2021 Indianapolis 500 Recap, How the Race was Won

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If you were fortunate enough to watch the Indy 500, you witnessed one of the best races ever. Every “500” has 33 unique stories but only one winner – and in this case it turned out to be a (now) four-time winner in Helio Castroneves.

Are you interested in driving an Indy car? Take a look at our race car rental program - we have Indy lights cars that you can rent and drive! - Editor

Kicked to the curb after more than 20 years at Team Penske with 50 poles and 30 wins on his Indy car resumé, Helio was adamant that his driving days in the open wheelers were not over. After winning his first professional racing championship last year for Team Penske in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, he found a new home for a partial season of six races in the NTT IndyCar Series with Meyer Shank Racing for 2021 starting with The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Team owners Mike Shank and his wife Mary Beth came from humble beginnings to reach the pinnacle of all Victory Lanes in the world and celebrate their first-ever NTT IndyCar Series victory with co-owner Jim Meyer (former CEO of SiriusXM).

With that expansion this year to include a second car at select races, the hunt for a driver was on. Do you go with youth and exuberance or with a veteran and the experience that they bring? After watching the consummate professionalism of the way Castroneves sized up his competition and earned his victory, that decision proved they made the right choice. Castroneves poked and prodded for different ways to pass or even pull ahead just a wee bit at the yard of bricks and it was obvious that he had a clear cut method to extract all the information he needed to make his move at the right time and in the right place. He credited his years of experience with having finished second as not only motivation, but also because he learned what he needed to do to win. His outside pass on lap 198 into Turn 1 over Alex Palou proved to be the key move. Experience, race craft, and understanding how to use the tools in the car to make it better all played a part in his victory. The other part had to do with his MSR crew giving him a good car to begin with and executing their plan throughout the race to save fuel, get track position and have fabulous pit stops.

It’s true that luck also plays a part in that the caution flag didn’t come out when Castroneves was running second with just three laps to go. Typically, there’s a caution with just 10 laps to go at Indy. The race this year was uncommonly clean with only Graham Rahal’s tire leaving his car exiting the pits and putting him into the SAFER Barrier and numerous spins on pit road as multiple drivers locked their brakes entering pit lane. That all added up to a speed record for the 500 in excess of 190 mph average.

Of course at the end of it, ‘Spiderman’ parked his car on the main straight, jumped out and climbed the fence and was joined by his jubilant crew. The largest sporting event crowd since the pandemic started last March of 135,000 strong started chanting, “El ee Oh, El ee Oh” which reduced him to tears of joy with the realization of him becoming only the fourth driver ever to win four times. Even Mario Andretti kissed Helio on top of his head in a congratulatory way. Credit goes to NBC for not breaking to commercials and showing the sheer joy and raw emotion that filled the screen as he soaked in the adoration of the crowd and from fellow drivers and team members. One of the best races ever? You bet. The best post-race celebration? Without question.

Copyright © 2021 Larry Mason

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The Armchair Racer’s Guide to the Indianapolis 500

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Are you interested in driving an Indy car? Take a look at our race car rental program - we have Indy lights cars that you can rent and drive! - Editor

With the fastest field of drivers in the 2021 Indianapolis 500 ever, and the third-closest spread of speeds of all time, how do you know who’s the driver most likely to move forward in the field and who will be fading fast? Fortunately, for the more-than-casual fan, we have access to the NTT IndyCar Series App which provides the end user with valuable data on how to predict who got their setup right and who got it wrong.

The app provides live streaming telemetry with data such as speed, gear position, throttle position, brake pressure and perhaps one of the most telling pieces of data – steering wheel angle.

If you watched qualifying, you’ll know that every single driver was “flat out” for the entire four laps. That means that their foot was buried on the floor with the throttle pedal never lifting off even while hurtling into those 90 degree corners in excess of 230mph! If you watched the speeds heading into and out of the corners there was about a 10 mph difference between entering and exiting. The best way to go fast is to keep the steering wheel pointed straight. However, this of course would be the wrong thing to do at Indy. Since you have to turn the wheel to navigate the course, you want to turn as little as possible to avoid “scrubbing” off speed. Yet, you don’t want the car to be so loose (oversteer) that it’s too hard to control for 500 miles.

Most teams will set the cars up with just a bit of understeer to make it more predictable for navigating through traffic during the race. Keep in mind that when the drivers are in heavy traffic and close to the rear wing of the car in front of them, the aerodynamic pressure is reduced on the front wings causing an “aero wash” or lack of front grip. This is the aerodynamic equivalent to hydroplaning on wet roads. The problem is that if you pack up to close to the car in front you’ll lose grip which then puts you onto the dirty part of the track (the marbles) which is then like driving on ice. In most occasions you’ll soon be having an intimate visit with the SAFER Barrier and a trip to the infield medical center – not to mention tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars of crash damage.

So, while you’re watching the 500, open up the app and look at the steering angle of your favorite driver. Also, look for a driver in the lead and back in the pack. If you see their steering angle over 20 degrees, you’ll know that the car has too much understeer. If it’s less than 10 degrees, they’re likely battling a loose car. The drivers that consistently have less steering angle than most are typically the ones up front or making their way there. Watch to see how much and for how long they’re lifting off the throttle in the corners as another indicator of handling. When it comes to the last ten laps, you’ll be seeing drivers battling for the win going flat out in their quest to drink the best milk they’ve ever had in their life. Come to think of it, I think I’ll raise a glass in their honor, although I’ll have some cookies with it on the side!

Copyright © 2021 By Larry Mason - Instuctor, FastLane Racing School

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FastLane Racing School Expands to Buttonwillow Raceway Park

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FastLane Racing School announces that it is expanding to a dedicated facility at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. FastLane will now offer classes and services from both Willow Springs International Raceway, the school’s original location, and Buttonwillow Raceway Park.

May 21, 2021 Santa Clarita, CA

FastLane Racing School (raceschool.com) is pleased to announce expansion to a dedicated facility at Buttonwillow Raceway Park. FastLane will soon offer classes and services from this new location, while also providing driver instruction and other services at its original location, Willow Springs International Raceway.

“We’re excited to be expanding to a new, dedicated facility at Buttonwillow Raceway Park to offer additional programs,” said Sandy Mahle, CEO, FastLane. “Buttonwillow Raceway Park is a track we’ve raced at often, and has a long history of hosting premiere racing events. Recent improvements to the Park, including a new road course and a Tesla Supercharger station, will provide additional support to our ongoing autonomous and electric vehicle testing programs.”

Known as one of the premiere road racing and testing facilities in the United States, Buttonwillow Raceway Park’s versatility has made it popular among club racers, track day clubs, motorcycle racers, professional race teams, car manufacturers, tire companies, media outlets, commercial production companies, and go karters. The track is located just off of Interstate 5 on Lerdo Highway, 28 miles northwest of Bakersfield, California, and offers over 40 different configurations. The East and West loops of the track can be run simultaneously or combined into a 3.1-mile course. The facilities at Buttonwillow Raceway Park include a full service tire center, fuel center with self-service pumps, two-story race control tower with observation deck, restaurant with available catering, RV hookups, day garages, and a gift shop.

“I started my racing career with FastLane” said Mike Miserendino, Event Manager of Buttonwillow Raceway Park. “Having FastLane located at our facility, offering their programs on our track, is a partnership we are very excited about.” Miserendino is a Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) championship-winning racer, as well as a member of the CalClub board.

Buttonwillow Raceway Park, a modular facility with over 20 different course layouts, will soon be launching a new track. The new track will meet all the highest FIA track-specific standards. The Track 2 front straight through the first turn is 50-feet wide, and all of the remaining length is 40 feet in width. The “native ground” is near flat, but three hills of varied elevation change have been constructed for additional interest. Plus, the rubberized asphalt to be laid soon will offer superior grip and be a lot easier on tires.

FastLane Racing School has provided high quality driver education programs for over 25 years from the Willow Springs International Raceway in Southern California. Originally founded by Danny McKeever, FastLane has a long and storied history – from developing the first SCCA race school licensing programs to over 20 years of providing complete driver training and support for the Long Beach Celebrity Grand Prix. Along the way, FastLane has trained a wide range of drivers, from teens in its defensive driving academy to seasoned racing professionals.

FastLane has also trained over 600 law enforcement officers in its Emergency Vehicle Operations Courses. Thousands of other drivers have graduated from corporate and fleet driving programs, manufacturer driver training programs, and government certification courses. FastLane has also been a longtime partner for the entertainment industry, having participated in over 100 movies, broadcast shows, and commercials. With its expansion to Buttonwillow Raceway Park, FastLane hopes to educate and support even more drivers and businesses in the coming years.

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About FastLane

For over 25 years, FastLane Racing School has provided high quality driver education in California. FastLane’s programs include SCCA certified racing instruction, corporate driving programs, defensive driving, manufacturer driver training programs, and government certification courses. FastLane also provides extensive expertise in vehicle dynamics and support for the entertainment industry. For the past 20 years, FastLane has proudly provided driver training and support for the Long Beach Celebrity Grand Prix. In 2021, FastLane launched its new Data-Driven Driver Development (DDDD) programs, including specialties in electric vehicle and autonomous driving. Learn more at raceschool.com 

About Buttonwillow Raceway Park

Buttonwillow Raceway Park is one of the premiere road racing and testing facilities in The United States. The track’s versatility has made it popular among club racers, track day clubs, motorcycle racers, professional race teams, car manufactures, tire companies, publishers and media outlets, commercial production companies, and go karters. The track is located just off of Interstate 5 on Lerdo Highway, 28 miles northwest of Bakersfield, California, and offers over 40 different configurations.The East and West loops of the track can be run simultaneously or combined into a 3.1-mile course. The facilities at Buttonwillow Raceway Park include a full service tire center, fuel center with self-service pumps, two-story race control tower with observation deck, restaurant with available catering, RV hookups, day garages, and a gift shop. Learn more at http://buttonwillowraceway.com/

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FastLane Racing School Announces New CEO and Expanded Driver Programs

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After more than 25 years of providing high performance driving instruction at Willow Springs International Raceway, FastLane Racing School (raceschool.com) has hired a new CEO, Sandy Mahle. FastLane has started launching new programs and will continue to do so throughout 2021. They will also continue to expand services for vehicle manufacturers and the film and television industry.

SANTA CLARITA, Calif., April 15, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- FastLane Racing School (raceschool.com) announced today that Sandy Mahle has joined the company as its new CEO, and has plans for new, expanded driver education programs in 2021.

As CEO, Sandy Mahle brings to FastLane over 20+ years of technology leadership experience in Silicon Valley, as well as over 100 years of the Mahle family history in the automotive industry.

"I'm thrilled to be joining FastLane to start this new chapter," said Sandy. "The merging of technology with the automotive industry, especially driver development, has long been a passion of mine. With its rich history of top quality driver programs, FastLane was a natural fit. I'm excited to be a part of the new leadership team as our programs and services evolve in the coming years."

"We're thrilled to have Sandy on our team," Eddy Valdez, General Manager of FastLane. "Her experience will be essential to our new data-driven driver development programs."

FastLane Racing School has provided high quality driver education programs for over 25 years from the Willow Springs International Raceway in Southern California. Originally founded by Danny McKeever, FastLane has a long and storied history – from developing the first SCCA race school licensing programs to over 20 years of providing complete driver training and support for the Long Beach Celebrity Grand Prix. Along the way, FastLane has trained a wide range of drivers, from teens in its defensive driving academy to seasoned racing professionals.

FastLane is proud to have trained over 600 law enforcement officers in its Emergency Vehicle Operations Courses. Thousands of other drivers have graduated from corporate and fleet driving programs, manufacturer driver training programs, and government certification courses. FastLane has also been a longtime partner for the entertainment industry, having participated in over 100 movies, broadcast shows, and commercials.

"If it moves – we likely have a program and expertise in it," said Sandy. In 2021, FastLane plans to deepen its existing programs, as well as launch a complete set of new programs.

Sandy is excited to break new ground as a female CEO in an industry long-dominated by men.

"My 20 years in Silicon Valley taught me that there's no limitation to what anyone can accomplish," said Sandy Mahle. "As CEO, I bring my breadth of experience and depth of passion, plan to lead by example and let results speak for themselves."

About FastLane

For over 25 years, FastLane Racing School has provided high quality driver education in California. FastLane's programs include SCCA certified racing instruction, corporate driving programs, defensive driving, manufacturer driver training programs, and government certification courses. FastLane also provides extensive expertise in vehicle dynamics and support for the entertainment industry. For the past 20 years, FastLane has proudly provided driver training and support for the Long Beach Celebrity Grand Prix. In 2021, FastLane launched its new Data-Driven Driver Development (DDDD) programs, including specialties in electric vehicle and autonomous driving. Learn more at raceschool.com

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The 10 Weirdest Formula 1 Cars Of All Time

The 10 Weirdest Formula 1 Cars Of All Time

Formula 1 is all about speed. It's the pinnacle of autosports, and engineers are tasked with finding creative ways to make the cars as fast as possible while the drivers are tasked with racing the wheels off of 'em. Formula 1 has seen some fantastic-looking machines, such as the Lotus 49, but it has also featured some truly odd ones. And with the current crop of F1 cars on the field, we've decided to take a look back at some of the weirdest ones ever to make it out of the wind tunnel!

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From 14 MPH To 270 MPH: The History of Fastest

From 14 MPH To 270 MPH: The History of Fastest

Since the invention of the first horseless carriage, mankind has spent untold fortunes in the pursuit of going just a little bit faster. Why? Because there's nothing quite like a good old-fashioned bar fight over whether Car A counts as a production car, or if Car B is really faster using a special setting. The way it works around here is simple: if in the car's day, you could pick up the phone (or send a telegraph), promise a small-to-mid-sized fortune, and take delivery of your very own crazy-fast car, it counts as a production car. Ridiculously fast one-offs never meant for public consumption? Not so much. Here are the fastest production cars the world has ever seen. Some of them won't surprise you in the slightest, and others might be conspicuous by their absence.

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Lexus LC 500h: The Hybrid We All Want To Drive

Lexus LC 500h: The Hybrid We All Want To Drive

Lexus has announced the full details on its 354-hp LC 500h coupe. When we heard that Lexus would build a hybrid variant of its LC coupe, we hoped it would feature the 5.0-liter V8. But while those two extra cylinders didn't make the final cut, the hybrid drivetrain has some unconventional features that make it unique.

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The Toyota "Stackable Wing" Flying Car

The Toyota "Stackable Wing" Flying Car

The idea of flying cars was introduced by sci-fi author Jules Verne and has adorned numerous covers of Popular Mechanics magazine ever since.

There has been recent development in cars that fly, including a company that Google co-founder Larry Page invested in, but Toyota’s apparent toe-in-the-water raises some questioning eyebrows. The Japanese automaker has recently been awarded a patent it filed back in March 2014 that covers a “stackable wing for an aerocar.”

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The Ten Most Successful Race Cars Of All Time

The Ten Most Successful Race Cars Of All Time

At Fast Lane, we have had our share of races. Be it spec, time attack, formula, or chump car, we like to win. Today's blog post has a few others that love to win. In fact, they pretty much destroyed their competition and redefined their sport. Below are the 10 most successful race cars of all time!

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Heartbreak at Le Mans

Heartbreak at Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans holds a special place in our hearts. More than any other race, it's a crucible in which new technology is forged, technology that's directly relevant to the cars you or I drive on the road. And for 23 hours and 57 minutes, this year's race belonged to Toyota Gazoo Racing, which put on a fine show with its pair of TS050 hybrid race cars. But racing can be a cruel, cruel sport—and this year was crueler than most.

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