Photo Courtesy Brian Cleary, IndyCar.com

IndyCar improves LED panels for 2019 season

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An improved system of LED displays will be used in every IndyCar session this year to assist fans with understanding how each car is performing and to aid the safety team in attending disabled cars, it was announced Tuesday.

IndyCar has contracted with a new manufacturer named MoTeC for 2019 to create a version of the system used in IMSA.

“We know that fans at racetracks and watching from home appreciate the LED system that helps them keep track of how their favorite cars and drivers are performing,” IndyCar President Jay Frye said at IndyCar.com. “That’s why we worked hard in the offseason to develop a more reliable system that will have even brighter displays that make them more visible to everyone. Our thanks go to MoTeC and Jon Koskey, IndyCar’s senior director of technology, who led the effort on this important project.”

One feature of the new displays is that they are lighter, which will insure that there are no performance issues. They were tested in simulated race conditions during the offseason and will be mounted on the chassis’ roll hoop in time for the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The system receives data from IndyCar’s timing and scoring system. Continuously updated at the timing loops embedded in the track, the displays show a car’s running position on the leaderboard during each session.

When a driver presses the push-to-pass button, the display will alight a flashing green “PP”.

During pit stops, the displays will transform into a counter showing the length of service in tenths of a second.

One safety feature is that the display can also show when a car has lost power – assisting in the determination of when to deploy the safety team.

The lights will debut with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg’s practice session beginning on March 8. All practice session will air live on IndyCar Pass – NBC’s streaming service from NBC Sports Gold. More than 200 hours of broadcast qualify programming can be seen on this service, which is currently available at the IndyCar Pass on NBC Sports Gold site.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?