Brian Barnhart is a turbo lover

Posted by Iannucci | 6/26/2008 | 12 comments »
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You won't hear me, but you'll feel me
Without warning, something's dawning, listen.
Then within your senses,
You'll know you're defenseless
How your heart beats, when you run for cover
You can't retreat, I spy like no other.

Then we race together. We can ride forever.
Wrapped in horse-power, driving into fury
Changing gear I pull you tighter to me.

I'm your turbo lover.
Tell me there's no other.
I'm your turbo lover.
Better run for cover.

Oh, there’s good reason for quoting the worst Judas Priest song ever.

The next generation of engines was the primary subject of this week's Indy Racing League round table meeting with manufacturers, and league officials came away with a clear direction of where others want the sport to head.

"When we heard the enthusiasm around the room as to what turbochargers could bring to the series, I don't think that will be a barrier at all," said Terry Angstadt, the president of the IRL's commercial division.

Brian Barnhart, the IRL's president of competition and operations, said that while turbochargers will come at a cost, they are more adaptable to the sport's various types of circuits and create a natural muffler.

"It's nice to turn our decibels down a bit," he said. "They have a nice sound."

(MORE from IndyStar)

If it takes the addition of turbochargers to bring back more engine manufacturers to the series then so be it, because that’s certainly a larger goal than arguing over what kind of engines are being used. However, let’s all at least be honest and acknowledge that this would be yet another step towards building the 1994 version of CART and not the 2009 version of the IndyCar series.

Go ahead and turn down the sound and add another level of complexity and cost to he vehicle, but please don’t forget to try to incorporate something new into the motors at some point. Race cars are far more interesting when they’re used as a proving ground for new technologies and not a reminder of older ones.


  1. mmack // June 26, 2008 12:27 PM  

    "It's nice to turn our decibels down a bit," he said. "They have a nice sound."

    It's Hell getting older, but I vaguely remember back in the old 2.65L turbo days at Indianapolis that the cars weren't all that much quieter than the 3.5L NA V8's Honda provides now. Admittedly, back when the IRL first went to the Stock Block formula (1997-2001), the engines did have a different exhaust note that was perceptibly louder. But my memory tells me it was just as loud at Indianapolis in 1995 as it is in 2008.

    As for bringing in new manufacturers and technology, if it brings in Audi and Peugeot with open wheel racing versions of their V12 turbo diesels (perhaps as V8's, since the Audi R-10's V-12 engine comes in at a whopping 5.5L), then I'm for it, especially if the engines can be tuned to run on "clean" diesel fuel or even bio-mass based fuel. The question is can either manufacturer develop an effective diesel engine at a smaller (2.7L or less I'd imagine) displacement?

    The big question is: Does this mean NA engines are completely out of the question in the new formula?

  2. Zappatista // June 26, 2008 1:08 PM  

    I agree with most points that have been hashed. I think the most important thing (man I hate Miller!) to bring back more manufacturers is to ensure that what is in the ICS has some resembelance of what you can go out and buy on the market, ie turbo. As long as there is something we can call competition, I am for it. I loved it when Infinity was powering Cheever, and man they were fast, too.

  3. Michael // June 26, 2008 5:31 PM  

    Turbos aren't old technology, many OEMs are going back to them because of efficiency, so it makes sense for the IRL to go this way. Plus it allows for the power to pass gimmick, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

  4. Jeff Iannucci // June 26, 2008 6:40 PM  

    There are three things I truly despise in sports: artificial turf, instant replay rules, and the Power To Pass gimmick.

    If the Indy Racing League adopted that Champ Car abomination I would likely close this site. Really, it's that wrong.

  5. Tim Wohlford // June 26, 2008 7:29 PM  

    I took part in that press conference, and was shocked to hear that the IRL people love turbo whines. After all, wasn't the first IRL marketing attempt something like, "The whine is gone"?

    Having said that...

    Paul Dana might've saved motorsports when he brought ethanol (EPIC) to the IRL. Suddenly, auto racing is seen as a test bed for alternatives to the petrol / piston technologies.

    In addition, Indy provides the PR exposure so they can get continued funding and gain public acceptance.

    In fact, that's what EPIC has gained at Indy -- some level of R&D, continued investment (both public and private), and no one makes "gasohol" jokes anymore.

    Therefore, it would be nice if Indy could do something... radical. How about biodiesel motors? Kinetic Energy Recovery devices? Hydrogen or LNG? God Help us... Turbine motors??

  6. Anonymous // June 26, 2008 7:34 PM  

    Turbos are old technology? Oh noes!!!

    Thank God four wheeled vehicles, internal combustion engines, fire suits and crash helmets aren't old technology.

    Thank God for that.

  7. mmack // June 26, 2008 7:41 PM  

    Turbos aren't old technology

    The Cummins Diesel special brought the first turbocharged engine (based on a Cummins bus engine) to Indianapolis way back in 1952. Before then turbochargers, in the guise of turbosuperchargers (either through true turbocharging only, or a combination of supercharging and turbocharging) had been around in aviation since the 1930's, being used mainly to inprove the high altitude performance of piston engines.

    Ironically turbocharging came back to Indy Cars in the late 1960's as Meyer-Drake engineering tried to keep the famed Offenhauser four cylinder competitive in the face of the Ford DOHC V8. At this point the basic Offy design dated back to the early 1930's, and could draw a lineage to mid-1920's Harry Miller 4 cylinder engines. It gave the Offy a second lease on life until the Cosworth DFX appeared at Indy in the mid-1970's.

    So turbocharging's been around longer than people think.

  8. mmack // June 26, 2008 7:45 PM  

    God Help us... Turbine motors??

    If they bring back the turbine, bring back the Offy and the Novi V8. And Andy Granatelli too!


    mmack, wondering if they still make those STP crew "pajamas".

  9. Wild05gsu // June 26, 2008 7:56 PM  

    I got a pair of thost STP pj's wore em to Carb Day this past year. Although it rained :(

  10. Grizzlor // June 27, 2008 6:26 AM  

    First of all, there is no such thing as new technology in automobiles from the sense that almost everything you here about was first invented or tried decades ago, but the auto industry wouldn't use it. The next technology is in electricity of some kind, but I don't know if we want to see that in racing? Turbo's have a fantastic, unique, and highly identifiable sound. In my mind Turbo = Indy. In terms of the sound, when Tony George says they're too loud, you know something is going to change. In terms of Turbo vs. NA, I think the sound is close, except that after a car whizzes by, the fading sound from the Turbo is much nicer. In a big pack of cars, I can't imagine the Turbo is any better, you're going deaf either way. I concur with Jeff, Push to Pass is not something I want back. I do want the Red Option tires though, I think they really mix things up. I am happy to hear that other manuf. are interested, and I think they can come back if "the price is right."

  11. Anonymous // June 28, 2008 1:37 AM  

    Turbos = engine failures and High Costs $$$$

  12. Anonymous // July 30, 2008 9:07 PM  

    no, because once cosworth became the sole engine provider of the champ car world series the engine failure number went down, the reason why there are almost no engine failures in IRL is because honda makes engines you can't kill, and remember when there was Honda, toyota, and chevy in IRL there were more engine failures