IndyCar testing on-board LED lights at Barber this week

4 Comments

A technology pioneered in sports car racing – LED lighting to display driver running order – is coming to the Verizon IndyCar Series, first in testing this week at Barber Motorsports Park with an eye to debuting them on-track this season.

The full release and further details from INDYCAR are below:

This week at Barber Motorsports Park, INDYCAR is testing new technology that will track each car’s position on the racetrack and display it in real time via a LED display panel on each side of the chassis. The series is targeting the implementation of the track positioning system, which will also display when a driver triggers the push-to-pass feature, for early in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“This project started over a year ago in concept and it really is about how we can get fans more engaged, allow them to see more of what’s going on,” said INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker. “If you’re not in line of sight of a video screen or a scoring pylon, it’s hard to know who’s doing what. It was a natural to do the numbering system.”

The 8-inch-wide by 7-inch-tall LED panels, which are only 3 millimeters thick, will be attached to either side of the airbox (below the cockpit camera mount) on each entry. Running order will be updated as the car crosses each of the multiple INDYCAR Timing & Scoring timelines around a racetrack.

“The LED displays are driven from a controller that is hooked into the car network,” said INDYCAR director of Timing & Scoring Jon Koskey. “The controller can talk to the car ECU and pick up information live, so as a timeline is hit that information is put on the car network immediately. You’ll see how many positions each car gained or lost live on any given lap. Red is the primary color and green will be used for the push-to-pass, which will be displayed as a pattern. Brightness of the LEDs will be modulated according to the setting.”

INDYCAR will continue to develop the technology, including adjustments to the brightness of the display, based upon multiple factors.

“We had to take into consideration the brightness of the lights because this new LED technology is extremely bright,” Koskey said. “At night you don’t have to run it at full intensity. We can make modifications to the light panels in real time through the timelines by sending control codes. There are four levels of brightness, so we put into the system what we want. When the cars come into pit lane that display is going to be right in the fuel filler’s face, so using the car data we programmed in that when the car drops below 10 mph it will dim to 25 percent. We’re putting functionality into play. We have room down the road to do others things with it.”

Additional options are also being considered, including adding an additional color, to expand the functionality.

“There are other things we can do with it as we look down the road,” Walker said. “We’ll start off small and get the fans engaged and understanding what it is doing. It’s all about the fan experience.”

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Combined speeds