The Indy Racing League, or IRL, is a sanctioning body for open-wheel auto racing in America. Best known for the popular Indianapolis 500, the IRL endorses the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and, as of 2010, the U.S. F2000 National Championship.
Tony George was responsible for the establishment of the IRL back in 1994, with racing beginning in 1996. George’s goal was to found a lower-cost alternative to CART, which was only accessible to wealthy teams who could afford the expensive technology. As of 2008 Champ Car racing (previously CART) was merged into the IRL.
IndyCar vehicles look similar to open-wheeled formula racing cars, featuring wings and large airboxes. The cars have strict specifications, with all cars using the same parts. Every three years, the chassis and engine manufacturers are reviewed. Originally built just for oval racing, the new generation of IndyCar machines are made to deal with road racing too.
The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, or Indy 500, takes place each Memorial Day weekend at America’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One of the oldest motorsport races, the Indy 500 draws large crowds each year. It is an event avid racing fans would not want to miss. Winners of the Indianapolis 500 have included Dario Franchitti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Rick Mears, Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish, Jr. Scott Dixon, and others.
The Champ Car World Series, which was formerly known as Championship Auto Racing Teams or CART is the name of an Open Wheel World Championship auto racing series. It replaced CART in 2004 after the Championship Auto Racing Teams Inc. filed for bankruptcy. Roger Penske, Pat Patrick and Dan Gurney originally founded the organization in 1978 along with several other team owners who had been regularly participating in various CART and IndyCar events.
Originally CART oversaw the sanctioning of Champ Car racing in the US, Canada, Mexico and Australia. Today the Champ Car World Series performs this task. Championship Car racing differs from Formula One (or F1) racing in many ways, although the cars themselves may appear very similar to the casual eye. For example, Champ Car racing usually takes place on oval tracks, cars are permitted turbocharged engines and the cars use methanol for fuel rather than gasoline. In addition, Champ Cars are about 15% heavier than F1 cars and have sculpted undersides that produce ground-hugging forces – a practice banned by the Formula One governing board in 1982. Perhaps the main difference in the two types of racing is the expense: Formula One being a much more costly endeavor due to the requirement that teams build and prepare their own chassis. Champ Car teams source their cars’ chassis from a number of independent suppliers, which fosters competition and keeps costs down.
Most modern Champ Cars use turbocharged engines built by Ford Cosworth. Although only displacing 162 cubic inches, these methanol-fueled powerhouses put out an astonishing 850 horsepower in full racing trim – enough to propel the 1,550-pound Champ Cars to a pavement-blistering 240 mph!
A1 Grand Prix
A1 Grand Prix is a new international motor racing series that conducted its first full season in 2005. Although open-wheel cars somewhat similar to those used in Formula One and Indy car racing are used, there are significant differences between A1 racing and other types of auto racing. The main difference is that drivers compete for their nation instead of for a private team or constructor. Each competing nation uses identical cars, with the hope that this will provide a level playing field for drivers to compete in. The main points of A1 racing are that driver skill should be the determining factor for success, and that one of the participating nations will be awarded the championship at the end of each racing season.
A1 racecars are identical mechanically, each comprising a Lola-designed chassis weighing 600kg and shod with Cooper 370/660R13 racing slicks. The engine, built by Zytek, is a 3.4 litre V8 engine with performance limitations that can be circumvented by the driver by pushing a “boost button” on the steering wheel. Although 30 franchises were made available before the first season of A1 racing in 2005-06, 25 nations ended up taking part. Each team has 2 drivers and teams are free to change their drivers from race to race. The top 10 placed teams in each race are awarded points, on a decreasing scale, with the winning team receiving 10 points, second place 9 points, and so on down to tenth place which receives a single point. In addition, one extra point is awarded to the team that sets the fastest lap of race day. These points are awarded to the nation, not the driver. Prize money awarded ranges from $10,000 to $300,000.
The very first A1 Grand Prix race was the A1 Grand Prix of Nations Great Britain, which took place on September 25, 2005 at the historic Brands Hatch circuit in Kent. The A1 format calls for “race weekends” comprising two individual races to be held in a total of 12 rounds, making up 24 races in total. The first A1 Grand Prix world championship was awarded to A1 Team France.
In the inaugural 2005-06 racing season, A1 Grand Prix races took place at racetracks including the Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates, the Shanghai International Circuit in China, EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany and Laguna Seca raceway in the USA.
Formula One Grand Prix
Formula One auto racing is one of the longest running series of auto racing. What is considered to be the World Drivers Championship and World Constructors Championship was organized in the late 1940s with the first formal F1 race being run in 1950. Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio was the dominant drivers in F1’s first decade, winning the championship 5 times. The decade of the 1960s belonged to British and Commonwealth drivers. Team Lotus featured legendary drivers such as Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill. As F1 cars continued to improve technologically, safety issues began to become a source of concern. Various restrictions were put on features of the cars’ design, for example the banning of turbocharged engines in 1989 and of various traction and suspension aids in 1994. Formula One racing is known to be the most expensive form of auto racing. This is due to the requirement that each team construct the chassis for its cars. Only then can engines made by manufactures such as BMW, Honda or Ford Cosworth be added to complete the cars. Another major expense is the deposit new F1 teams must place with FIA, the sport’s organizing body. This $50 million fee is gradually repaid over the course of the racing season, but as an “entry fee” it’s some chunk of change! These days, Formula One events are run in countries around the world. Even China and Bahrain have hosted recent races. Drivers such as Fernando Alonso, Kimi Rï¿½ikkï¿½nen and Juan Pablo Montoya vie to become the next legendary Formula One champion, succeeding the modern era’s most successful driver, Germany’s Michael Schumacher.
The 2006 Formula One season contains 18 races beginning with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 12 and ending with the Brazilian Grand Prix on October 22.
The 2007 Formula One season is scheduled to contain 21 races beginning with the Australian Grand Prix in March and winding up with the Brazilian Grand Prix in October. Some of the notable “non-country” races on the schedule include the European Grand Prix and the Pacific Grand Prix. Grand Prix races will also be held in San Marino and Monaco.
Rally racing is an immensely popular form of automobile racing that takes place on public roads, off-road trails and in some cases uncharted desert wastes. Rallying is done with customized production cars specifically modified to handle anything and everything that could happen on any sort of surface.
This exceptional motorsport is very different than the NASCAR or Formula One-style circuit racing many people are familiar with. The participants in a rally race compete in a point-to-point format where drivers and their co-drivers (or navigators) “rally” to a set of points, leaving in regular intervals from set starting points. Rally is also unique in that races take place on all types of road surfaces and in all weather or climate conditions. Asphalt (tarmac), gravel, sand, snow & ice; all surfaces are valid and sometimes rally racers encounter more than one on a single rally. You can find rallies being run in every month of the year and in every climate, from bitter arctic cold to drenching monsoon rain to scorching desert heat.
A typical rally course consists of a sequence of relatively short (up to about 50 kilometers) timed “special stages” where the actual competition takes place, and un-timed “transport stages” where the rally cars must be driven under their own power to the next competitive stage within a generous time limit. The need for the cars to be driven on public roads in the un-timed stages means that they must be “street legal”, and this factor adds to their popularity with rally fans. Generally a rally will have 20 drivers and 20 co-drivers competing. Rally racing is also a great entry-level sport for amateur racers, as few modifications need to be made to most production cars in order for them to compete in a car rally.
Dozens of Rally Racing events take place around the world. Some of the more notable car rallies are the Monte Carlo Rally, the Acropolis Rally, the Paris Dakar Rally, the Carrera Panamericana and of course the World Rally Championship.
IndyCar is most often used as a generic term for open-wheel auto racing in the United States National Championship, and comes from the name of the Indianapolis 500, the best known and long most-popular open-wheel auto race in North America. There are many drivers competing in a single race and can be up to 50. Points awarded range form 50 points to the winner and scales down to 10 points to the one in 33rd place. Prize money ranges from about $3 000 to about $300 000.