NEWS:  Team Stephenson takes 3rd in inaugural Texas 500 kart enduro
Matt takes 2nd place in the inaugural 2Days2Ways at Texas Motor Speedway



The Indycar Series was probably the most fun I have ever had on the wrench side of the car.  Starting in 2003, I spent a couple seasons and several more Indy 500's with AJ Foyt Enterprises.  I learned the cars, the gearboxes, the tires, setup, trucking, and pitstops.  I love a small close knit team like that, it offers a lot of places to shine and learn.  I learned a lot about racecar setup, which is an interesting thing on these cars.  These cars are so precise that toe and ride height are measured to the thousandth of an inch!  The engines are able to be changed in 45 mins or less.  I was changing the front tire in under 5 secs, the whole car can be torn down for a rebuild in 4 hours by one person.  I cant tell you how well Dallara has designed these machines; able to be worked on so easily and yet so fast!


Right Front Tire Changer:
On an oval course, the Right Front man is in charge of all over-the-wall activity.  The stops are over in a flash and its crucial to have everything perfect every time since that guy in the car trusts you with his life. 

Here's the rundown of a great stop for the Right Front:  Crew is set out and ready... Car is in Pit lane... Check correct gun direction... Wave the car in... Down in stance with left hand at the stop point for the front tire... Wheel is in front of me, Gun comes up to the nut... Left hand guides the gun on the nut...  Hit the Trigger but don't drop the nut... Drop the gun as the car comes up... Left hand takes the tire off as the Right hand puts the new one on... Grab the gun and double check correct direction...  Nut on with enough torque...  Throw the gun to the wall and get up showing the driver to hold with Right hand...  Look for other three tire guys to be done...  Watch for fuel to be done... Watch for the wing change to be finished... Watch the pit lane for a gap as the car comes down...  WAVE OUT!!!!  GO! GO! GO!     .....8 second stop waiting for fuel...  Oh yeah, and dont get run over, the speed limit is SIXTY and they burn out next to your feet.

Some thoughts about the 2003-2011 Dallara chassis...

They took a somewhat radical approach to the design of the front end of the car, specifically the suspension.  As you can see from the above picture, the frontal area of the car was able to be reduced dramatically.  Most cars in racing use a double wishbone suspension, with pushrods supporting the sprung weight of the car.  This setup usually has the coil-overs sitting longitudinally on the chassis just above the pedal box.  Dallara decided to stick the coil-overs UNDER the pedal box in the dead space under the drivers legs.  By doing that, the top of the chassis can be slimmed down and thus reduce the aerodynamic drag of the car.  My first impressions of this car was one of awe.  Awe of the amount of engineering and work that went into the ability to WORK ON the car.  Everything has been laid out in logical ways, and made to be repaired or replaced VERY quickly.  Access panels and openings in the front made everything easy...  TIGHT, but easy.  Some mechanics whined about the shocks being UNDER the car, but honestly, I didn't care.  Once you get the hang of it, you see its a pretty cool way to do it.  With a good paint job, it looks really beautiful.

The adjust-ability of everything on this car was impressive.  I haven't ever before or after worked on a car that can be adjusted in so many ways so radically.  The thing is, when there are 50 things to adjust, and most have a range, not a number of set points.  The car has an INFINITE number of different setups.  These are all handy as a team and driver work to engineer the car into a best setup for the day.  Want a narrower track width?  Done.  Wheelbase shorter?  Easy.  What about roll centers?  Easy.  Bump steer? Bump caster? Motion ratio of the spring?  Kingpin angle? Caster, Camber, Toe?  All are easily changed.  Its just amazing what all you can do to help make the car behave better.  Most sports car guys will change the roll bars on their street machine.  Well, we can too....  but we can also change the stiffness DURING THE RACE.  Springs?  Some guys will have a stiff road car that has about 300 lbs/in springs; with the kind of downforce involved in these cars, they use a spring that can be upwards of 4,500 lb/in!!!  And you can change springs inside of 5 minutes.  ANY spring is available.  Anything from 1,000 to 5,000 lbs/in.  Another cool thing about these cars is the ability to use ride height on each corner for aerodynamic aid.

Gearbox was made specifically for this car, and had a 6-speed sequential with the differential integrated into the same box.  And what a gearbox!  The gears are all strait cut, with dogring engagement.  The gears go together onto a sub-assembly called a "stack" that can be quickly changed or replaced, even in a pitstop.  Pretty cool.  On the front of the box, there is what is called a "drop gear" that can be used to adjust the final drive ratio without the mess and time of replacing the ring and pinion gears like you would have to do in a normal sports car.  The whole box is lubricated by its own oiling system, and oil cooler with a pump.  Its a robust, reliable, and REALLY light gearbox from Xtrack.

What a great car, fun to work on, and built well.  We could change an engine in about half an hour!  Pitstops in under 8 seconds!  I single handedly took the whole car apart from race ready to chassis and parts in 4 hours.  Massive brakes, great powerplants, fast on a huge variety of tracks, and makes exciting racing!

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