SPEEDWAY – It was a sight to be seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday afternoon.
It had nothing to do with a shiny new paint job or even a record-breaking speed. No, it wasn’t the fact that the cars are now going clockwise around the famed racing venue in preparation for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
What was so different-and perhaps a little mesmerizing for some fans was the fact that a Verizon IndyCar Series car was turning laps at the speedway in a steady downpour. It’s something many wouldn’t fathom on the two-and-a-half mile oval where racing slicks make even the slightest bit of precipitation treacherous.
“We actually developed this new rain tire using a lot of technology,” said Firestone Senior Project Engineer Cara Adams of the item on the cars that allowed them to do something an IndyCar hadn’t in the history of the speedway. “Including finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics and several other different programs.”All of these translate to an inaugural race that will take place at venue no matter rain or shine.
For the first time over the past week, rain tires were being stacked near the Firestone main garage on Gasoline Alley, preparing for any eventuality this weekend.
“The tire actually evacuates the water from the center of the contact patch, and these tread channels actually take the water away,” said Adams, pointing to the top of the the tire before Thursday’s practice at the speedway.
Already they were put to good use on Friday when showers were present during the morning practice and then during the three sessions of qualifications. In fact the final “Fast Six” was able to go off without problems despite steady showers through most of it.
Whether it rains or not on Saturday is still to be seen. If it doesn’t, the tire plan for the Grand Prix will be similar to that the race at Mid Ohio with teams being allotted five sets of the normal black walled tires while also receiving three of the stronger-gripping red wall tires.
“We tested the various configurations of the track,” said Adams, pointing out a number of pre-race runs at the facility to get the right tire to match the venue’s pavement.
Thought it took something out of the ordinary on Friday to make them a little more special for this week in May.