Sam Schmidt’s Indy Lights team and one of its current drivers are exploring their options for 2014.
As was announced a couple weeks ago, reigning Pro Mazda champion and Schmidt Peterson Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth is doing his first IndyCar test today at Sebring International Raceway with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Here’s a tweet from the team, below:
Hawksworth described the step up: “The big thing is for me that the braking is different, in the Lights car you can’t hit the brake nearly as hard as you can hit it in an IndyCar,” he told IndyCar.com. “But the way you actually drive the car in terms of how you went into the corner, how you try to get your turning done in the corner is quite similar.”
If Hawksworth makes the jump to IndyCar next year, either on his own or with the support of a Mazda scholarship for winning the championship (what Tristan Vautier did this year and Josef Newgarden did in 2012), that will free up at least one Indy Lights seat.
According to Trackside Online’s Joe Berkemeier, the team is testing four drivers in Indy Lights: Brazilian Luis Felipe Derani, Colombian Juan Piedrahita and Americans Jimmy Simpson and Spencer Pigot. Derani and Simpson will test two days with Pigot and Piedrahita sharing a third car a day apiece.
The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.
With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.
Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.
With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!
“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”
Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.
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