LINCOLN, Neb. — Yamaha Motor Corp. revealed the R1 Dirt Track Concept Car Wednesday afternoon at Eagle Raceway.
The R1DT concept is a tube chassis, purpose-built race car powered by a fuel-injected inline four-cylinder engine from Yamaha’s R1S production motorcycle. The car is designed to be low maintenance, low cost to the racer with vehicles purchased at Yamaha outlets and transported directly to the race track.
The car is expected to be a valuable training tool for up and coming drivers and an affordable and fun racing machine for more experienced drivers.
Yamaha officials believe that because of the company’s rich history in innovation and diversification, dirt-track racing is the next step for the manufacturer.
“Yamaha has a long history in racing and engineering at the highest levels all across the world and if we can turn this concept into a reality, we will be committed to investing in and supporting the growth of grassroots racing in America with this project,” said Dave Park, project manager for the Yamaha Dirt Track Car.
While the R1DT is a concept car, Yamaha officials hope make a production version of the R1DT, but only if it meets the high standers of performance, quality and reliability.
Wednesday’s event held under the supervision of veteran sprint car driver Cory Kruseman, saw media members, Yamaha officials and other invited guests put the R1DT to the test.
“Considering it is still a prototype, it is pretty awesome,” Kruseman said of the R1DT. “They have a lot of drivability and they have a lot of adjustment to it. I think it is pretty awesome to have somebody as big as Yamaha getting into any sort of car racing versus motorcycles.
“I think it will do a lot for dirt-track racing,” he continued. “…The biggest thing we see at our driving school is age, we get people primarily from 12 to 21 because they are racing on parents’ money. At 21, they go off to school and we usually get them back when they are 45 because they have made some money and they can start playing.
“Two caveats are time and money,” Kruseman continued. “When you have the time you don’t have the money, and when you have the money, you don’t have the time. This car is going to allow the maintenance to drop down. You will have to do very little maintenance. We’ve run more than 400 laps today and we’ve had no issues at all with a prototype car.”
Director of Sales and Marketing Chad Markel represented SPEED SPORT at the event.
“The folks at Yamaha are on the right path with the development of this dirt-track vehicle,” Markel said. “It has lots of power yet has the stability that allows the novice driver to get up to speed very quickly.”
Yamaha has yet to set a price for the new racing vehicle, but officials stressed that they understand retail price is critical to the success of the project. There is also no timetable for the R1DT to hit the market.
“All of the equipment is phenomenal,” Kruseman said. “Being able to have parts, being able to have unit and a motorcycle engine that will run countless laps on pump gas very cost effectively, it is something that could bring large car counts.”
Yamaha believes that because the R1DT concept comes from a clean-sheet-of-paper design, they’ve incorporated features such as symmetrical suspension components and the ability to run on pump gas, which also reduces the costs of racing.
Features such as variable engine output and data acquisition will assist in advancing a driver’s skill level and experience in safe manner.
“It troubleshoots your problem without weeks, months or years of asking questions. Data acquisition speeds up the learning curve,” Kruseman said. “To have that as a stock option that is easy to read and learn from is phenomenal. If everybody has it and it’s set up the same way, it speeds up the learning curve. It’s also great for troubleshooting the car.”
Yamaha’s counting on feedback from fans, racers, promoters and sanctioning body officials helping it as it decides whether or not to make the R1DT concept car a reality.
Markel believes the car has what it takes to provide entertaining dirt-track racing.
“The range of settings on the ECU of the R1DT allows for multiple power outputs, throttle response and engine braking at the push of a button,” Markel said. “Quite frankly, a father and son could utilize the same car to compete in two separate classes on the same evening.”