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‘Still a possibility’ Mexico will join 2018 IndyCar calendar

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Although it wasn’t listed on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar released earlier today, Mexico still could get added to the schedule as an 18th race, likely in August.

Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles addressed the lingering topic of Mexico’s presence but didn’t want to confirm the race in advance before all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, as the area rebuilds following a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico City earlier this year.

“Yes, I think there is still a possibility of adding Mexico City for next year,” Miles said. “We felt like with Portland being nailed down, most of the schedule, a schedule we’re happy to have as our final schedule for next year is set, ought to be public.

“But there is ongoing work in Mexico City to get to the track there. I think it’s quite close. We’re optimistic about the possibility, even yet to be added for the 2018 schedule.”

If the race happens, Miles identified an early August date. Looking at the schedule, that likely would fall on Sunday, August 5, the weekend after a race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. If the race was a week later, on August 12, it would position the series for a four-week in a row stretch to tack on Mexico before racing at Pocono for 500 miles, Gateway on a short turnaround, and then out to the Pacific Northwest in Portland.

“If it happens, it will be in there probably just after Mid-Ohio where we have a little longer break in the middle of our summer than we’d like,” he said.

“Everything we know about the opportunity there is exciting. Great track, great facility. Obviously huge market. A lot of open-wheel fans and IndyCar fans. We hope that can come together, but the schedule works for us if it doesn’t.”

Getting Portland done for this portion of the schedule release proved the first thing Miles wanted to get accomplished in the wake of Watkins Glen falling off. Miles did not impose a deadline on getting a Mexico race – if it happens – sorted.

“We have not presented a final deadline for that. It would be a combination of what they would need time-wise to be successful in promoting an event in early August. But from our perspective, it could be added down the road,” he said.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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