Electric indie 500? ‘This is one of the most interesting questions in motorsport’

Will the Indy 500 ever be electric, which will make gasoline alike a non-invasive sound like Carb Day? (Auxiliary Printing Press)

Indianapolis – There’s nothing like an indie car speeding down the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, its engine echoing from a huge grandstand that can’t be heard anywhere else.

There is a dazzling sight as the car approaches from a distance of turn 4, then it explodes in peak volume as it travels about 230 miles per hour and finally fades away at the distance of turn 1.

Ray Harun drove the six-cylinder Marmon Wasp to win the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. This has been a aspect of Speedway. In the 111 years since then cars have evolved and speed has tripled, but the constant is their sweet sound. Internal combustion engine.

But by pushing the electric vehicle auto industry toward zero-emission existence, will that loud-and-beautiful echo of indie end up being silenced? Is it possible, or even inevitable, that the Indianapolis 500 would be an all-electric race?

“This is one of the most interesting questions in motorsport,” said JR Hildebrand, an experienced Indica driver. “Can we see where it’s going?”

JR Hildebrand (Getty Images)

Hybrid on the horizon

Many in the IndyCar Paddock believe that full electrification of the series is coming. Despite the rapid advancement of technology, no one can predict when. This month at Speedway, there are examples of Speedway and the NTT Indicar series emphasizing their carbon footprint initiatives.

IndyCar will launch the new 2.4-liter twin-turbo hybrid-assisted Honda and Chevrolet engines in 2024 that will produce 900 horsepower, from 100 hybrid components. The indie cars and equipment that transporters carry from race to race are fueled by biodiesel. Electric vehicles have become more prevalent around Speedway this month, with many drivers using two-wheeled scooters approaching electric-powered mobile merchandise trucks.

“In your mind, you’re going to think,

‘Such a fast car shouldn’t have that sound.’ But it will happen. “

Firestone, the only tire supplier in the series, has delivered all race tires used at IMS this month via the Freightliner eCascadia truck. Firestone has also developed an eco-friendly alternative tire made from natural rubber from the Guaul bush, which will be used in race cars at the pit-stop competition on Friday. The first race of that tire is scheduled for August in Nashville.

It’s a long way from fully electrifying race cars, but Mike Shank, owner of the Indicar and Sports Car team, whose Mayor Shank racing car was driven by Helio Castronovs, who won the Indy 500 last year, is preparing for it.

“It simply came to our notice then. “When we talk about electrification, of course, hybrids are less hanging fruit. It’s not just a hybrid, it’s a pure electric car. We are preparing for what we are trying to do as a team. ”

Everyone on Shank’s Indicar and sports car team is taking part in a Honda Performance Development training program to learn how to work safely in an electric car.

“Before you could take your niece and nephew in the car for a photo, but (with an electric race car) you can’t do that anymore,” Shank said. “The car should be clean, not driven and safe to touch. We are concerned about security first, and then how to optimize it. Technology is advancing fast and it is an important hot button for all OEMs, we all know where it is going. “

‘Words are a thing of a generation’

But how? When? And what value do purists have to pay for equating speed with sound and not easily accepting the relative silence of an electric indie car?

“Sound is a thing of the next generation,” said Mike Hall, managing director of 14-time Indica series champion and four-time Indy 500-winning team Chip Gansi Racing. Done. “

Imagine a man standing near turn 1 in Hull Indy when an electric race car travels quietly at 230 miles per hour.

“In your mind, you’re going to think, ‘A speeding car shouldn’t sound like that,'” he said. “But it will.”

“I want to be present, and I want to do what is important to the world.”

“Faster and louder” is the mantra of Jay Fry, president of the IndyCar series, especially in the development of new engines in 2024, so it is clear that internal combustion will take place in a short time. Hull suspects it will last forever, saying automakers and even the government are setting a future that includes racing.

“World governments, no matter where you live, if you really think about it, they’re designing road cars today,” Hull said. “It seems backward to me, but the reality is they are telling car companies what they want cars to do in the future based on the rules that are being introduced around the world. So yes, we will race a version of this, no question.” . “

Shank said his old-school side hopes there will be a special market for gas-powered units.

“But on the other hand, I don’t want to be left behind,” he said. “I want to be present, and I want to do what is important to the world.”

Scott Dixon jeeps on an electric scooter with gasoline alley. (AP)

Not an EV type race

Hildebrand, who will compete in his 12thM The nature of the race in the current form of technology is not conducive to electric vehicles, the Indy500 said on Sunday. The 500 is a max-speed, accelerator-to-the-floor event from start to finish, slowing down and braking when drivers beat half a dozen times for fuel and tires. It’s almost not enough to reproduce a battery, he said.

“To be able to do this at an average of 180 miles per hour for 500 miles, we’re far from being able to do that,” said Hildebrand, an assistant lecturer at Stanford’s automotive dynamics program and involved with the STEM program when he’s not racing. “Looking at top-tier motorsports, when an electric car competes with an internal combustion engine, the Indy 500 is the hardest to do.”

“It’s my opinion that the Indianapolis 500 is the place … where such things have been allowed to be explored in the past.”

Still, Hildebrand would like someone to build an electric race car and prove that it can run fast indie like a car with an internal combustion engine, even if it is not ready for a 500-mile race. In a way, it would take Indie back to a time when it was a grounding ground for automotive technology. In the current era, IndyCar is a special-racing series under extremely restrictive rules to maintain the balance of competition. Racing has never been closer, but experimentation and innovation between teams is extremely limited.

“It’s my opinion that the Indianapolis 500 is a place, especially in American motorsport, and really global if you look at the historic arc from where motorsport came from, where such things were allowed to be explored in the past,” Hildebrand said. “If we follow the same path as the rules are currently written in sports – we write very limited, very limited rules for a particular type of powertrain architecture – and we’re just waiting for electrification to prove that it can produce. With 230 mph qualifying laps and an average speed of 175 or 180 miles per hour during an event, this may never happen. And even if it did, a ton of other things would be electric at that point, so it’s not going to be a very interesting thing. “

‘All right, bring it!’

If Hildebrand had been in charge, he would have drawn up a plan that would allow an electric car to at least show him how it stands with the crowd of internal combustion engines, whether it is ready to run 500 miles.

“Today I’m going to start figuring out ways to integrate almost an X-Reward style – come and show me what you’ve got – a system where instantaneous electrification would be welcomed on Speedway in the context of Indica racing,” he said. Operating at a qualification level of speed will come much sooner than being able to operate at that speed during 500 miles. If you keep it completely open and say that anyone who qualifies with these technologies runs, it’s a little more open. You can have a fast car that qualifies but there is no business to compete in 500 miles. “

Hildebrand believes that motorsport could be much better if it embraces these new technologies in the next decade.

“The point of running is to show different ways of doing things.”

“Because of its history and it’s one of the hardest places for anything but an internal combustion engine to be any good, Indy kind of says, ‘OK, bring it on!’ There is no risk, ”he said. “There is a possibility that by doing this, it becomes a place where everyone goes to see it. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of 1967. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. Think about the level of relative unpredictability of what we now deal with. The magnitude of that situation cannot be overstated. “

And while battery life / resuscitation is not an issue in a race like the Indy 500, he would prefer a scene where an electric car finally fights with an internal combustion-powered car.

“Say we’ve reached the end of the race and everyone has the same strategy, creating the same fuel economy,” he said. “You may be faced with a situation where the way electrification works and how low the power concentration of an internal combustion engine (fuel) is burning compared to an internal combustion engine they are leaving under precaution, suddenly electric cars with an advantage in the final stage, and you Got it.

“There will be people who hate. But that’s kind of the point. The point of running is to show different ways of doing things and some things are better than others in certain situations. That is why we have come to compete. “

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