RaceSchool.com Video Blog/Podcast Ed Carpenter Interview

Ed Carpenter has enjoyed a lot of success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s earned the pole position three times, had five front row starts in seven years, and his team placed three cars in the Firestone Fast 9 in 2019. He won the Indy Lights race at the Brickyard in 2003. Carpenter also has three wins at other tracks in the NTT IndyCar Series. He’s also led a race in 14 of the last 15 years. Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) always seems to have their cars dialed in to go fast at Indianapolis. Ed took time out of his busy schedule and joined us on a Zoom call interview to talk about what the April open test would mean to their team and how they approach the Speedway for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Without getting into trade secret details, he opens up about aerodynamics and other ways they prepare their cars for the challenge of going fast reliably at Indianapolis. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: It was announced soon after this interview was completed that Paretta Autosport with driver Simona de Silvestro have formed a technical alliance with Ed Carpenter Racing. ECR will supply a car and several crew members to augment Beth Paretta’s team from last year’s Indy 500. They tentatively have three races planned for this year starting in June. Additionally, ECR driver Rinus VeeKay, won the pole at Barber Motorsports Park and finished third. ECR driver Conor Daly qualified in the Firestone Fast Six at the Indianapolis road course two weeks before the “500” and finished fifth – good momentum leading into the “500.”

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Ed Carpenter shows off his new race suit before this year’s Indianapolis 500.

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Carpenter’s Dallara Chevy is prepped and ready to go – fast!

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Ed Carpenter Racing, Photo credit

Ed Carpenter Racing will be fielding three cars for the Indy 500 in 2022. Could this be the year that one of them visits Victory Circle?

 

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Pato O’Ward Interview

Pato O’Ward came into last year’s 2021 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach with an outside chance to clinch the championship. After contact early that ultimately led to his car’s retirement; that put a sour note on the ending of an otherwise strong, two-race winning season. In fact, his race wins earned him a McLaren Formula One Team test during the off-season.  Leading into this year’s race, O’Ward had disappointing finishes on the street circuit in St. Pete and on the oval at Texas (where he had a fast car). He was hoping to have better luck here on this picturesque seaside street circuit where he receives a lot of fan support around the track (especially the Mexican fans). We spoke before the race weekend and he shared his thoughts on a number of subjects leading into this race (where he would end up finishing in fifth place). That was good momentum for him going into the remainder of the season. Enjoy!

 

NOTE: In the next race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, O’Ward would go on to make a decisive pass late in the race and take the victory. He’s now won on a street course, permanent road course and an oval. Keep your eyes on this young lion.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Pato O’Ward waves to the crowd just minutes before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach where he qualified 11th and would go on to earn a top five finish.

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Pato O’Ward is on a mission this year to earn his first NTT IndyCar Series championship. After a rocky start to the season, things picked up in the right direction at Long Beach.

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Pato O’Ward rockets down Shoreline Drive early in the race. Notice how pristine and clean the car is. Later in the race the massive amount of rubber “marbles” on the track would take its toll on that clean car.

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O’Ward pushed hard in the race to earn his first top five finish of the year. Notice the rubber build up not only on the track but even on the body ramps in front of the rear tires.

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Late in the race, O’Ward’s still pushing hard to gain every position he can. Rubber tire marks makes for a filthy car, yet it always looks better when you have a strong finish.

 Interview and photos Copyright © by Larry Mason

 

 

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RaceSchool.com Podcast Christian Lundgaard Interview

Christian Lundgaard made a very positive impression in the NTT IndyCar Series when he was hired to pilot the Rahal Letterman Lannigan entry at the Indianapolis road course in August 2021 by qualifying fourth quick in his series debut. That drive made a strong enough impression that he was brought on full-time by the RLL team for 2022. At the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, he endured a tough weekend in practice, qualifying, warm-up and the race. We spoke with him on the way from pit lane back to the paddock immediately after the warm-up session and he was frustrated with his qualifying position and pace in the warm-up session. After winning multiple karting championships in Europe, he went on to race cars winning a championship in F4 and winning races in F3, F2 and became an Alpine F1 junior racer. Any driver who’s had that kind of success is certainly not going to be happy when they’re not up front. It’s interesting to hear what he has to say about it. 

NOTE: In the race, he ran out of fuel at pit entry which ultimately put him two laps down at the finish. It was a truly tough weekend.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Christian Lundgaard ponders with his crew what it’s going to take to find some missing speed.

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Christian Lundgaard waves to the crowd just minutes before the start of the 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Christian Lundgaard shares a fist/wing bump with the Firestone Firehawk. It was a nice positive moment for an otherwise tough weekend.

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Although he was pushing hard in Friday afternoon’s practice session with temps near 100 degrees, Lundgaard could only manage the 21st quickest time.

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Lundgaard’s RLL team was one of many Honda powered teams to run a memorial TE sticker (just under the aeroscreen) as a tribute to long time Honda manager of motorsports public relations, T.E. McHale who was instrumental in numerous Indy car driver’s careers and sadly passed away after an illness.

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Christian Lundgaard leads his teammate Jack Harvey at the start of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Harvey would go on to have a mildly better day finishing in 15th compared to Lundgaard’s 19th.

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It wasn’t for a lack of pushing hard that kept Lundgaard down in the race results. Here he’s using the curbs and in a four-wheel drift as you can see that his the wheels are mostly pointed straight at the apex of the corner.

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Rubber tire marks pelted Lundgaard’s car as he worked hard to finish better than where he started.

Interview and photos by Larry Mason

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Road Trip – Penske Racing Museum

The outside of the Penske Racing Museum fits right in with the local desert scenery. The outside of the Penske Racing Museum fits right in with the local desert scenery.

There are many famous names associated with the Indianapolis 500 – Foyt, Unser, Mears, Andretti and now Castroneves as the latest driver to join the four-time winner’s club. However, one name stands above the rest and that is Penske. Roger Penske and his Penske Racing teams over the years have amassed 18 (as of March 2022) Indy 500 wins. Many of those coming from Unser, Mears and Castroneves. The Penske Racing Museum in Phoenix is a worthwhile stop if you happen to be in the area. Some of the racing car history highlights include: Al Unser’s yellow Cummins/Holset/Miller March 86C that was being used as a show car in the lobby of the Sheraton hotel, when Unser got a late call to race in 1987. The Ford Cosworth powered car earned Unser his fourth Victory and he became the second driver behind Foyt to win that many. Right next to that is the famous red and white Miller American “Spin and Win” 1985 March Cosworth that propelled Danny Sullivan into the record books. In another area is not only the Sunoco McLaren M16B that Mark Donohue drove to victory in 1972 for Penske, but also the Hurst/Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible that was given to Donohue for winning the race. Only 130 Hurst/Olds Cutlass convertibles from 1972 were built! Will Power’s 2018 Indy 500 winning Dallara/Chevrolet (and Corvette Pace Car) join some of the newer additions along with Josef Newgarden’s 2017 championship winning car. Mark Donohue got his first start at Indianapolis in the 1969 “500” and his four-wheel drive Lola T-152 is there with a plaque stating that he finished seventh that year and earned Rookie of the Year honors. There’s even a 1974 Penske PC-1 Formula One car that Donohue raced. This is a significant car in that it was the first car designed and manufactured by Penske Racing in Poole, England. Of the cars with fenders showcased, Donohue’s 1973 Porsche RSR IROC car that he won the inaugural International Race of Champions event at Riverside International Raceway (RIR) is there. He won three of the four events that year to become the first IROC champion. Roger Penske himself was a driver before becoming a team owner. In fact he won at RIR in a 1963 Pontiac Catalina that was owned by Nichels Engineering. That car is showcased there next to Brad Kesolowski’s Brickyard 400 winner and Joey Logano’s Daytona 500 winning NASCAR stock cars. Multiple engines (including the “Beast” – 1994 Indy 500 winning pushrod Mercedes), and scale models (some of which are actually wind tunnel models) are also on display. If you’re a racing fan and can appreciate the “Penske Perfect” way, then this is definitely a must visit place for you. It’s the best bargain in town – Free! BTW, his Ferrari and Maserati dealerships are adjacent so that there is plenty more to see, and buy! For more information visit: www.PenskeRacingMuseum.com.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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The outside of the Penske Racing Museum fits right in with the local desert scenery.

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1985 (#5) and 1987 (#25) Indy 500 winners are just two of the special Indy cars on display.

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The one that got it all started winning for Penske at Indianapolis is the 1972 Sunoco McLaren driven by Mark Donohue along with the Hurst/Olds Cutlass convertible pace car.

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Two of the race winning Ford Fusion NASCAR stock cars will grab the “doors and fenders” race fan’s attention.

Photos by Larry Mason

 

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2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Review

The best way to describe this edition of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is that it was like a rollercoaster – lots of ups and downs when it came to the weather, racing and emotions. Friday’s temperatures were near 100 degrees with track temps about 130 degrees and while everyone anticipated that the weather would slow everything down, the exact opposite happened. The street circuit rubbered in so well that lap times fell like the temperatures would throughout the weekend.

Practice 1 for the NTT IndyCar Series was done in those really hot temps on Friday afternoon, yet the top time was over two seconds faster than the fastest time in the same session last year. Saturday’s temps were closer to the low 70’s with the sunshine still plentifully abundant when the NTT IndyCar Series took to the track for knockout qualifying. In the Firestone Fast Six, Colton Herta continued his mastery of the seaside street circuit that he won on last year to earn the pole. He waved to the Honda HPD employees in the Turn 10 grandstand on his cool down lap as a salute to all of their hard work. He was followed closely by last year’s pole sitter, Josef Newgarden. Alex Palou rounded out the top three. Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi claimed the next two spots enhancing the outlook on their season. Romain Grosjean completed the top six after losing his two quickest laps due to a shunt into the Turn 5 wall causing a red flag. Without that blunder, he would’ve started second.

At the start of the race, Herta pulled away immediately and opened up a significant gap to Newgarden and Palou. He easily led the first 28 laps until his first pit stop. After all the front runners had stopped, it was Palou who found himself in front until lap 54 of 85. From there, Team Penske did a great job to get Newgarden out front where he would remain for the rest of the race. However, it wasn’t that easy as he had to fend off strong challenges from Herta (who locked up under braking and smacked the wall in Turn 9 driver’s left), Palou and with just a few laps remaining, Grosjean who was on the Firestone “Reds” versus Newgarden on “Blacks.” Neither had any push to pass left and on a late re-start Newgarden took a super defensive line into Turn 1 and kept the lead. With a lap to go, Takuma Sato nosed into the tire barriers in Turn 8 (which collected a number of cars during the race) and so the race finished under caution. In the post-race press conference, Grosean admitted that even if they had a re-start it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

In the IMSA WeatherTech 100 minute race, Sebastien Bourdais started from pole with a new track record and pulled away until overtaking a backmarker in another class at the Turn 11 hairpin. As he went inside on the entrance to the corner he lost grip, went wide on the exit and nosed into the outside wall driver’s left. He had to wait to back up and get going again and dropped to dead last in DPi. At that point he was upset with himself and figured that he had nothing to lose by being aggressive in traffic and charging to the front. In his own words every time he needed to make a pass he was just going to “send it.” He did just that in the drive of the weekend and handed off to his teammate Renger van der Zande who dutifully brought the Chip Ganassi Cadillac under the checkered flag for an exciting win. It was an all-Cadillac podium with the sister Ganassi car in second and the JDC Miller Motorsports entry in third.

In the GTD Pro category, Corvette Racing snared the pole with Jordan Taylor although it was the Aston Martin Vantage driven by Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas that brought home the victory ahead of the Vasser Sullivan Lexus and rounding out the podium was the Corvette.

In GTD, it was the BMW M4 of pole sitter Madison Snow along with teammate Bryan Sellers who drove to victory over a super competitive field. The podium was rounded out by an Acura NSX and Lexus RC F.

The Historic Motor Sports Association Invitational was a real fan favorite with cars from the pinnacle of IMSA GTP and European prototype era. The sensational sleek and sexy looking cars still look modern even 30 years later. Furthermore, the variety of machinery from chassis to engines thrilled the fans ‘round the track. Former Porsche factory driver Patrick Long went two for two in the events on Saturday and Sunday in Tom Malloy’s Leyton House Porsche 962. Tom Long was second on Saturday in the beautiful in look, and in sound, four-rotor, silver and blue Mazda RX-792P. Jerome Rodela rounded out the top three on Saturday in the Eagle Toyota MkIII. On Sunday, McLaren’s Zak Brown brought his gorgeous Jaguar XJR10 home in second followed by the lone non-prototype Porsche 935 of Martin Lauber.

The Porsche Carrera Cup races had Kay van Berlo take both wins over a very large field that also had numerous caution flags throughout both races.

The Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Truck races were won by one family – Gordon. Both Robby and his son Max won with Robby taking the win on Sunday and 13 year old Max being victorious on Saturday.

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Colton Herta jumps out to an immediate lead at the drop of the green flag of the 47th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Unfortunately for him, a smack to the Turn 9 wall (after locking his brakes on Seaside Way with 30 laps remaining) ended his chance to win back-to-back.

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Late in the race Newgarden leads Palou and Grosjean. A late restart allowed Grosjean (on Firestone Reds) to get past Palou but he fell just short of winning and settled for second place. Notice the marbles off line.

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Here Josef Newgarden leads Colton Herta after great pit work by his Team Penske crew. Notice the rubber building up in the expansion joint and the marbles off line. 

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From L-R, Romain Grosjean, Josef Newgarden, and Alex Palou share the podium celebration holding up their hard-earned trophies.2022 AGPLB Bourdais T10 crop

Sebastien Bourdais had the drive of the weekend after qualifying on the pole with a new track record, dropping to last in the race and charging back to the lead before it was all said and done.2022 AGPLB HMSA start crop

Patrick Long put on a driving clinic against the other historic prototype drivers to take home two victories over the weekend.2022 AGPLB Max and Robby T10 donuts crop

Robby Gordon and his son Max celebrate Max’s win on Saturday. Dad Robby would win on Sunday!

Photos by Larry Mason

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2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview, Part 2

The 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns to its normal springtime calendar date (after being last year’s season finale in September) on April 8-10. In this week’s blog we’ll preview the main event – the NTT IndyCar Series.

After being last year’s season finale, where Alex Palou was crowned season champion and Colton Herta blitzed through the field from his 14th place starting position to win, there were no shortages of story lines heading into the weekend. This year, Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin is the hottest driver after winning the first race of the season in St Pete and then dominating the Texas Motor Speedway oval before being passed by his teammate Josef Newgarden just as the checkered flag flew. Either way, he brings a healthy points lead into Long Beach this weekend. He’s no stranger to this track and after competing and winning in Bathurst Australia in SuperCars, he will no doubt be competitive here. Although, those words would apply to most of the field as most teams have decades of setup experience here. 

Who to watch? Team Penske is on a roll. Currently their drivers hold three of the top four spots in the points. Newgarden has never won at Long Beach, however his teammate Will Power has. All three of these teammates have a great shot. 

Alexander Rossi won the last two races before the Coronavirus pandemic and has suffered bad luck in each of the first two races this year. Look for him to rebound at the Beach.

Colton Herta thrives on street courses and after having won last year’s event, it’ll be no surprise to see him back in Victory Lane.

It was at last year’s race that Romain Grosjean was announced as the newest driver for Andretti Autosport taking over the DHL car in 2022 driven for so many years by Ryan Hunter Reay. Grosjean hasn’t had a win yet and Long Beach would be the perfect track to do so.

You can never count out Scott Dixon, Palou or even their teammate Marcus Ericsson to finish on the top step of the podium for Chip Ganassi. Dixon’s done it here before. Palou finished fourth in a conservative drive last year and is only two points shy of second in the championship coming into this race. Their teammate Ericsson has unfinished business at Long Beach after crashing out in Turn 1 last year.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Arrow McLaren SP, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Meyer Shank, Ed Carpenter and Dale Coyne Racing teams can step it up and turn things around. There are multiple Long Beach and other race winners in that group. Specifically Pato O’Ward will have a huge cheering section, but don’t count out former Long Beach winners Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud. Graham Rahal seems to race better than he qualifies so he’s always a threat. Rinus VeeKay has already won an Indy car race and could add to that here while Takuma Sato has been running strong for Coyne and is also a former winner here.

Long shots? Kyle Kirkwood driving for AJ Foyt has shown impressive speed for that team and could surprise everyone. Callum Ilott learned the track last year and could impress this year along with Christian Lundgaard driving for RLL. Jack Harvey returns after concussion protocol and Felix Rosenqvist also wants to turn his season around and get back to winning.

For a complete weekend schedule, visit: https://gplb.com/weekend-schedule/

Photos by Larry Mason

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Will Colton Herta go two in a row at Long Beach?

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Will Alex Palou go from last year’s season champion’s Winner’s Circle to Victory Lane in Long Beach?

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Alexander Rossi will want to forget about last year and the start of this year and get back to his Sunday drive through the park and winning ways that he showed in 2018 and 2019 at Long Beach.

Photos by Larry Mason

 

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2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview, Part 1

The 2022 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach returns to its normal springtime calendar date (after being last year’s season finale in September) on April 8-10. In this week’s blog we’ll take a look at the support races during the weekend.

Highlighting the Saturday action will be the stars and cars of the IMSA WeatherTech Series. After two races and 36 hours of endurance competition, it’s all about the sprint at Long Beach – 100 minutes to be exact. Acura finished one, two at the Rolex 24hrs of Daytona and Cadillac swept the podium at the Sebring 12hrs. Acura will want to win their “home” race at Long Beach and the track record is held by Helio Castroneves in an Acura. However it was Cadillac that brought home the victory here last year. Top drivers from around the world will fight hard for victory in one of the marquee events of the season. 

GTD Pro is a new class taking over for GTLM this year. The cars are the same spec as the GTD class but feature pro drivers only. Keep in mind that the GTD cars typically employ one pro driver to be paired with an amateur driver so navigating traffic will be key in qualifying and the race. These two classes will provide the majority of entries for the IMSA race.

For those that yearn for the good old days of IMSA GTP, you’re in luck as the Porsche 962s and many more cool cars of yesteryear will have their own show to put on during the Historic IMSA GTP Challenge with two races over the weekend on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.

Sports cars are all the rage this weekend with the Porsche Carrera Cup Series making their Long Beach debut. These are all spec Porsche 911GT3 Cup race cars and since they are identical in build, should put on a great show on Saturday morning and closing out the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Over 30 cars are expected to take part in the racing action.

Of course Robby Gordon’s Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Truck Series always thrills the fans with their high flying act over the temporary ramp jumps installed around the track. These trucks grab big air time but are equally adept at “bicycling” around the track on two wheels. Their massive suspension travel allows them to really take advantage of using the curbs to cut the corners even further for a better lap time. The racing is superb too as “reverse aerodynamics” help the trucks in the back to have an aero advantage over the trucks in front. Don’t miss these truck races on Saturday and Sunday afternoon!

Not to be left out is the Super Drift Challenge. These high-horsepower cars with extreme steering angles will amaze anyone who sees how fast and how loose cars can get while producing billowing clouds of tire smoke as they race their way around the Turn 9 – Turn 11 complex. It’s almost like synchronized mayhem as the cars are released from Seaside Way to “pair up” with each other in the sideways sliding action. Friday night and Saturday night will thrill one and all with the loud and extreme party atmosphere of these incredible machines and drivers.

For a complete weekend schedule, visit: https://gplb.com/weekend-schedule/

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Will Acura win during the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend or will Cadillac spoil the homecoming?

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Robby Gordon’s Speed Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks are a high-fly act and fan favorite.

Photos by Larry Mason

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Spencer Bayston – World of Outlaws Sprint Car Driver

On a recent road trip, Larry Mason happened to meet Spencer Bayston, a young driver in the super challenging World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series (WoO). Bayston was gracious enough to give us time for a quick interview that sheds light on his type of racing. This interview was done on March 21, 2022. He’ll be racing in Bakersfield, CA on Friday the 25th and in Perris, CA on Saturday the 26th. If you’re able to make it out to either track, we think you’ll be impressed by the spectacle of flat-out sprint car racing. To follow his career please visit: www.SpencerBayston.com. For the full WoO schedule, please go to: www.WorldofOutlaws.com.

Enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Spencer Bayston is focused on winning the Rookie of the Year in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series in 2022. Photos by Trent Gower Photography

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In this photo of the left side of the car, Bayston works hard to place his WoO 410 sprint car on the best line around the Tulare, California track. The challenge is that the track is always evolving along with the best line to take. Photos by Trent Gower Photography

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In this three quarter front shot from Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida, you can see Bayston trying to put 900 hp to the ground while sliding just enough to maximize his speed around the track. Photos by Trent Gower Photography

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Blast From the Past – Fast Lane Racing School Graduate Wins Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race

04-20-2013-tpcr-win1-2 Adam Carolla 2013 Pro Race

A fan favorite at the Grand Prix of Long Beach over the years was the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Fast Lane was the official school to get all of the celebrities up to speed for their first time racing. In 2012 Adam Carolla won the event as a celebrity. He returned the following year as a Pro and won the event back-to-back! After his second race win I had a chance to talk to him about how it went and found out that a very unusual thing happened to him during the race that he had to overcome. Listen to his story and enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

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Indy Car Technology – One-on-One with Cara Adams, Chief Engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports Part 2

Cara Adams is the chief engineer for Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. She and her team play a key role in the reliability and performance of the cars in the NTT IndyCar Series. In Part 1, Adams gives you her background and intro into racing and delves into some of the details about race tire construction including the mechanical and chemical aspects and how that changes depending upon tracks and car configuration. In Part 2, she discusses how Firestone communicates with teams during race weekends to maximize performance and what happens to the tires once they come off the cars and more. Enjoy!

By Larry Mason

Copyright © 2022 Larry Mason

 

Cara Adams

Cara Adams is in her element on pit lane taking copious notes and communicating with the teams and media during race weekends.

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The numbers on this Firestone tire indicate durometer readings (hardness) and depth measurements.

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Here a team member heats and scrapes a worn tire clean to enable him to get a more accurate tire depth measurement.

Photos by Larry Mason

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