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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
1/26/22 8:45 a.m.
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Balance of Performance is a harsh reality of today’s racing scene, whether you’re talking IMSA, NASCAR or even Formula 1. Its goal is simple: Level the playing field enough to keep one team from destroying the competition to the point where the rest of the field simply checks out and goes home.

But why can’t we go back to the …

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Patrick
Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/26/22 8:46 a.m.

You say Balance Of Performance

 

I keep seeing Buick Olds Pontiac

SuperDave
SuperDave New Reader
1/26/22 9:08 a.m.

One long time NASCAR fan's point of view:

Balance of Performance is not a thing in NASCAR.  They are all racing the same car with different decals on the front.   I think it applies, in theory, to all the major series getting TV coverage these days.  The team owners want lower costs and having a spec car is one way to do it.

A wide open racing series like old Can-Am is possible but expensive.  And sadly not as profitable for teams as a spec series.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
1/26/22 9:16 a.m.

Haven't really worked out a business model yet, but the starting point idea would be something like "Here are the safety rules, here are the specs for the fuel you need, and you get X gallons for the race. Have at it!"

Probably the best business approach would be to pitch it as a new top level for an existing racing organization - or if an existing series needed a do-over. Come to think of it - when was the last time you heard much about the Indy 500?

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
1/26/22 9:26 a.m.

"Here is $xxxxxxxxx number of $$$$$$.  This can be as huge a number as you want the series to be, so not talking Lemons here.

Please show up with car and receipts. Driver cost included. Air tunnel time  and track rental for practice also included.

 

If this sounds like the exponential version of the $2000 challenge, it is because it would be. Name one other series that has the scope of creativity and competition for a defined price.

The teams could be allowed to build on YouTube for revenue recovery back to Zero $$$ for the car. Good sponsorship opportunities also.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/26/22 9:28 a.m.

Tracks are the major limiting factor. If you have purpose-built tracks with massive (Bonneville-level) runoff room and get rid of spectators you can get away from the safety rules that are the major factor limiting F1 performance. This would instantly blow the limitations on aero and engine power wide open. Otherwise the rules wouldn't have to be massively different from F1, just allowing more cylinders/displacement, more hybrid power, bigger wings with double-DRS and maybe more driver freedom on its use, and sucker fans. Realistically they might end up making the cars remote-controlled pretty soon for driver safety reasons...

j_tso
j_tso GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/26/22 9:57 a.m.

Have only 4-6 races a year, and one of them be 24 hours.

This saves money on traveling logistics. One of the things really hurting the smaller teams in F1 is the 20+ race schedule.

Also it allows for development time. If a new 1500hp engine blows up, the problem probably won't be solved by next month's race.

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
1/26/22 10:11 a.m.

The Challenge is the closest thing we have to  unlimited racing.   
  The only restrictions are financial ( which is exactly in line with our title)  we can be as clever as we wish, Engine as big as we want, as light as we can , tires as wide as we can afford. 
        It doesn't even have to be  very reliable. Just enough to go as fast as possible in a 1/4 mile, and fast enough to do the autocross.  
 Heck you can push it into the judging.  
      
Any other event where budgets aren't  restricted just isn't Grassroots. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/26/22 10:21 a.m.

I think the answer will depend a lot on how you ask the question.  Having a fun and competitive amateur/club series is very different than a mass-marketed pro series that's designed to attract the most eyeballs and sell the most tickets possible.  And there are (at least) two different philosophies involved: one is the level the field as much as possible and let the best drivers win, the other is to show off technology and engineering to the greatest extent possible.  So in short:  what are the goals for the series?

carpeforza
carpeforza New Reader
1/26/22 10:29 a.m.

Formula None

No rules, no caps, no limits.

The fastest racecars ever created on the best race tracks of the world, that every GRM’er can engineer, create, and race their own creation against the best engineers and drivers in the world! Too good to be true? Not with computers and simulation!!

Bring in everything outlawed in F1: all wheel drive, 6 wheels, skirts, sucker fans, wangs, and add in directional rocket engines, full bodywork, or whatever your imagination creates. Everything just needs to be fully CAE modeled so that the car could be run through a real physics-based vehicle simulation to determine true performance. Any innovation, like rocket engines, would be disclosed to GRM, and if GRM approved, would guarantee exclusive rights for 3 races, and then shared with the community. Like a patent, but much quicker, which would make everyone faster and keep the racing competitive.

Think of it like iRacing with content that anyone can create a physics-based race car with no limits. It could be a traditional racing organization with 100 people, or one person in a shack in the woods, but all can race against the best. GRM would need to be the benevolent overlords to run the simulations, determine the race conditions, create content, host/stream the race sessions, keep the cheating to a minimum, and rake in the profits. Easily scalable to start off small for a trial and could overtake F1 for a real physical series around the world. 

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass HalfDork
1/26/22 10:38 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

Haven't really worked out a business model yet, but the starting point idea would be something like "Here are the safety rules, here are the specs for the fuel you need, and you get X gallons for the race. Have at it!"

Probably the best business approach would be to pitch it as a new top level for an existing racing organization - or if an existing series needed a do-over. Come to think of it - when was the last time you heard much about the Indy 500?

 

If we're talking an unlimited series, why bring in how many gallons of fuel you can use? If you use more it'll mean more pitstops, yes? So the racers will build with that in mind and findng their own balance that works best for them. 

No limit series - just make sure it's got the basics of safety and have at it. Run what ya brung. 

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/26/22 10:56 a.m.

We all know it's basically impossible for three main reasons.  First with no rules you can easily build a car that can corner so fast that the squishy meat sack steering wheel to seat back spacer will pass out.  Secondly, I don't see how any open rules series could last more than a few years.  We've seen it time and time again.  Give people an open rule book with the intention of making it easier for people to build something and it starts out great, then after a year or two it becomes an open checkbook series as with the biggest spender winning, then it get's so expensive that the original guys drop out, you have one or two teams left, the the board of directors pulls the plug and it's all over.  Most recently LMP1, when the hybrid era started everyone was over the moon at the different configurations of engine and hybrid system.  For a short time it was awesome, then it got so expensive that everyone left.  Yes, diesel gate helped, but it was already failing fast.  It can work up to a point at the club level right up until you get a Scott Tucker who comes along and throws a couple of million at building a D sport racer just to beat the lap record.  He managed it easily and made a mockery of the class.  You have guys scrimping and saving, even the 'big' guys who had actual sponsorship (normally from personal company sponsorship, friends companies, or industry) may have been spending $100k a year and he drops literally millions on obliterating the class.  While a complete douche bag Scott was a pretty good 'AM' driver, his 'Pro' driver who did the testing was approaching LMP1 times in a freaking D sports racer at Elkhart lake.  There's an outstanding Dinner With Racers podcast about that car with Jeff Braun his team principle.  Ep5 from Nov 2015 about that car.  Finally, at a pro level, no manufacturer is going to sign up to an open rule book.  It just has too many options and unknowns for them to build a business plan and go to the BoD and ask for an 8-9 figure budget.  That's why in Indy car and F1 they don't just say an X capacity engine, or even an X capacity V6 engine.  They have to specify limits on V angles, bore spacing, materials, valve angles etc. etc.  This was why F1 went to specifying V10's 3.0L engines back at the turn of the century.  The prior regs had started with V8, V10, and V12 with different angles and configurations, by the end of the tenure everyone was using V10's and those that had started with V8's and V10's had to throw away tens of millions of research $$ and start again when the V10 proved to be the best overall compromise of cylinders, size, weight etc.  No one likes uncertainty.

Now, having been a Debbie downer, here's what I'd do assuming a professional closed wheel series:

  • Mandate a spec pump fuel
  • Max fuel capacity
  • Max fuel fill flow rate
  • Max fuel flow rate
  • Minimum weight for hybrid unit to be deployed only over 100mph to front wheels only
  • Spec underfloor
  • MAx wing surface area.  Only single (or double) element wings allowed which must be in a single plane (no curved wings like the front of single seaters or what's coming this year in F1 for the rear.
  • Min body surface area
  • Max down force limit, max turbulent air
  • Min vehicle weight
  • Spec tires
  • Steel coil springs only.  Max 4 per car, no firth elements etc.
  • Steel sway bars, can only be straight solid steel
  • Spec steel brake discs <- single biggest thing you can do to help passing, increase the braking zone distance.
  • Min weight for brake calipers
  • All suspension components must be metal
  • Shocks cannot be adjustable in anyway while on the vehicle and must not have any sensors or control at any time
  • Mandated safety spec
  • Max price for customer cars and manufacturers must sell to anyone who asks, even competitors
  • Max cost of spares such that a car built from spares can't cost more than three times a new car, excluding off the shelf parts like fasteners.

And I bet that not a single manufacturer will sign up.

For club racing, we're kind of there with things like D sports etc.  It becomes self regulation on the upper end of the spending curve as it's all hobbyists unless a once in a generation a Scott Tucker comes along, but they don't stay around long. 

Even at the club level the customer has spoken.  Classes like the various SCCA sports car ones are light on entries, while the more tightly regulated classes are far more popular.  Or look at something like NASA where they haver much more of a run what you brung classing, but even then they give you points for changes and too many points put you in a higher category.  That is effectively their own BOP.  'Do what you like, but if its too much you move up a class'.

The only place left for really open competition is Pikes Peak and Rally Raid

 

trigun7469
trigun7469 SuperDork
1/26/22 11:10 a.m.

Autonomous vehicles, with robotic crew members working remotely, vehicles must run 100% on alternative fuels specifically on waste products.  Dakar rally style track through several continents. Unlimited HP, Can be any wheel drive 1 to 999. Suspension has a jump button like the Mach 5 and several other weapons to deter other vehicles from wining. Last vehicle standing wins.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
1/26/22 11:10 a.m.

For a racing series to be financially successful you need to figure out your source or sources of revenue and adjust the rules package to incentivize those revenue sources to participate. 

Most, if not all, of the financially successful series have most of their revenue tied to the number of spectators, both live and through video media (TV and streaming).  You need something that's compelling to watch for the casual fan.  That usually requires close racing which you're not going to get with an unlimited series.  Maybe for a while but, eventually the team with the most money is going to dominate.

A series with no rules except safety and a budget cap might be viable. 

 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
1/26/22 11:24 a.m.
hybridmomentspass said:
 

If we're talking an unlimited series, why bring in how many gallons of fuel you can use? If you use more it'll mean more pitstops, yes? So the racers will build with that in mind and findng their own balance that works best for them. 

No limit series - just make sure it's got the basics of safety and have at it. Run what ya brung. 

The idea is to give a small amount of balance but not too much. No matter how much a team spends, there's only so much energy in that fuel, and so this will create a point of diminishing returns when it comes to spending. At the same time, a rule like that doesn't single out any team or technology, and the only active tweaking it might need is more fuel or less.

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
1/26/22 11:26 a.m.

For a pro series there are some templates out there, despite my not liking it NASCAR has done a pretty good job. CART at it's Zenith would be another good example.

The main dilemma is that while racing nerds (us) get all squishy about the technology and innovation the average sports/race fan doesn't really care.  

People want to see racing. Case in point the SR71 is the fastest airplane ever; would you spend money to see one flash past your seat at 2400 mph..............the first two times would be cool but after the newness wore off it would get boring. 

Without some sort of limitations be it price or specs you end up with a dominate car/team; dominate cars running away from the field makes for a boring race. 

So with all that said here is my idea: a claimer class......................you can do anything you want but anyone can buy your car for 300K. 

Javelin
Javelin GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/26/22 11:44 a.m.

Specify safety standards and a maximum "envelope" the car has to fit in, otherwise go wild. Electric? Sure. 8 wheels? You got it. 

To control the spending is easy. You get ONE car the whole season, period. Blow it up, wad it up, tough E36 M3 you're out. 

Also, no financial prizes. Congratulations, you won the new Can Am! Here's an NFT trophy. See y'all next year.

jharry3
jharry3 GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/26/22 11:44 a.m.

Does anyone remember Group B?    I rest my case...

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/26/22 12:30 p.m.
jharry3 said:

Does anyone remember Group B?    I rest my case...

And that was actually quite regulated, not even close to open.  

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/26/22 12:34 p.m.

People have mentioned the spectators.  50+ years ago fans went gaga over Jim Clark or Fangio winning races by 1-2 laps over the whole field.  No one would stand for that today.  The 80's in F1 there was often 7-10 seconds between the front and back of the grid, not including the up to 10 cars that didn't qualify.  Now we see people laughing at how utterly crap Hass are when they are 3 seconds off the pace.  We as fans have spoken, we want close racing.

j_tso
j_tso GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/26/22 12:38 p.m.

In reply to jharry3 :

Group B died because of fatalities. Rally cars now are faster and much safer, and they cancel stages when spectators get too close.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/26/22 12:49 p.m.
NOHOME said:

"Here is $xxxxxxxxx number of $$$$$$.  This can be as huge a number as you want the series to be, so not talking Lemons here.

Please show up with car and receipts. Driver cost included. Air tunnel time  and track rental for practice also included.

 

If this sounds like the exponential version of the $2000 challenge, it is because it would be. Name one other series that has the scope of creativity and competition for a defined price.

The teams could be allowed to build on YouTube for revenue recovery back to Zero $$$ for the car. Good sponsorship opportunities also.

I love this idea. To add on to it, I propose "The Challenge Bubble" inspired by recent sports arrangements:

  • All teams housed in the same workshop/warehouse/campus Bubble.
  • Unlimited amount/expense/type of tools in the team's work space. Limited space though...
  • All teams have the same max size team. No one else is allowed to contribute. This effectively caps the total "man hours" per car.
  • Every expense is documented at the gate - what goes in must have a documented cost, including everything from raw materials to purpose-built engines. Everything else must be built on-site by the team.
  • All teams share a wind tunnel, engine dyno, chassis dyno in the Bubble. They all have the same allotment of time on each, or assigned day of the week, or similar arrangement.
  • All parts must be designed on-site. No internet access on CAD machines to prevent "outsourced" design cheating.
  • The whole winter build/prototyping/testing process is filmed Big Brother/Truman Show style. Access to footage can be episodes on TV or a paid portal for live viewing.

This has potential to bring back the possibility of the "driver constructor", like what Jack Brabham was able to accomplish in the 60s. A team could save on man-hours/budget by having the driver help build or design the car.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
1/26/22 12:54 p.m.

Money is the biggest killer of racing in so many ways. 

 

The biggest killer of a series is when someone gets ahead in the pocketbook race...

 

Hell, look at the Level 5 DSR special and what was. What it could have done was entirely kill a class if a small number of people decided to do an effort like that. If you are going to be outdone by someone with just more to throw at it. 

 

It even applies to spec series, there will ALWAYS be room to spend money for the last Nth. Time on a shaker rig, driver in the loop simulation for any setup nuances, testing, fresh spec parts...  there will be an area and if you try to control the areas, you play rules wack-a-mole.

 

The bring reciepts approach is the closest thing to working. Controlling time on computer rigs and verifying safety is the difficult area as well as continued vs new platform development costs. 

 

The other aspect is do you want actual racing, or just an engineering competition?  This is where F1 currently struggles, you have 2 maybe 3 teams with a shot, the rest are also rans and to shake it up usually takes a formula change. 

 

What if designs become open source after each season?

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
1/26/22 1:30 p.m.

Pretty simple rule book.  A maximum fuel rate, a minimum weight, and 205/50-15 200TW tires.

Art14
Art14
1/26/22 1:32 p.m.

As someone who has been around the sport and a fair number of racing series for over 5 decades, its my opinion that you cannot write money completely out of the rules or  out of the human brain. The folks with the most money simply hire the folks with the best brains and then spend the most money.

There is only one possibility that could work; and that would be to have a claimer rule of some sort on the entire car. Have basic safety rules in place and not much else, but have something in place to allow a car to be claimed by another series competitor for x amount of dollars. 

 

The amount does not really matter, that can be pounded out. A claimer rule is the only thing that would limit the expenditure of  buying ones way to first place. Yes it means that the fruits of someones thinking can be purchased, but then hasn't that always been the case?

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