Throughout the past two weeks, members of the reigning Indy 500 champion team, Bryan Herta Autosport, will be blogging here on RACER.com. We end with team co-owner, Bryan Herta, with the final thoughts and preparations for this year's race.
A common theme in everyone's comments about racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is preparation. The teams spend more time practicing, testing, and developing their cars for this event than we do for the rest of the season combined. That alone tells you how important we feel competing for an Indy 500 victory is for ourselves and for our sponsors.
Add to that the challenge of understanding a new car and engine package this year, and this being the first oval race ever with those new components. It's easy to see why the importance of good preparation has never been higher. If all those factors are not enough, we are looking at the possibility of record high temperatures on race day, which will surely be noticed by the fans in the stands, but even more so by the drivers sliding around on what is sure to be the slickest track surface they have been on all month long.
The good news for Team Barracuda–BHA is that we have some of the top guys in the paddock preparing our setup and car for the race. The process really started with engineering a couple months before the race. Lead engineer Todd Malloy, along with second engineer Brian Page and design engineer Nick Heinz have logged countless hours running computer simulations, poring over mountains of data provided by Dallara, Honda, as well as our own testing. They have also spent time with the car in full-scale wind tunnel testing to better understand how it reacts in different configurations, testing various gearbox and upright components and lubricants to reduce even the smallest amount of friction. Finally, Todd takes all that information to create a setup for the car which decides which shocks and springs to run, the ride heights, tire pressures, wing angles, castor and camber settings, gear ratios, and a million other tiny details that can make the difference between a fast and a slow car on race day.
All that happens before we even turn our first lap of practice when the Speedway opened over two weeks ago. Since then, Todd Malloy has continued to mine data from our running with Brian Page to tweak every last ounce of speed from the car. Mother Nature always has her say in the process, and this year she has given us extreme heat for race day to factor into all the calculations.
Team manager Don Lambert has watched over the crew, led by Mark Shambarger, as they have meticulously perfected the car over the last several weeks, making sure that no detail has been overlooked. Even throughout the week of practice the crew guys are constantly improving the car, machining a new part here, tightening up the bodywork fit there. The process never stops…until now.
Now it is time to race. Time for all the hard work that the Team Barracuda-BHA guys have devoted to Alex Tagliani's car to be put to the test it was designed for. Time to finally see the car that has been massaged and tweaked into the wee hours of many nights turned loose in the most important race in the world, the Indianapolis 500. This is my favorite time because the work has been put in, we feel very confident with Alex behind the wheel, and the car is performing well on the track. Now our thoughts turn away from preparation to execution. Great starts and restarts, good handling in traffic, solid pit stops – these will be the difference-makers in the race and the thoughts that will run through all our heads from the end of Carb Day practice until the green flag waves on race day.
I want to publicly recognize the tremendous effort put in by our entire team to be ready for this year's race. Each member has sacrificed much to be sure our car is as well prepared as we are able to make it. The only thing left to do…Let's race!