX 5.0
CP      
1 36.108 Paul Fox Chevrolet Corvair
DM      
1 33.812 Phil Wehman Caterham Super Seven
STS      
1 37.192 Ian Linn Honda Accord
2 37.233 Greg Murphy Honda Civic EX
3 37.885 Harold Hammerly Honda Civic
4 38.295 Chris McGuire VW Rabbit GTI
5 39.251 Joe LeBlanc VW Corrado VR6
6 39.728 Steve Gruber Acura Integra
7 41.605 James Lin Acura Integra GS
S      
1 31.431 Nick Hart Comet Mach 1
2 32.728 Dave Hart Comet Mach 1
3 35.127 Greg Nichols Emmick Express
S___      
1 38.360 Michael Hacker Chevy Cavalier
Indianapolis Region SCCA Solo II Points Event
16th Street Speedway April 16, 2000
Note: DQ indicates a disallowed result for failure to perform work assignment.
Place Time Name Vehicle
SS      
1 49.211 Kevin Klink Pontiac Formula WS6
2 55.238 Clark Howey Chevrolet Corvette
AS      
1 50.765 Steve Knitter Porsche 911 Cabriolet
2 51.121 Todd Houtz Porsche 944 Turbo
BS      
1 52.493 Jay Hofacker Mazda Miata
CS      
1 46.089 Clemens Burger Toyota MR2
2 49.252 Sean Murphy Pontiac Fiero
3 53.188 Jeff Alexander Toyota MR2
4 55.382 Darren Daubenspeck Mazda RX-7
DS      
1 48.772 Brian Gard Plymouth Neon ACR
2 49.920 Gustavo Hammerly Honda CRX SI
3 51.095 Dan Sellers Dodge Neon
DSL      
1 56.598 Valerie Gard Plymouth Neon ACR
ES      
1 51.903 Patrick Tipton VW Golf GTI
2 53.342 Les Ramirez Honda Civic
3 54.733 Brendon Hines Mazda MX6
4 55.789 Andrew Tipton VW GTI
5 59.541 David Burkhead Mitsubishi Eclipse
FS      
1 49.857 Andy Harmon Chev. Camaro Z28
2 54.277 David Johnson Chev. Camaro Z28
GS      
1 49.103 Harold Hammerly Acura
DQ 50.773 Chuck McClure Acura Integra Type R
2 52.932 Alan Ausbrooks Subaru Impreza RS
3 53.065 John Kudlaty Eagle Talon
DQ 53.961 Michael Robertson Ford Contour
DQ 54.183 Anthony Martino Acura Integra GS-R
DQ 55.123 Ellis Hines Acura Integra GSR
DQ 55.432 Wunji Lau Oldsmobile Alero
DQ 55.760 Kyle West Oldsmobile Alero
HS      
1 54.677 James Owens VW Jetta TDI
2 60.594 Dave Debolt Chevrolet Citation
ASP      
1 48.504 Jack Tovey Chevrolet Corvette
2 53.270 David Hawkins Mazda RX-7 Turbo
CSP      
1 51.389 Shane Benson Mazda MX5
2 51.671 Paul D'Angelo Mazda RX-7
3 52.577 James Allen
DSP      
1 47.504 Andrew Bratt Toyota Supra
2 49.467 David Horst Toyota Supra
3 49.861 Matt Sanders VW GTI VR6
4 52.694 Eric Snyder VW GTI-VR6
5 53.193 Ken Ka-Ki Chu VW Golf GTI-VR6
6 57.875 Charlie Kuo VW GTI-VR6
ESP      
1 50.375 Paul Lazaro Mitsubishi Eclipse GST
2 50.813 Eric Pennington Chevrolet Camaro
3 51.058 Douglas Schrum Mitsubishi Eclipse
4 51.804 Toby Cheng Chevy Camaro Z28
AP      
1 47.068 Lee Miller Pontiac Fiero
CP      
1 47.541 Paul Fox Chevrolet Corvair
DP      
1 45.914 Richard Atkins Fiat X/19
EP      
1 52.015 David Mason Honda Civic
2 54.805 Chris Foresman Honda CRX
DM      
1 46.096 Phil Wehman Caterham Super 7
EM      
1 45.241 Warren LeVeque Chevrolet Corvair
STS      
1 50.064 Ian Linn Honda Accord
2 50.080 Steve Linn Honda Accord
DQ 50.905 Greg Murphy Honda Civic EX
DQ 51.788 Alex Samardzich Honda Civic
3 51.903 Joe LeBlanc VW Corrado VR6
4 52.046 Chris McGuire VW Rabbit GTI
5 53.342 Joey Cruz Honda Civic
6 53.492 Steve Gruber Acura Integra
7 54.895 James Lin Acura Integra GS
8 55.803 Martin Ausbrooks Honda Accord
DQ 57.353 John - Card Not Returned  
DQ 58.048 Leonardo Bonuino Honda
N      
1 71.892 Nathan Peters Kart WideTrack
S      
1 44.324 Nick Hart Comet Mach 1
2 44.780 Dave Hart Comet Mach 1
3 50.344 Glenn Peters Comet Mach 1
4 55.821 Greg Nichols Emmick Express
N___      
1 43.082 Eric Robe Honda Accord
2 43.540 Michael Feder Mazda Miata
3 43.709 Loren Long BMW 328i
4 43.877 Rick Schultz Mazda Miata
5 44.637 Marc Kerr Pontiac Fiero
6 46.693 Tiffany Howey Chevrolet Corvette
S___      
1 41.970 Dennis Dunkman Honda Civic EX
2 42.710 Steven Schnelker Dodge Neon
3 42.803 Sean Harshey VW Scirocco
4 43.802 Sam White Ford Mustang LX

RALLY REPORT
By Chuck Hanson

The Daffodils & Dogwoods Rally was a highly successful joint venture between the Indianapolis and Columbus Regions. Fifteen teams participated and made it through all eight check points. Scores were excellent and I think that everybody had fun. Our thanks to Kurt, Lisa, Dustin, and Alex Weisner for putting this event together and to Jim Bredle for the loan of his Porsche / rally computer for the measurement of the course.

The second points event of the season is scheduled for Sunday, May 21. I have done the safety check of the course and can say that it is very interesting. Some of the questions are going to be quite challenging. Because of the scoring method there will be only two classes for this event: Experienced and Novice. See the published rules for your class. For their first effort, I think that Julie and Deanie have put together a really fun event.

These early season rallys are excellent opportunities for everybody to hone their rally skills without having to worry about getting lost. They are also an opportunity to see some pretty parts of Indiana. I hope that more of you will take advantage of these opportunities, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Indy Region Rally Points Event #2

THE OSCARS? RALLY

MAY 21, 2000

The start and finish of the event is at the McDonalds at the southwest corner of I-465 and SR37 (Harding Street) on the southwest side of Indianapolis. Look for the check point sign.

SCHEDULE:

Registration: 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Drivers Meeting: 1:00 PM promptly
First car receives route instructions: 1:00 PM
First car starts course: 1:31 PM
First car completes course: Approximately 4:30 PM

Members of SCCA: $10 Nonmembers: $20

Concept of the rally: This is an easy touring rally. All roads used on this rally are public roads and all are paved. All instructions will have official mileages, so there will be an odometer check zone to calibrate your odometer. Scoring will be by answering questions about things you see along the course.

For further information: Charles Hanson (317) 780 - 9007 (Leave a name and phone number if you get voice mail. I travel a lot.)

DAFFODILS & DOGWOODS

Pos./Class Names Points
1/1A Jim Bredle/Ken Osiecki 26T
2/1C Bob & Pam Farr 79T
3/2C Dan & Ann Cook 142
4/3C Richard & Janet Atkins 194
5/1N Paul Lazaro/Steve Berenyi 217T
6/1B Candice & Frank Pope 254T
7/2N John & Susan Ausbrooks 257T
8/3N Alan Ausbrooks/Andrea Hutson 257
9/4N Clint & Rachel Sigler 269
10/5N Arpad Pataki/Laszlo Tikk 278
11/4C David & Roberta DeBolt 285
12/2B King Doxsee/Don Reynolds 306
13/5C Jo & Bob Seymour 385
14/3B John Marshall/Roger Bland 462
15/6N Carolyn Goelz/KaAnne Morris 548

2000 RALLY SCHEDULE

May 21 The Oscars? Rally Julie Partridge & Deanie Joseph (Tour)
June 25   Dave & Roberta DeBolt (Map)
July 30 Wasatch Lake Rally Vic & Pat Brunamonti
Aug. 19   Bob Burns (twi-night)
Sept. 10   Frank & Candice Pope (Tour/Course)
Oct. 22   Ken Osieki (Tour)
Nov. 19   Dan Cook (Course)

ON THE ROAD AGAIN
With Aeron Hylton

I got to start off our local racing season this year because my first go kart race at Whiteland Raceway was before the first SCCA weekend. I was really nervous, but Mommy told me all about her first race, and Daddy kept talking to me about the things we had practiced. When the race started I was as excited as I can ever remember. I got 6th out of 7 in my heat and 5th in my feature. I told Daddy to look out because I was on my way.

He and Mommy and the rest of our grown up driver friends got started two weeks later at IRP. I must have gotten Daddy worried because he worked real hard and actually led the race in his Spec Racer and set the fastest lap. That’s the first time he’s ever done either of those things since he bought that car. He was in the lead when he spun off (he’s got some excuse about a loose part bouncing around in the foot well, if you want to believe that). He came back on in eighth and raced his way back up to second by the end. Along the way, he and Ray Dalton got together in the last turn. Daddy’s tail flew off and Ray’s radiator got busted so he didn’t finish. Darold Rude finished eighth. On the entry form where it says "sponsor", Darold writes "I wish." I think he’s trying to be funny. Mommy ran our old GTI in E Production. Last year it broke every time she tried. This time it lasted and she got fourth.

Renee Edwards started her second year of racing off right, winning Formula 500 and first overall in race 2. I hear the other family drivers, Tom and Fred Edwards Jr., did a super job as chief instructors for the Drivers School on Saturday. John Reisert and Mike Landon were third and sixth in Formula Vee. Steve Garrett had trouble and didn’t start the race. In race 3 Dave Thomas had a good run in his GTI and was second in Improved Touring B. Ralph Porter and Larry Lefebvre brought their National Racing cars out for practice in Showroom Stock C. Ralph only ran 6 laps in the race, and Larry got the win.

In race 4 Fred Hasselbrinck won Club Formula Continental, and Ralph Johnson won Formula Ford. Paul Reineck was second in Formula Ford. Terrence Garrett gave up on being kinda-sorta-a-little-bit retired, and took his new Sports 2000 Swift through the drivers school as a refresher and was second in the race. I don’t think it handles like his old familiar Vee. Yngvar Brynildssen let Dave Hart borrow his American Sedan Mustang for the school, and Dave had lots of fun. Then, Yngvar drove it to third on Sunday. Charles Bushor Sr. did the school in a Firebird, and Charles Jr. ran the race, but did not finish.

In the last race Robert Hunt took third in his Improved Touring S Datsun, and Alan Knell did the same in the new Baby Grand class. Scott Jeffers got fifth in Improved Touring A. Jason Baugh passed the school in his ITS Mazda, but only did one lap in the race. Other local drivers who went through the school included Mark Maynard in a Baby Grand, Robert Redman in an ITA Mazda, Wayne Van Vlymen in his brother’s Mazda, Bruce Shire in a Formula 500, and Pete McNamara in a Club Formula Continental.

DUMPSTER DIVING WITH DENT
by Larry Dent

Well, Lola has broken my heart. Perhaps next month I will be able to write all about it, but for now here is THE SPEECH I WISH I'D MADE.

I decided to go to the driving school at IRP to get some meaningful seat time in my quest for success with the new Lola Sports 2000. I did not have to go back to school, but the 3 hours of track time was attractive after a considerable absence from driving, so I went. Even went to the Friday night classroom, although I could have taught the class. I was NICELY told by one of my fellow stewards that I should keep my mouth shut and not intimidate the "newbees". In the midst of a lot of explanations of the complexity of the SCCA I was introduced by an instructor that only knew me as a steward. He did not know of my driving past but only as "a steward that wanted to get a feel for how it was on the other side as a driver" I quietly acknowledged the intended complement and said nothing. Here is what I wish I had said.

"Actually I was a driver for 20 some years before I became a steward. Drove regionals to Trans-Am's, 24 minute races to 24 hour races, 12 laps to 12 hours, club to pro events, and enjoyed it all. I also have served in almost every office the club has, from Regional Executive to Area 4 Governor (Director). I was a driver 20 some years and an official some 35 years, and was the Insurance Agent for the SCCA for 3 years with K and K Insurance. I even met my wife Linda when she flunked my Lotus at tech at Mid Ohio in 1968. I have enjoyed every minute of it all.

When I look at all your faces, some a little innocent (well maybe one), some furrowed with concern with what you are hearing, and what you are about to do, I would like to offer a little advice from one who has been almost everywhere with SCCA, and has done almost everything.

HAVE FUN. SCCA can be many things to many people. It is a sport, a hobby, a passion, sometimes even a way of life, but if it is not FUN it will lose it's meaning.

You will get back from SCCA much more than you put in. If you choose to be a mean, nasty driver that hassles registration, argues with grid, drives too fast in the paddock, passes on yellow, you will get that attitude and those actions back in spades. AND you won't have any FUN.

If you have a positive attitude, smile a lot, say thanks, I'm sorry when appropriate, and of course don't pass on yellow, you will find that you not only will have fun, but your crew, your wife, your fellow competitors and even the Chief Steward will all HAVE FUN.

If driving is your thing, you can go a long way, but if not, there are all the programs that have been talked about here, plus many more, all of which are FUN.

If I could grant you few simple wishes this evening, they would be, be patient, be safe, be courteous, get a good sponsor, don't miss any yellow flags, when you're tired of driving, find another nitch, but above all else, HAVE FUN."

Cheers, From the Dumpster

Solo Is: Requiem for the Lightweights
By Warren LeVeque

Due do the same genetic defect that all of we car nuts have, I’ve developed some strange reading habits. When leafing through any car test magazine (I surely must take them all), I go immediately to the section of the test which gives the specifications and look for the curb weight. If the car is not under 2500 pounds, I immediately lose interest. Porsches used to weigh 2700, now 3200. Even the Lotus Espirit is over 3000 pounds.

I’m not impressed by the things that are added onto the cars, but what is taken off in the design stage in the name of performance. Electronics don’t really add performance. Air flow adds performance. Electronics just makes it efficient and environmentally friendly. Huge tires, huge wheels, and huge brakes are added because they are necessary to control a grossly overweight car. If the engineer didn’t do a good job of designing a light car, then the above things are added to compensate. Also, the public seems to like it this way. It’s very salable.

Light cars do everything better. There is just less mass to deal with. The tactile feeling of response in a light car is great. The huge brakes add more than just their weight. The discs are huge flywheels which have to be stopped and started, which requires more power and tires and more weight.

Also in the category of engineering misfits are traction and braking aids which are band-aids or cover-ups. Four wheel drive, traction control, active suspension, and ABS braking are all used because the car wasn’t designed according to the laws of Physics. My education background is engineering, math, and physics. Therefore, I can’t help myself from looking at things this way.

If you put the engine/drivetrain somewhere other than over the driven wheels, then you have designed in the need for band-aids. Front wheel drive, while useful in the snow, offers no performance help. Putting all of the weight at one end of the car doesn’t help the polar moment either. The weight transfers off of the drive wheels during acceleration. The weight transfers onto the already overloaded front brakes during deceleration. The rear brakes are useless (for marketing reasons, disc brakes are on the rear of cars whose wheels are nearly off of the ground under braking) and are made more so by proportioning valves and rear ABS. Performance cars (?) that start out as front wheel drive add four wheel drive to overcome this problem, and the weight goes up! This requires even larger tires, engine and brakes due to the added weight and the weight goes up even more! How about 4000 pound Mitsubishi 3000 GTs? There used to be economy cars weighing around 1800 pounds. Now it’s surprising to see a Honda civic under 2400 pounds. The popularity of SCCA H/S used to be based on these light and nimble cars.

I saw a show recently about Japanese built drag racers. They had devised hydraulic wheelie bars to combat wrong weight transfer--unbelievable. People will make anything work. What else do they have to work with?

A big disappointment to me as a former GM employee is the size and weight of Corvettes and Camaros. I know that they are a bargain in the bang for the buck, but they are huge 3500 lb., 2 passenger cars. Putting a V6 into an already heavy car gains (loses?) very little. It needs to be designed around the smaller engine and components. If you start out with large components, then the vicious cycle starts and bigness begets bigness. How about starting with S-10 truck components?

The simple F =MA formula shows that it takes less energy to control a light object in fore, aft, and lateral accelerations. Colin Chapman got fantastic performance out of lightweight cars with small engines, wheels, brakes, and tires, with no power accessories. Although he did say that he could make a barn go fast if he had enough cubic inches and tires. I think that we have witnessed this concept in C/P autocross class. I know it is hard to have 1500 lb. Lotus Elans today, but we have computer design and exotic light materials to balance the Government mandated safety devices. Isn’t the new Lotus Elise around 1800 lb. before GM gets hold of it and makes it 2500 lb. Actually the Mazda Miata could be thought of as a modern Elan weighing around 2200 lb. with good balance and small wheels, brakes, tires, and engine. It has great performance.

The Fiero and Toyota MR2s were laid out correctly, but somehow got too heavy. At least they transfer weight onto the drive wheels under acceleration and evenly distribute the weight under braking. They also shouldn’t need power brakes, powersteering, traction control or four wheel drive. Oh, that’s right they’re laid out just like all of the purpose built racecars in the world. Yes, NASCAR is big heavy cars, but they only run against themselves so there is no performance comparison. Surely, you don’t think that they look nimble on a road course? There’s no reason why a sedan couldn’t be laid out exactly the same way as a Fiero with a trunk in the front and back. Aren’t front and rear trunks deformable energy absorbing structures?

In my own small area of interest is a good example, i.e, the Corvair sedan. This huge 108 inch wheelbase car only weighed 2550 lb. with a 2700cc 6 cylinder engine. What does an equivalent car weigh today? Yes I know the 3200 lb. equivalents have more safety features, but also have modern design methods. I think that the laws of physics were ignored for marketing reasons. I can’t blame them for producing what sells. The rear overhung engine is correct for weight distribution (acceleration and braking), but the rear mass is wrong for centrifugal force (high speed cornering). The Fiero/MR2 layout is better.

Still, when heavy powerful engines are put in the back seat of Corvairs (theoretically better), the added higher center of gravity weight seems to take the advantage away. When the necessary radiator, stronger drive train, heavier suspension, larger wheels, tires, and brakes are added, this 3200 lb. car is subject to the laws of physics and is no faster in any mode than a Corvair prepared in the lightening manner. The Corveight is still a hoot to drive, but there is a lesson here. I hope that the allowed new lower weight for the racing Corvairs will allow me to put my money where my mouth is. Of course, there is still that little cubic inch discrepancy and the polar moment thing.

Surely you’ve noticed how certain Marques of cars have slowly gained weight and then disappeared from the market. Light Datsun 240Z, then heavier 280Z, then 300 ZX, then gone. Light Toyota MR2, then heavier, then gone. Light Mazda RX7, then heavier, then heavier still, then gone.

I guess the thing to do is watch for the introduction of a lightweight car, and buy it before the poundage and disappearing starts. Get a light and nimble car before we hear the requiem.