New Batmobile Struggles To Reach 220 At Indy, But Help Is On The Way

Speedway, IN: As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened for practice Saturday leading up to the 96th running of the “500”, the all new Dallara DW12 (aka: “The Batmobile”) seemed hard-pressed to topple the 220 MPH barrier. However, according to IndyCar officials, help is on the way.

A few days ago, it was announced that a turbocharger boost increase of 10 inches (from the normal 130 kPa to 140 kPa) would be allowed beginning Fast Friday, May 18 through qualifying weekend. Thus, with the meer turn of a screw, approximately 50 horsepower will be added to the Honda, Chevy and Lotus turbocharged powerplants. This should result in a gain of several MPH per lap over any speed attained in practice prior to Friday.

The good news: with this adjustment, it’s possible that the new ‘Batmobiles’ may possibly be able to challenge Alex Tagliani’s 2011 Pole speed of over 227 MPH. This would add credibility to the new Dallara DW12 and, hopefully excitement would be ramped-up for Time Trials. And, of course, this is the main goal.

The bad news: by not allowing the the teams the opportunity to run the increased boost all week, the drivers may not have time to fully utilize the extra power. It could, in fact, add an unexpected element of danger, with more power and not much time to work with it. Further, the speeds attained during the first six days of practice become virtually meaningless.

One of the gray-beard fans I spoke to Opening Day summed it up rather well. “Guess there’s no point going out to the Speedway to watch practice until Fast Friday; no “hot laps” until then”, he growled. Indeed.

On one hand, you have to give credit to the IndyCar and Speedway officials for attempting to instill buzz and excitement for Qualifications, especially with IndyCar fighting for it’s place in the motorsports world. A few years ago, changes were made in time trial procedures, including the implementing of the “Fast Nine Shoot-Out”, as well as almost unlimited bumping among the qualifiers. Many of these changes to Pole and Bump days have been well received, and have helped create a much-needed new excitement.

On the other hand, adding horsepower only for Fast Friday and Time Trials seems artificial and contrived; especially considering that the teams will have to “dial back” the boost 10 inches for the Race itself.

If one of the goals is to increase interest and attendance during not only Time Trials and the Race, but practice days as well, this may not be the way to do it.

We’ll see.

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