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Jason White
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PostSubject: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sat 7 May 2016 - 23:23

The 500 has produced some really crazy creative ideas over the years. Some successful, others complete failures, still others that on balance weren't much better than what others were running. Here are some memorable ones. Feel free to chime in with your own  Very Happy

1955. The Belond Miracle Power Special with a canopy.  It raced without the canopy.




1964. The Smokey Yunick "side car" design.  Originally was supposed to use a turbine engine. DNQ.






1982 Eagle Aircraft Flyer Special  Shocked  DNQ


1990. March 90P Porsche. The turbocharger was between the cockpit and the engine for better weight distribution. 
That's why the big exhaust port is on the side with the cowling heat shield! Bonus: It sounded amazing going by!





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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sat 7 May 2016 - 23:44

The Tucker Torpedo Special. Reminds me of the old Auto Unions from the late 30's


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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 0:10

Another one, the Kurtis Sumar special, which first appeared like so



But raced like this.



The reason, because the driver couldn't properly and was feeling claustrophobic in the car. Another fear was that he couldn't see the wear on the front tires, as couldn't the pit crew, so they would check the wear by touch Shocked

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 3:18

Roger Rager's 1980 Wildcat with Chevy engine originally used in a school bus and bought by the team from a scrapyard.

Roger McCluskey's 1972 Antares/Offy I belive this was the first Indycar/F1 car designed on a computer
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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 4:12


Rager's car didn't actually have a School Bus engine in it, that was a myth. It did use a Head from a school bus, not the whole engine.

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 4:20

Jason Fitch wrote:

Rager's car didn't actually have a School Bus engine in it, that was a myth. It did use a Head from a school bus, not the whole engine.

I figured as much

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Alberto Ibañez
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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 13:48

Those guys at Antares certainly had a reputation for doing crazy aerdynamic designs drunken

Here is a modified Brabham chassis in 1972, driven By Johnny Rutherford


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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 16:47

The case can be made that the Marmon Wasp was the first Indy oddball.  It was the only car in the race without a riding mechanic, and the only car with a rear-view mirror.  Must have seemed odd to the other teams.


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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 17:43

Alberto Ibañez wrote:
Those guys at Antares certainly had a reputation for doing crazy aerdynamic designs drunken
Forget the aero...the front suspension geometry is just as baffling. scratch

Though Dallenbach's old chassis was still able make the show in 1979 once the aero was changed around.

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 18:14

Quote :
Forget the aero...the front suspension geometry is just as baffling

I think it is an attempt to do a multilink progressive one as seen in modern motorbikes (Don't look, I think you won't find it in yours :hihi: ). The idea is that the suspension when compressing will not exert all the force against the body joint, but lose some when moving the intermediate articulated link. This prevents the body from receiving so much input and helps making it more stable and isolated from the suspension movements.



For low weight vehicles as motorbikes it works well, not sure if it does on cars but the fact that modern formula don't have it seems to indicate it is not worth the extra weight.

In the particular case of that Indycar, the whole thing standing in the airstream must have been terrible for the aerodynamics Suspect

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 18:21

The Cummins Diesel was an awesome machine. Pole-sitter in 1952 with Fred Agabashian.




The twin Porsche engined car by Albert Stein, not so much. DNQ in 1966.



Smokey Yunick's winged Watson roadster:


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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 18:22

With clear endplates!   Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Sun 8 May 2016 - 18:37

1963. The Mickey Thompson "rollerskate" which made use of smaller wheels.  Extremely low frontal silhouette.





In 1964, the rules didn't allow the small wheels, which meant with bigger wheels the car was higher off the ground, and this dramatically affected the handling.  Mickey's novel aerodynamic ideas did not help matters, as they caused massive lift.  It got better after they trimmed off the tops of the fenders, but it was still not a good situation.  IMO, Mickey should have abandoned the design when the wheel size regs changed, but hindsight is of course always 20/20.  What role the car's odd handling played in the Sachs-MacDonald crash is a point of much debate.


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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Mon 9 May 2016 - 3:34

1948. A six wheeler built by Pat Clancy, driven by Billy DeVore to 12th place in the race.


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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Mon 9 May 2016 - 3:53

Alberto Ibañez wrote:
Quote :
Forget the aero...the front suspension geometry is just as baffling

I think it is an attempt to do a multilink progressive one as seen in modern motorbikes
Unfortunately not. Sad The designers' computer was apparently just fond of drag and dramatic camber curves.

Karl Ludvigsen took quite a few shots of the Antares so high-res technical pictures of the cars are available in his 1972 Indy photoset on the Revs Digital Library:
https://revslib.stanford.edu/?f[venue_ssi][]=Indianapolis+Motor+Speedway+%28Speedway%2C+Ind.%29&page=2&per_page=100&range[pub_year_isim][begin]=1972&range[pub_year_isim][end]=1972&search_field=dummy_range
(1972 is a great year for Indy weirdness so the whole set is gold, by the way)

Savage's car:

McCluskey's, with the top link's front pickup point relocated:


And, on the more positive side, a nifty shot behind the nose:

And of the adorable little diffuser wing:

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Mon 9 May 2016 - 3:59

1995.  The Lola-Menards with the odd bulge accommodating the latest version of the former Buick engine. The fans called these "humpback whale" or "bubble" cars.

They were the class of the field in qualy thanks to the higher boost they were allowed under the rules, but on race day they really struggled in traffic.  The thoroughbred racing engines wound up faster, and were better-suited to the 500 mile task. 


#40 Arie Luyendyk. Qualified 2nd; finished 7th


#60 Scott Brayton. Polesitter; finished 17th


#80 Buddy Lazier. Started 23rd as a late qualifier; DNF.

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 16:46

1964-69. The MG Liquid Suspension Special.
Named the "Liquid Suspension Special" because it used hydrolastic shock absorbers.  






Bob Veith in a Liquid Suspension Special. 1964.


Walt Hansgen in a Liquid Suspension Special. 1964.

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 17:59

Another pre-Chaparall wing car. Not sure if it ever was tried out at Indy, but it ran at Phoenix in 1966 just before Indy. Eisert-Chevy, driven by non other than Al Unser!





At Indy, a Bob Mathauser was entered in a #96 Harrison Special, which may have been this car, but I do not know if it ever ran, it sure as hell didn't qualify!

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 18:29

Quote :
The designers' computer was apparently just fond of drag and dramatic camber curves

So you think the whole thing was just an attempt of having a shorter upper arm for a more agressive camber curve, and because the joints had in that case to be off the body it just had that structure protruding?

Looking at the hi res pics you posted it seems that the triangle that joins the body is indeed fixed and not articulated, so that can certainly be the case :hum:

But it seems really crazy to go with such a camber curve at 150 MPH round a turn Suspect

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 19:49

Well, the Antares design team was largely engineers from the defunct Chevy R&D performance group so my impression is that they wanted their first design to act somewhat as a testbed for further developments. The triangulated support for the top-front link would have then made a tiny bit of sense as it'd allow them to experiment somewhat with geometry(roll center, anti-squat, etc) without having to modify the monocoque.

Alternately, and certainly more likely, is that they settled on geometry they knew to be a bit crap in order to keep from obstructing the radiator tunnels at the heart of the design. The unique profile of the car is said to have been an attempt at using the Meredith effect to create thrust from the cooling system. If you look at the nose-off shots, the only thing allowed to run across the tunnels is the steering rack. The top-rear link is then mounted to the outside of the tunnel, necessitating a standoff for the top-front link. Huntington's 1981 book on Indy development history says Antares' simulations indicated the car could run 200mph laps because of the thrust generated but that clearly did not come to pass.

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 19:56

Jason White wrote:
1995.  The Lola-Menards with the odd bulge accommodating the latest version of the former Buick engine. The fans called these "humpback whale" or "bubble" cars.

They were the class of the field in qualy thanks to the higher boost they were allowed under the rules, but on race day they really struggled in traffic.  The thoroughbred racing engines wound up faster, and were better-suited to the 500 mile task.

Another part of the reason they struggled in the race was because they had been running illegal boost in qualifying and were being penalized by USAC in the race.
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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 20:08

Alan Forster wrote:
Jason White wrote:
1995.  The Lola-Menards with the odd bulge accommodating the latest version of the former Buick engine. The fans called these "humpback whale" or "bubble" cars.

They were the class of the field in qualy thanks to the higher boost they were allowed under the rules, but on race day they really struggled in traffic.  The thoroughbred racing engines wound up faster, and were better-suited to the 500 mile task.

Another part of the reason they struggled in the race was because they had been running illegal boost in qualifying and were being penalized by USAC in the race.

Ah yes -- that is true. I wonder why ABC didn't mention this in the race coverage. Perhaps they were left out of the loop.

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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 20:32

Jason White wrote:
Alan Forster wrote:
Jason White wrote:
1995.  The Lola-Menards with the odd bulge accommodating the latest version of the former Buick engine. The fans called these "humpback whale" or "bubble" cars.

They were the class of the field in qualy thanks to the higher boost they were allowed under the rules, but on race day they really struggled in traffic.  The thoroughbred racing engines wound up faster, and were better-suited to the 500 mile task.

Another part of the reason they struggled in the race was because they had been running illegal boost in qualifying and were being penalized by USAC in the race.

Ah yes -- that is true. I wonder why ABC didn't mention this in the race coverage. Perhaps they were left out of the loop.

No one knew at the time(not sure if most of the team did?) it only came out much later on, the team had been complaining that they had been given dodgy pop-off valves in the build up to the race. According to the story the team manager gave Brayton more boost(than Luyendyk) in qualifying as they had agreed to split the prize money for pole!
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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Tue 10 May 2016 - 20:39

Lets not forget the Lotus 56 Pratt & Whitney gas turbine car. Qualified 1st and 2nd, and almost won and of course 4-wheel-drive.




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PostSubject: Re: Indy 500 Oddballs   Wed 11 May 2016 - 1:36

The Jim Hurtubise Mallard was an oddball in the sense that it kept coming back to the speedway looooooong after roadsters ceased being competitive. Hilarious story:  On "bump day" in 1972, Hurtubise put the Mallard in the qualification line shortly before the 6 p.m. deadline. The time expired before it was his turn. He removed the engine cover to reveal that the car had no engine, but five chilled cases of his sponsor's product, which he shared with pit crews and race officials.


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