Thursday, a Test Day
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Jan Magnussen started the weekend in a Swift chassis driving
for Patrick Racing. He started the race on Sunday driving a Reynard
made from parts of various vintages. He crashed and did not finish
Here's a close up of the Swift front wing. Notice the carefully
sculptured Gurney on the trailing edge. The cars had to run the
speedway wing specs and the designers are trying to get all the
downforce they can from the small wings.
The hot rumor of the weekend was that Newman-Haas Racing would
run Lolas next year and Carl Haas would become the exclusive
U.S. Lola distributor again. This after he and Lola parted company
with a law suit a few years ago. I even heard a rumor that Mark
Handford, technical director at Swift would go to work for Lola
and Lola would buy Swift.
If Newman-Haas has given up on the Swift chassis that means
that none of the teams that have bought them are still using
them regularly. That includes Della Penna and Team Gordon. Patrick
Racing is still trying to develop a Swift but is using Reynards
most of the time.
Supposedly there are two "big" teams still considering
buying Swift chassis for next season. If it's true that Newman-Haas
is abandoning Swift and neither of those other teams makes the
Swift decision, the Southern California company might be done
with their Big Car project.
Many people will say that Carl Haas will use whatever chassis
he can make money on. Lola suffered from the perception that
N-H got all the good development parts from Lola before the customer
teams. That idea has persisted with Swift. In actuality N-H funded
a separate aero program at Lola because then Lola head Eric Broadley
believed that suspension development was the design priority,
not aerodynamics. Carl was paying for those parts that everybody
thought were factory parts. The same perception has dogged Swift.
Why would Lola get back in bed with Carl Haas? I don't think
they will. They might sleep in the same house though. I think
Haas will become the parts distributor and Lola U.S. in Indianapolis
will continue to sell the cars to the teams. Time will tell.
Roberto Moreno sits in a Newman-Haas Swift awaiting the start
of the practice session. The sun has broken through the clouds.
Moreno has earned the nickname "Supersub" for his stellar
performances replacing injured drivers. In most cases he's out-performed
his teammate and finished races better than the guy he's replacing.
It's hard to believe he doesn't have a steady ride.
Scott Pruett is in his Arciero-Wells, Toyota-powered Reynard
waiting to go on track. John Dick, his engineer, is the guy in
glasses. Pete Hansell, ex-All American Racers, is the other engineer.
John worked with Paul Tracy at Team Green last year and the start
of the '99 season. After Long Beach he jumped ship for Arciero-Wells.
Scott Pruett started the season with Ken Anderson as his engineer.
Scott seems to have improved after John arrived. Must be that
engineer/driver "chemistry" thing.
This is Greg Moore in Turn 4. I stood there and watched for
a while and I saw a significant bump that affected the rear of
the cars if the driver got just a little high. I also thought
I could see the cars rotate a little bit just after mid-corner.
The rear end seemed to move out just a bit. I asked another person
standing there to see if I was imagining it, but he said he thought
he could see it too. Maybe the rear tires went to a slightly
higher slip angle when the driver got back on the throttle.
Diane Holl is the engineering manager at Forsythe Championship
Racing which used to be Tasman Racing. Their driver, Tony Kanaan,
got his first CART win this year at Michigan. Diane planned a
wind tunnel program that came up with some interesting aero tweaks.
I wasn't at Michigan so I don't know if there was something trick
on the cars there.
That's Don Halliday, Dario Franchitti's engineer in the middle
looking over his glasses at the monitors. Kim Green, team manager
is on the right. During the Mid-Ohio TV program, announcer Parker
Johnstone said Don Halliday had "found something" that
was the reason for Dario's fine performance this year. When I
saw Don at Chicago I told him what Parker had said and congratulated
him on finding "something." Don laughed and said, "Good,
maybe I won't have to work so hard now."
I know Parker didn't mean it that way but some people would
rather believe in magic than hard work.
After his session in the car Max Papis uses his hands to help
describe what the car was doing.
Helio Castro-Neves had the best time in the Thursday am session
with a lap of 24.439 seconds. Roberto Moreno was third and Robby
Gordon driving an AAR Eagle was fifth-quick with a 25.141.