Thursday, December 12, 2013

Interview with J.P. Montoya conducted at Auto Club Speedway

JPM as he commands a Dallara DW12 around Phoenix International Raceway. Image Credit: IndyCar Series

Interview with J.P. Montoya conducted at Auto Club Speedway

In an interview with past North American open-wheel CART champion, F1, Indianapolis 500, and the 24 Hours of Daytona race winning driver, Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM) at Auto Club Speedway on Monday (audio link below), he was very clear on this difference in driving a DW12 over a NASCAR Cup Car.

On Tuesday, Penske Racing team-mate Helio Castroneves and JPM took to the reconfigured and updated ‘oval’ track in Phoenix. After a very productive outing, JPM shared his thoughts with IndyCar .

This excerpted and edited from – 

Montoya’s testing program includes two fast ovals
By Dave Lewandowski – Published: Dec 10, 2013

Juan Pablo Montoya completed Round 2 of his acclimation to the Chevrolet-powered No. 2 Team Penske car Dec. 10. This outing was on the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval.
Last month, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner tested on the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway short course. Up next is a rescheduled session Dec. 12 at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval and a Dec. 16 date at the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway. Helio Castroneves, the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship runner-up and three-time Indy 500 champion, and four-time 500 Mile Race champion Rick Mears joined Montoya at Phoenix.

“Well, my first impression was when Helio started running. We did some laps in the road car and I said in NASCAR we brake here and here,” Montoya relayed. “And he was like, ‘No, this is going to be wide open.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ I will tell you, if you are standing in pit road and watch in Turn 1 how the car goes. In the straight it just goes fast, but you don’t really realize how fast he’s going until he turns and the thing just snaps into the corner. And then you like into (Turns) 3 and 4 and you know, ‘Wow.’ Your foot never moved. For me, the big difference is the entry to the corner. Once you get to the middle of the corner, whatever speed you have, you are committed to. You can see the exit, too, and you’re like, ‘Ahhh.’

“You just want to build to it and get comfortable with the feel. I’m still understanding what the car wants and what I want out of the car. You forget how fast an open-wheel car is (on the Phoenix oval). Around 6 seconds quicker than a Cup car a lap.”

“It’s funny because it’s a lighter car, but the wheel is like – everybody complained when I ran NASCAR how heavy my wheel was, everybody that drove my car, and honestly because we have no power steering, that’s how heavy it is,” Montoya continued. “What I remember, road courses, I understand it’s heavy, but I never thought that it would be heavy on an oval, but it’s like, ‘Hold your breath and turn.’ It’s breathtaking. The more laps I do, the easier it becomes, and it’s just that little bit.”
[Reference Here]

Interview with Juan Pablo Montoya during a scheduled testing session at Fontana this week which was postponed due to high Santa Ana winds. Ctrl-Click photo above to launch audio of interview (6:13)

JPM elaborated that the cockpit is much tighter than a stock car, so consequently, the arms use different muscles – it is like the difference between having the steering wheel very close to one’s chest and the elbows out (Cup style) vs having one’s arms straight out in front with less side-to-side leverage (Indy style) in order to turn the steering wheel – again, this requires the use of different muscles. Juan Pablo shared that this revelation has had him change his gym training regimen in order to build up the correct set of muscles in his arms.

Following a break for the holidays, Montoya will join Castroneves and Will Power for a manufacturer test in mid-January at Sebring. An Open Test is scheduled for March 16-17 at Barber Motorsports Park, and the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 28-30.

… notes from The EDJE

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mazda teams score at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The three Mazda teams raced brand-new 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel racecars.  These are not the same SpeedSource cars that won the 2013 Grand-Am GX Manufacturers Championship -- these are far-more production-based. Mechanically, the cars remain nearly stock, but the interiors were removed to accommodate an Anthony Woodford Racing roll-cage, a Sparco Pro-ADV racing seat , Safecraft racing seatbelts and plumbed-in fire systems and AIM MXL Pista dashes and data acquisition. Image Credit: Mazda Motorsports

Mazda teams score at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill

The USAF 25 Hours of Thunderhill saw a field of 57 cars racing in six classes (ES, ESR, E0, E1, E2, E3) going twice around the clock plus an hour over the 2.86-mile, 15-turn track located 90-minutes north of Sacramento.

The Venn, or set diagram that best showcases Mazda Motorsports and its efforts in motor culture are the overlapping portions of participants measured between endurance racing and club racing. This overlap was showcased on a brisk, but clear weekend at the longest endurance race in America, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA)’s US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill.  Of the 57 cars (60 entered) that took the green flag on Saturday, 16 of them were Mazda-powered, more than any other marque/brand. When the checkered flag dropped on Sunday, three of the six classes had Mazda racers on the podium, led by Mazda class-wins in the E2 and E3 classes.

Of particular interest to Mazda employees and dealers was the “Factory Guys versus Dealers” battle in identically prepared, modified-for-racing 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D clean diesels. The final score was dealers over the factory guys, but ultimately it was a win-win as the three Mazda6s were perfect on the powertrain front, all three finishing.  A few minor racing-related incidents resulted in suspension repairs, but great driving and amazing fuel economy meant that the #55 Mazda6, driven by Mazda dealers Richard Fisher (The Autobarn Mazda, Evanston, IL), Joel Weinberger (Continental Motors, Naperville, IL) and Taz Harvey (Dublin Mazda, Tracy Mazda, Dublin/Tracy, CA) finished on the podium in the E1 class.  The second Mazda dealer car finished fifth with the Mazda employees sixth.

“While Le Mans and Daytona are better known endurance races, the Thunderhill 25 can make a claim as being every bit as challenging,” said Robert Davis, MNAO Senior Vice President, US Operations. “For Mazda to come here with three brand new cars, prepped by volunteer employees on their own time, and a team of dealers and employees to drive them, speaks volumes about our cars and our people.  Equally important is having another dozen-plus customer teams who chose to race our products.  Success at this track is a combination of having the right cars and the right teams, and a little racing luck, and we’re pleased to have two more wins here.  Congratulations to everyone at Sector Purple Racing and RJ Racing on their E2 and E3 wins.”

Mazda class winners and podium finishers at the US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill:

Finish Position  -  Class  -  Car #  -  Team  -  Model

3rd Place  E1  No. 55  Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 Dealers A - Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel

The E2 Class winning No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata. Image Credit: NASA

The E2 Class was won by is the No. 78 Sector Purple Racing Mazda Miata, driven by  Kyle Watkins, Dan Williams, Glen Conser and Robert W. Ames.
"The plan was to come out stay incident free and not be off the track," Conser said. "We got good gas mileage, saved the tires and we put together a solid effort.  We had some contact in the middle of the night when Dan was driving, but that was about it for our trouble. We had very smooth pit stops and overall just ran a great race."

1st Place  E2  No. 78  Sector Purple Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata

The E3 Class the No. 23 RJ Racing Mazda Miata. Image Credit: NASA

 In the E3 Class the No. 23 RJ Racing Mazda Miata driven by John Gibson, Rob Gibson, Jamie Florence, Roger Eagleton, Gary Browne won the class.

"It was a really great run," said team representative Chris Hillebrandt. "Last year we blew a motor 12 hours in after winning in 2011. We had some mixed emotions coming in this year. We raced our race and we won it again. We really did not have a lot of issues. We had some small issue with our dash giving us a funny fuel reading. It would give us a number than go out. Sometimes we had to wait until it coughed to come in an fuel the car. The drivers and team did a great job."

1st Place  E3  No. 23  RJ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata

2nd Place  E3  No. 36  Spare Parts Racing 2 - Mazda MX-5 Miata

3rd Place  E3  No. 60  A+ Racing - Mazda MX-5 Miata
SlideShow LINK >>>

SlideShow LINK >>>
The No. 24 Rotek Racing Audi TT RS won the eleventh running of the United States Air Force (USAF) 25 Hours of Thunderhill today.  Following the Rotek Audi to fill out the overall podium was the No.83 Barrett Racing Porsche GT3 Cup in second and the No. 38 Radical West Radical in third. Image Credit: NASA

 Race Statistics:
705 laps covered by leader (laps x 2.86-track miles = 1,819 total racing miles covered)
13 caution periods
57 cars started, 40 finished
Fast lap of the race was set by Al Unser Jr. in the No. 52 JFC Racing Wolf, time of 1:37.789

Final and hourly timing reports are posted at

* Great mix of cars including Audi R8 LMS, Audi TT RS, Norma Sports Racer, Seat Leon, Lexus IS300, Mazda 6 Diesel, Miata MX-5 and RX-8, Acura ILX, Honda Civic, Honda CR-Z, Factory Five Racing, Chevrolet Silverado, Porsche 997, etc.
* Six classes of race cars E0, E1, E2, E3, ES, ESR
* 60+ entries in E0 7, E1 10, E2 7, E3 11, ES 17, ESR 9; 16 Mazda entries, 12 BMW, 4 Porsche, 4 Honda, 4 Acura

... notes from The EDJE