Don’t Snap Judge Delta Indy Car

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VALLEY STREAM, N.Y.
The IRL is seeking bids from car builders for its new chassis for the year 2012. Swift Engineering, Lola Cars, Dallara and DeltaWing Racing Cars have all submitted bids.

The most interesting is the DeltaWing proposal, which was unveiled recently at the Chicago Auto Show.

Most folks don’t like it. Some say they would never go to an Indy-car race again if this became the car of choice.

Hold on a minute: The Indianapolis 500, now approaching its 100th anniversary, has seen wholesale changes through the years.
The original mounts were modified factory (dare I say “stock”) cars. Later came Harry Miller’s sleek race cars with small engines in them. Then came larger “Speedway” cars, more roomy for riding mechanics. Wilbur Shaw’s Maserati was the first truly “sleek” machine in 1939. Next were the Novis and Emil Diedt’s front-wheel drive cars, which won in 1947-49. Fans saw upright dirt cars, then Frank Kurtis brought out the roadster in 1952. Rear-engine cars came along in the mid 1960s.

As an ardent fan of Indy cars, I, like many others, was dismayed when the “pushers” sent the beloved roadsters to museums. So many of us were turned off by the change.

It didn’t take long to realize that one thing didn’t change. Indy cars still had A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, the Unser Brothers and many others still driving them. So the new style car was eventually accepted. Could these “road race cars” race neck and neck? In 1982, Gordon Johncock and Rick Mears put on the best race-ending battle in history.

I agree the DeltaWing car is odd looking, but it has many things going for it. It is claimed the car will run 235 miles per hour with a much smaller engine and use far less fuel. This means a variety of engines could be used. Right now we have 33 Dallaras with Honda engines.

The kicker is they will cost much less and owners don’t have to get involved in expensive engine programs. Maybe Indy racing could be affordable to run.

Something has to be done. Indy-car racing is stagnant. No new teams or American drivers exist. There is no growth. So maybe this new car isn’t a looker. What we need is an Indy 500 with 33 race drivers, who we have actually heard of and who will try to win. They better do it soon.

– The Daytona 500 took so long that Scott Pruett and Alex Gurney suited up. Tony Stewart had a full beard when it ended. OK, those are the jokes.

After we all hoped NASCAR was seriously trying to bring racing back, they turn Daytona into a seven-hour race. This blunder will really hurt. The casual fan will be lost. The true race fan isn’t happy either.

The track not being repaved in 32 years was asking for trouble. What will happen this July when the hot Florida sun is blazing on it? I know some drivers say it shouldn’t be paved. Maybe they wanted that bathroom break.

After the long day, Jamie McMurray’s victory was one of the best feel-good stories in years. Here’s a guy everybody likes. The women adore him and to me, he’s like the little brother I never had. It almost made the day worthwhile.

Maybe the fabled No. 1 isn’t jinxed anymore, at least not at Daytona. The number hasn’t won the Indianapolis 500 since 1971.
Glad to see NASCAR extend the race so the winner races to the checkered flag. One suggestion we offer, though, is to send all cars more than one lap down home.

The race to the finish is mainly to determine the winner, and the backmarkers mostly crash anyway.

– Speaking of Mario Andretti, he turns 70 years young Feb. 28.

Accumulating gold medals at 25 Emerson Place, Valley Stream, N.Y., 11580. E-mail to [email protected]