Observations From IndyCar Weekend At Road America

[John Wiedemann photo]

[John Wiedemann photo]

by Pete Gorski

Hitting a fuel number is a big part of racing, and discussion of “lift-and-coast” or “fuel save” is frequently heard on broadcasts. It was clear early on in Sunday’s race that Scott Dixon was on a fuel-save strategy, his revs down and his speed through Turn Six noticeably slower.

While the Sonsio IndyCar Grand Prix was the main event of the weekend, all three levels of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires raced multiple times throughout the weekend. It was interesting to watch their trap speeds as they entered Turn Five. The leaders in the USF 2000 series were hitting 138mph on the approach to the braking zone. Indy Pro 2000 were a bit quicker, but not as much as you might expect — 145mph. The final rung, Indy Lights, produced the biggest jump, hitting 171mph.

Road America Weekend Slideshow

The USF 2000 and Pro 2000 engines sound like you’d expect 2.0-liter race engines to sound — buzzy and a little angry. The Indy Lights engines however pop and crackle like a line of snare drummers warming up before a performance.

Another support series, the Blue Marble Radical Cup run similar looking cars as far as bodywork is concerned, but the liveries are often quite unique and expressive. There was a Williams F1-inspired Canon color scheme, a fractalish camouflage pattern, and what I swear was a Scooby-Doo Bigfoot-looking villain.

When you’re photographing an event, whether it’s a performance on a stage or a race, you really only see what’s happening in your viewfinder. But shooting into the exit of Turn Five on Sunday, the packed grandstands provided all the context needed, with the fans cheering a daring pass or gasping as a car dropped a wheel in the grass. It was easy to get caught up in the excitement of the race based on their reactions.

The DW12s of IndyCar come through Turn Seven the smoothest and quickest (it appears) of all the pro series cars that run at Road America. Very little curbing is used, and the turn is deeper and sharper.

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