Old-time NASCAR fans might remember back in 1969, aide John Ehrlichman said of one of then-President Richard Nixon’s policies, “Don’t worry, it’ll play in Peoria.”
When Richard Childress unveiled the new look of Ryan Newman’s No. 31 Caterpillar-sponsored 2015 Chevrolet SS, the debut Wednesday was held at the CAT Visitors Center in Peoria, Illinois.
And it certainly indeed did play well in Peoria.
Several dozen CAT employees and race fans braved below-freezing temperatures and sharp wind to turn out for the event. It was also the first time that Newman saw the new look on his car.
The best way to describe the new graphics is a refreshed look of the traditional CAT logo, but with more black, white and gold in the overall look.
“I think it’s cool looking,” Newman told WMBD Radio (see video). “It obviously has a lot of black, but there’s a lot of history with black and RCR. But it does represent the Caterpillar colors well.
“This is my first trip to Peoria to see some of these things. But at the same time, seeing the car for the first time in person vs. seeing it on paper is two different things. It is nice to see and we’ll try to do our best to get it into victory lane this year.”
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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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