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Motorsport history Indycar Milwaukee: The oldest car race in the world

Reuters, Zautke
Motorsport history Indycar Milwaukee
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K do you call the Milwaukee Mile? Probably not. It is one of the innumerable one-mile ovals in America. That does not yet qualify the racecourse on the western edge of the beer metropolis in Wisconsin for an entry in the book of records. But Milwaukee has a rating that more famous racetracks lack. The oldest race in the world is not the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1923), not the 500 miles of Indianapolis (1911) and not the Grand Prix of Monaco (1929), but the circuit around the Milwaukee Mile. Since 1903, a car race has always been held on the former horse racing track.

Jim Clark shocked the Yankees

The mini-arena became famous through the IndyCars of different eras. Until 1953 there was still a dirt track around the Green Bay Packers football stadium. Then came the asphalt and the modern cars. Only the brick paddock tunnel and the brick building behind the main stand still bear the patina of the old days.

The first IndyCar winner in 1956 was a certain Pat Flaherty, who also won the Indianapolis 500 that year. In 1963, in his Lotus-Ford, Jim Clark shocked the incorrigible, who believed that a decent racing car should have the engine up front. For the first time, a winning car was fitted on an oval with an engine behind the driver. The Americans ridiculed the intruders from Europe as 'funny cars'. A year later, the establishment fought back one last time. AJ Foyt marked the last success of the dying breed of front-engined roadster with his Watson-Offy.

No rain race on oval courses

Many things happened for the first or only time in Milwaukee. In 1933 it rained on race day. The drivers convinced the organizer that it would be more sensible to wait for better weather. The race took place a day later. Since then, oval courses have not been used in the rain. In 1982 there was a race without a caution period. A rarity on oval courses. A year later, Tom Sneva won, was disqualified and reinstated as the winner two weeks later. Despite an illegal car. His March-Cosworth had too little ground clearance. In 1991 only Andrettis stood on the podium. Michael won ahead of his cousin John and head of the family Mario. With five wins, Michael Andretti is the King of Milwaukee. todayhe plays a dual role as the owner of the racing team and promoter of the race.

So it was no coincidence that four Andretti drivers were in the top five starting positions in 2013. And the experience of the team boss plays a role. “In the final section I had the best car in traffic. While my opponents were pinned to a line, I could go where I wanted in the corners.

Up, down, this thing stuck to the road. 'His boss beamed:' The old Milwaukee tricks always work The three-time Milwaukee triumphant Hunter-Reay even went so far as to say: “Only an Indy win is better.” Penske and Ganassi no longer share the victories among themselves. If there is one team that stands out in 2013, it is Andretti Autosport. “We don't work harder, but now we know better what we have to work on,” says Marco Andretti, taking stock.

Milwaukee is a special one Oval

Milwaukee has a special place among all ovals. The curves are only nine degrees banked. This means that other laws than in the oval also apply. “You drive with more downforce and therefore also feel more turbulence. Overtaking is more difficult. The tires suffer more because the car slips more because of the slight elevation in the corners, ”explains second-placed Helio Castroneves. That's why nobody likes to give up their position in the race. 'The temptation to refuel in the yellow phases to break the sequence of the others is smaller here than anywhere else,' admits Hunter-Reay.

For Sébastien Bourdais, Milwaukee is the toughest oval in the world: 'Because it so many secrets You constantly oscillate between understeer and oversteer, depending on how your car is set up and how the weather conditions are. ”An example: In the qualification, the sun burned the asphalt at 27 degrees. The racing line marked in black stored the heat more than the rest of the road and was suddenly no longer a racing line. Bourdais: 'The track warmed up 15 degrees more than the rest. When you got on it, suddenly the grip was gone.'

The death list includes 18 names

The first winner, William Jones, needed 1.12 minutes for a round. That corresponded to an average speed of 81 km /h. The race only lasted five laps. In 1907 and 1908 the wild hunt lasted 24 hours each. Today it's 250 miles. The fastest lap time ever set in Milwaukee goes to the Canadian Patrick Carpentier. In 1998, he was in training with his Reynard Mercedes in 20.028 seconds and an average of 298.562 km /h around the track. 15 years later the cars are 24 km /h slower.

One can get terribly hurt even on a distance of 1.634 kilometers. In 1968 Ronnie Duman was killed in a sea of ​​flames after a collision on the south curve. 1982caught Jim Hickman when he got stuck on the accelerator in the last few minutes of training. The death list includes 18 names.

So much for the past. IndyCar is currently working on the future. From 2015 there will be technical competition. Changes to the aerodynamics are allowed in small steps. At first only on the cladding, later also on the wings and side pods. The base remains a Dallara, but you will be able to tell the cars apart again. After ten years of stagnation, the series is carefully preparing for the revolution.

New regulations for 2015

Die Subfloors will have to lose surface area by 2015 in order to reduce uplift. The current Dallara is a big car. The area of ​​the floor measures 12 percent more than its predecessor. At speeds over 300 km /h this becomes a risk. If it only lifts the front of the car seven degrees, the under air is enough for it to start flying. 'We have to stay on the safe side because we don't know what aerodynamic shapes await us on the surface,' says the new competition watchdog Derrick Walker.

IndyCar is not yet ready for the new era, even if more and more sponsors are pushing into the market and the number of viewers on site has increased. TV marketing remains a major construction site. And apart from Chevrolet and Honda, automakers are still staying away. “The teams continue to operate at their limit financially,” says Walker. “That is why the new freedom can only come gradually. The first aero kit will cost around $ 200,000. If we release everything from 2019, such a package can come to $ 500,000 to $ 700,000. '

Then there should also be a consumption formula based on the model of Formula 1. Particularly interesting for engine manufacturers: the engine architecture is free. The limiting factor is a maximum amount of fuel and a flow restriction.

Details about the oval

The route is simple. Two curves, two straights. The drivers still divide the course into four curves. Input and output are counted separately. For an oval, the two 180 degree turns are practically flat. “It's a street circuit with two fast corners,” is how Castroneves describes the oldest circuit in the world. The classic one-mile ovals is not exactly a mile long. Remeasurements in 1997 and 2009 initially gave an exact length of 1.034 and then 1.015 miles. Makes 1.634 kilometers.


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