IRL, Indy 500: Infiniti Indy Practice Report
19 May 1999Infiniti Indy Design Team Members - Frank Honsowetz, Manager, Infiniti Motorsports; Stuart Duncan; Hans Hermann; Ed Pink, Ed Pink Racing Engines; Yoshio Taguchi, Manager, Motorsports Development Section at Nissan in Japan.
Drivers attempting to qualify for the Indy 500 using Infiniti Indy
Robbie Buhl, No. 44 Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold D/I/F
Eddie Cheever Jr., No. 51 Team Cheever/The Children's Beverage Group D/I/G
Roberto Guerrero, No. 50 CBR Cobb Racing G/I/F
Scott Harrington, No. 66 Harrington Motorsports D/I/F
Jeret Schroeder, No. 96 Purity Farms CBR Cobb Racing G/I/F
Infiniti Indy Improvements: Faster and Lighter - The Infiniti Indy design team has made significant improvements to the V8 engine since its debut at Orlando in 1997. The current phase 2.5 engine has 110 more horsepower and weighs 64 pounds less than the first Infiniti Indy.
Since last year's Indy 500 the engine has gained 31 horsepower (even with the rule changes from 10,500 to 10,300 rpm) and lost ten pounds from internal enhancements.
Technical Feature: Infiniti Indy Track Support-Every lap that an Infiniti Indy engine completes on track is an opportunity to learn more about the power plant. For this reason a qualified engineer is on site every time the engine is run.
Mark Honsowetz-brother to Frank Honsowetz-works for Ed Pink Racing Engines, and provides support at the track. By debriefing with the drivers and team engineers and monitoring telemetry, Honsowetz has several responsibilities that are crucial to the development of the Infiniti Indy. First, he ensures that the engine is running at its optimum performance, second he looks for warning signals for engine problems, and third he tracks the results of changes and new parts. All the reports and data collected by Honsowetz during an on track session-be it a test or a race-are reviewed by the design team and new improvements are made for the next time the Infiniti Indy goes on track.
Team Cheever and Infinti Indy Develop the Engine of the Future-Since Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. announced his team's switch to Infiniti Indy power on April 6, the team has tested a total of seven days with its new power plant before opening day for the Indy 500. Infiniti Indy Motorsports Manager Frank Honsowetz reports that the information from these test dates has created "an almost overwhelming amount of improvements to make to the engine, which is exactly what we want." Once proven to make the engine faster and/or more reliable, an update is made to every Infiniti Indy that goes on track. "The development plan we have with Team Cheever greatly benefits all our teams," stated Honsowetz.
Engine Builders: The Final Step Before the Race Track-Two engine builders currently prepare Infiniti Indy power plants for teams in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, Ed Pink Racing Engines and Tom Hooker Engines.
Manager of Infiniti Motorsports, Frank Honsowetz, describes the relationship between engine manufacturer and engine builders: "What we do at Infiniti is make and acquire all the parts. An engine builder is like a chef. We give them all the ingredients and the recipe-which is to say the parts and a manual, with all the dimensions, clearances and assembly procedures. They do the rest of the work. Like world-renowned chefs, they start with all the same ingredients, but depending on how they prepare the seasonings and how long they cook the food and at what temperature, the final result may vary. The ultimate goal is to make the engines reliable and fast."
Best Result for 1999: 3rd at Phoenix, Robbie Buhl,
Best Result for 1998: 4th at Texas in Sept., Roberto Guerrero, CBR Cobb Racing
Best Result for 1997: 2nd at Orlando, Mike Groff, Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham Racing
1998 Indy 500 Recap-One Infiniti Indy powered car qualified for the 1998 Indianapolis 500: Dr. Jack Miller qualified 15th with an average speed of 217.800 mph., and finished 21st.
1997 Indy 500 Recap-Infiniti had six cars in the 1997 Indy 500: Mike Groff (started 18th, finished 12th), Lyn St. James (started 34th, finished 13th), Dennis Vitolo (started 28th, finished 15th), Johnny Unser (started 35th, finished 18th), Dr. Jack Miller (started 17th, finished 20th), and Roberto Guerrero (started 19th, finished 27th).