Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

What next for Danica? Talladega Cup? And what's this about RoushYates and Formula 1?

  Doug Yates: Formula 1? (Photo: Autostock)


   By Mike Mulhern


   So now is it time to up the pressure on Danica Patrick to take the wheel of a Cup car, after her solid performance in Friday night's Nationwide 250?
   She certainly provided a nice bump to the sport, running up front and leading with four to go, working well with teammate Aric Almirola and having a shot at the win.

   Before the race she insisted she didn't have any plans to run Sprint Cup this season, and the sense has been that her game plan has been to run the full Nationwide series in 2012 with maybe seven Cup races.
   However she's been at this Nationwide thing for a year and a half now, and running Nationwide, over the years, hasn't really been great school for the rough-and-tumble Cup world.
   To learn how to race a Cup car you have to race a Cup car.
   And with this sport needing a bit of a boost right now, pressure may be on Chevrolet racing executives, like Jim Campbell, to make something happen for Patrick in Cup this season. And Campbell, here for the 400, says he'll study the situation.
   After watching Patrick's performance here Friday night, an informal Twitter poll showed solid support for her to try Cup at Talladega Oct. 23.



A dramatic finish for Danica Patrick (7) when she got caught up in last lap crash Friday night in the Nationwide 250, after a solid performance (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   That's not the only hot story line here this week, while awaiting the start of Saturday night's Coke Zero 400:  
   Formula 1?
   With the Austin, Texas, event now a 'go' for 2012, F1 is a hot topic in the U.S. again.
   Now engine whiz Doug Yates, who helped design Ford's new NASCAR FR9 engine, and whose father Robert is a stock car racing legend, reveals he has been approached about starting a Formula 1 engine program. And Yates says he's intrigued and interested in the option.
   The first option, he said, was to work on a four-cylinder F1 engine. "I'm kind of thankful right now that we're on the sidelines watching the race tracks fight over what they want the engines to sound like," Yates said. "But we'd love to be involved in that someday.
   "You just keep your opportunities open."
   How much would such an F1 project cost?
  "It takes a lot of funding to do one of those programs, so you'd have to have a manufacturer or a technical partner to do something like that," Yates said.
   "We estimated just the R&D would be $25 million to $30 million.
   "That was the whole push – there will potentially be a short-fall in (F1) engine manufacturers: Can Cosworth make that jump from their current engine?
    "That's why we got the call – who is going to fill that void? 'Hey, we need more engine manufacturers in the sport.'
    "It would take a lot of money….but we could do that.
    "We just decided to wait. And I'm glad we did….."
    Because Formula 1 – always a hot bed of high-dollar intrigue that can make NASCAR intrigues seem like weak soap operas – is in a major state of flux, again, at the moment.


  Engines, engines, engines. Can Doug Yates turn the production Ecoboost into a race engine? (Photo: Autostock)

   But NASCAR and Formula 1 have a lot in common, on the technological front, with several top F1 men having come to stock car racing in recent years, and with F1 technology – including those amazing computer simulation operations – running rampant in this branch of the sport for many seasons now.
    "We have several friends over there, like Mr. Ferrari. We try to stay connected. It's all technology," Yates says.
   "The advancement in these engines has been in materials and coatings….and usually it's whoever has the best funding gets there first.
   "They've been doing more R&D than we do, though that has evened out a little. We just don't have the budgets they do…though we're catching up.
   "It's exciting. We love engines."
   Indeed Yates, who gave up his hat as a NASCAR team owner a few years ago, seems to be having a lot more fun running the RoushYates engine operation than he ever did as a Cup team owner.
    For two years now Yates has been in high-gear, expanding the engine operation to a world-wide brand, playing on the NASCAR angle.
   "We love engines. We like working on all kinds of engines," Yates said.
   "We build engines that race all over the world: Australia, China….
   "We want to let people know we are a performance company. We race NASCAR and build NASCAR engines….and that's a platform for us to go tell people about the other things we do.
   "I'm one of the luckiest guys in the world – to have my dad as an engine guy, and to have Jack, my partner, as an engine guy.
    "We took our time (with the development and introduction of the FR9 engine), and we took some heat from the press over that. But to do things right it does take time."



Danica Patrick (7) and teammate Aric Almirola (88) at the head of the pack. Is she ready for Sprint Cup action? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   Who approached Yates about a possible Formula 1 engine program?
   He wouldn't say specifically. Renault has been in favor of the four-cylinder engines, while F1 rivals Ferrari, Mercedes and Cosworth were not in favor the four-cylinders, preferring V-6s.
   "It would take a major initiative, or major manufacturer or technical partner to do that," Yates says. "But as a company we have the pieces in place where we could do that, if funded properly."
    It is the RoushYates NASCAR program that has opened the doors. And over the past two years Yates has rapidly expanded the engine operation.
   "We have great funding, on a high-level, to develop high-end engines," Yates says.
   "People look at NASCAR (as perhaps low-brow)…..well, now carburetors are going away, and maybe that will change the way people look at NASCAR.
   "But these (NASCAR engines) are really high-end Formula 1 pushrod engines. There is a lot of technology here. A lot of the test equipment we have is amazing."
   At the moment Yates is working on a new sports car engine:  "We are in discussions right now with Grand Am about running the Ecoboost engine. We have been working on that engine. And obviously it's a great platform for Ford Motor Company.
   "It's a great engine…and it would make a great racing engine too."
   More immediately, the next engine development here in NASCAR is the pending switch from the venerable carburetors (which haven't been used on street production cars in years) to fuel injection. A major test is set for Thursday at Kentucky Speedway.
    "It's not hard to inject one of these engines…it's just the details – like, do the coils have enough capacity," Yates says. "Starting the (FI) engine, interestingly, is an issue.
   "We were testing this past week at Rockingham, and it went well. It's just all the little things that you might take for granted."

    But is fuel injection really a project NASCAR needs to undertake right now, given the tough economic straights many teams in this sport are in?
   Yates agrees times are tough in the NASCAR garage: "And it's changing daily. It's in flux, and we've got to get that reset. It's something we all have to work through."
  "But fuel injection is exciting, because an engine builder like opportunities. Any rules change is an opportunity to get an advantage…and you win with advantages.
   "Advantages come and go, and there are a lot of smart guys here building these engines. But it's an exciting time."
   What is the current state of NASCAR engines anyway?
   Ford's FR9 was the hot ticket here in February, finishing 1-2-3 in the Daytona 500. But then the Hendrick Chevy guys showed power at Talladega, and Richard Childress' guys….and lately Roger Penske's Dodge guys have come on like gangbusters.
   "It moves faster than I've ever seen," Yates says of NASCAR engine technology.
   "You can talk about sponsorship woes and all that, but performance gains and improvements are happening faster than ever. So you can't relax.
    "Everyone is leapfrogging. It used to be yearly….then half-yearly….then quarterly….now it seems to be even faster than that."


   Speculation that Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be expanding its NASCAR weekend race action in 2012 should be answered during a press conference Wednesday. Indications are that the Grand-Am series will run Thursday that race weekend, and Nationwide perhaps Saturday, leading up to Sunday's Brickyard 400 next year. The Nationwide series has run annually, during Brickyard weekend, at Raceway Park, across town from IMS.

   Richard Childress is expanding his four-team Sprint Cup operation, hiring Torrey Galida to a post as chief operating officer, naming Ben Schlosser as chief marketing officer, and promoting Scott Frye to chief financial officer.
   Galida will be in charge of day-to-day business operations.
   Childress pointed to Galida's "significant experience" in the sport.
   "He will be a great asset as we position RCR for the long-term.
   "People are the key to any successful business, and we are fortunate to have such a strong management team."
   Galida, a top official for years at Ford, and then a key executive for Jack Roush's NASCAR team, has been working with TRG Motorsports most recently.


Car owner Richard Childress (R) and Charlotte winner Kevin Harvick (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Seems like just another

Seems like just another effort to draw in extra revenue by positioning themselves much like Cosworth or Ilmor.Perhaps they see that see that not much more is left to squeeze from the Nascar tree.

BTW: Regarding his comment about "Mr. Ferrari". Enzo Ferrari died years ago, and his son doesnt have the clout his dad had. Luca Di Montezemola is the man running Ferrari now.

I Think That Danica Patrick

I Think That Danica Patrick should make her Sprint Cup Series Debut at the Brickyard 400 on Sunday July 31,2011.

"NASCAR and Formula 1 have a

"NASCAR and Formula 1 have a lot in common, on the technological front"

Oh, please. A F1 has an 800hp powertrain (720 + 80) and weighs 640kg.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com