Timing and Scoring in IndyCar Racing

April 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Many auto racing fans follow the IndyCar Series with great interest, whether in person at the various race tracks, or as armchair spectators. In competitive racing split-second timing is essential to determine results, and IndyCar Racing has a state-of-the-art timing and scoring system which ensures that results are accurate to the ten-thousandth of a second.

Each car is fitted with a radio transponder that has a unique identification number. This transponder is installed 33 inches from the tip of the nose cone of the car on the left hand side of the driver. At multiple strategic points located around the track, detection loop antennas are buried in the track surface. These antennas detect the transponder as the car passes and record the identification number and the passing time of each car. Each antenna is connected to a trackside decoder that records the information and relays it to the timing and scoring booth. In the timing and scoring booth, primary and secondary scoring computers (or servers) process the incoming information to determine the results of a session. The computers record the results of each session and all data relating to each individual identification number, including times achieved over predetermined sections of the track as programmed into the system.

In addition to the main electronic timing system of transponder and antenna, a high-speed camera, taking a picture every ten-thousandth of a second, is used to record all activity past the start/finish line. As a further back-up, two high frame rate cameras, which are connected to a digital video system, are used to record start/finish passings. As a final back-up, individual serial scorers provide a written manual scoring record of all start/finish line passings. These timing methods have proven to be invaluable in determining placements in races where the difference can be as little as .005 of a second.

To ensure that each team is aware of what is happening throughout the race, the scoring computers send live timing data to the team’s pit stand. All the data which is recorded at every race event is made available via the internet to interested parties, including teams, race officials and manufacturers.

Based on data collected during an IndyCar Series race, points are awarded to the first 33 competitors, with first place receiving 50 points, and the number of points decreasing per placement. Additionally, three bonus points are awarded to the competitor who leads the most laps in each race.

The fact that such precise timing measures need to be in place is an indication of how fierce the competition is in the IndyCar Series – and auto racing in general. It is this competitive spirit that serves to increase the excitement of a racing event, and keeps auto racing fans coming back for more.

IMPAXX – Safety Innovation of the Year

November 20, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

An international panel of auto racing experts has given the Safety Innovation of the Year Award to Dow Automotive for their IMPAXX energy absorbing foam. The announcement was made at the gala dinner for the annual Professional Motor Sport World Expo Awards recently.

IMPAXX is thermoplastic foam which is engineered to absorb energy upon impact by compressing, buckling and displaying controlled fractures during the process of absorbing energy. The decision of the experts was largely based on the successful application and performance qualities that IMPAXX has exhibited when used as a passive safety feature in NASCAR‘s new generation “Car of Tomorrow” (COT) race cars which have been designed to be safer, cheaper and more competitive.

Dow Automotive is a leading provider of technologically advanced solutions to meet consumer requirements in a wide and diverse field, including vehicle safety. IMPAXX is the result of more than eighteen months research and development, with the Dow Automotive technical team working alongside NASCAR’s experts. Using NASCAR as a high speed laboratory, Dow Automotive has been able to continually improve the attributes of a product to the benefit of all concerned. IMPAXX foam has proven to possess energy absorbing qualities which have significantly contributed to the safety of NASCAR drivers.

In addition to having a high degree of impact absorption capability, IMPAXX is flexible, durable, light-weight and performs consistently in temperature extremes. Currently NASCAR installs IMPAXX between the roll cage door bars and in the door panels of their COT race cars. They see IMPAXX as a highly effective safety feature that they plan to make extensive use of it in the future.

Energy management technologies are important factors for designers and engineers who want to ensure that impact energy is directed through and around the vehicle. Currently close to two million passenger cars on a world-wide scale are equipped with IMPAXX for its safety characteristics. An added feature of IMPAXX is that it reduces packing space by close to forty percent, thereby allowing greater freedom in the design process. This shows, once again, that many new innovative products which are tested on the racetrack ultimately move to the road.

Development of the New Jersey Motorsports Park

October 2, 2007 by  
Filed under News

Exciting times are ahead for the residents of Milville, New Jersey in the United States, and especially for motorsport enthusiasts. The construction of the New Jersey Motorsports Parkis well underway. Situated on more than 500 acres of land at the intersection of Dividing Creek Road and Buckshutem Road, the New Jersey Motorsports Park will feature two separate world-class racetracks and a first class carting circuit. In addition, there will be a clubhouse and all the amenities necessary to cater in style to the needs of auto racing fans as well as the drivers.

The Southern Road Circuit will be called “Thunderbolt Raceway” and will be the nucleus raceway of the New Jersey Motorsports Park, with over 2,25 miles of track, a half a mile straightway, fourteen challenging turns plus more than forty acres of service paddock space. The amenities available on this circuit will include event garages, banquet rooms, twenty VIP suites and a three storey timing tower complete with media center and VIP facilities.

The Northern Circuit has been named “Lightning” and this 1.9 mile racetrack promises to be fast and challenging, with ten dramatic corners as well as exciting elevation changes. With a twenty acre paddock area, four acre skid pad and autocross area, timing towers, concession areas, as well as meeting room facilities, the Lightning circuit is a fully self-contained racetrack.

The 1.1 mile carting track will be connected to the Lightening circuit. This exceptional facility will feature eight configurations, with many that can run simultaneously. All eight configurations can be run either counter clockwise or clockwise, providing drivers with constant challenges to improve their driving skills.

A members-only Driver’s Club will be a prominent feature of the New Jersey Motorsports Park. Members will have the opportunity to enjoy the exclusive, spacious clubhouse with facilities that include a tennis court, swimming pool, restaurant and comfortable bar area. What better way to end an exciting day than to relax and enjoy all the luxuries that the Driver’s Club has to offer.

Apart from the excellent facilities available to all auto racing fans, the New Jersey Motorports Park will also feature amenities for companies to use as corporate hospitality venues and for team building. The New Jersey Motorsports Park is scheduled to open in June 2008, so start making your plans now to enjoy this exciting new auto racing venue.

The Texas Motor Speedway

June 21, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

The very first NASCAR event at the Texas Motor Speedway had a crowd to full capacity, which is an indicator of the popularity of this auto and motor bike racing track, just outside the exciting city of Fort Worth. The company which owns the site has responded with continuous upgrades and improvements for better quality racing, though the track is only of 1995 vintage. The turns now have uniform 24-degree turns, doing away with the original discrepancy of just 8-degree banks for specialized racing automobiles. The best NASCAR drivers aim to set speed records at this 1.5 mile track: Brian Vickers holds the record for the Texas Motor Speedway, having clocked over 196 miles per hour in a 2006 event.

The Samsung and Radio Shack 500 and the Dickies 500 are the two most famous Nextel Cup races at the Texas Motor Speedway. The Busch Series and the Indy Racing League also adorn this track each year, apart from the NASCAR events. Auto racing fans flock to Fort Worth in record numbers each year, and the Texas Motor Speedway goes the extra mile to keep every spectator delighted!

Corporate sponsorship is a big draw at this track, and there are many elegant opportunities to keep prized clients happy here. The entire track can also be rented for film shoots and for special events on days without racing. The Media Center also has an attractive layout and is replete with thoughtful touches and amenities.

This is not to say that the Texas Motor Speedway ignores small guys! Facilities for individuals and for small groups, on the contrary, rank amongst the best on the NASCAR circuit. You can even take a bus from downtown Fort Worth to the race track, with special discounts on ticket fares on NASCAR days. The camping facilities are out of this world, and there is plenty to see and do before races and between events. Spectators can visit pits, interact with drivers, and even take laps on the track in their own cars. The latter facility is used to raise money for charities for children. You can have a good time for a noble cause at the Texas Motor Speedway!

The First Indy 500

May 23, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

As millions of auto racing fans shift into high gear for the 91st Indianapolis 500 race on May 27 of 2007, let’s take a moment to reflect back on the humble beginnings of this historic race.

The very first Indy 500 took place a mere 2 years after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened in 1909 and was the first major race hosted by race promoters led by track owner Carl G. Fisher. The idea of a 500-mile race had crossed Fisher’s mind earlier, but frequent accidents, injuries and several deaths blamed on the race track’s original tar & gravel surface prompted a major overhaul. Approximately 3.2 million bricks were set into the oval track, from which the nickname “The Brickyard” is derived. The inaugural “International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race” took place on Memorial Day, May 30 of 1911 in front of over 80,000 race fans who paid a mere $1 each to attend.

The race itself was tremendously exciting, regardless of the fact that speeds were low by modern day standards and most cars carried both a driver AND a riding mechanic who also assisted with navigation. The one car without an on-board mechanic was #32, the Marmon “Wasp” driven by 1910 AAA season champion Ray Harroun who came out of retirement to race in the very first Indy 500. Harroun mounted an innovative new device on his bright yellow racer: a “rear view mirror” that allowed him to dispense with the riding mechanic – and a lot of extra weight. Although the official rules mandated the use of a riding mechanic, Harroun appealed and in a decision that provoked heated controversy was allowed to race solo with his dash-mounted mirror.

Flying over the bricks on Firestone tires, Harroun averaged an astounding (for the era) 74.602 miles per hour over the 500 miles. When the checkered flag was waved, Harroun was declared the first winner of a race that was shortly to become an American tradition. Notably, Harroun never raced again, nor did his yellow “Wasp” which may be viewed today in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

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