Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sound of Music

If you've read this blog for a while you'll know that I'm a big proponent of making every aspect of the Indy Racing League as fan friendly as possible, and that I've gone off on more than one occasion about how obnoxious and un-fan-friendly the sound of the Indy Lights cars have been over the past years with their NASCAR/missing-muffler type sound that is so loud and deafening that really no fan can watch them without some sort of sound canceling headphones or earplugs. Its a real shame because the racing in Indy Lights has been nothing but great over the years. Since surely no one can carry a conversation during a Lights race without sign language, I and many others have felt it was a big hindrance to Indy Lights attendance, especially people with children.

Earlier this month we got the great news that Honda and the IRL would finally be moving forward with the new sound dampening mufflers for the main Indy Car Series, which is great because while someone like me is actually ok with the mian guys, it was still close enough to the range that some people did still complain.

However we never got any word on anything to be done for the Indy Lights cars, which by far had a much bigger problem. With the ICS most could actually go without earplugs and manage a conversation while with FIL you had no choice but to plug the ears unless you wanted to risk serious hearing damage.

Well race-day race fans got some more good news from the IRL today:

Firestone Indy Lights modify engine for 2009:
Firestone Indy Lights engines will undergo a modification for 2009. The 90-degree crankshaft used in the engines since the series' inception in 2002 has been changed to a 180-degree crankshaft.

"We primarily made the change to make the car sound more like they have single-seater racing engines," said Roger Bailey, executive director of Firestone Indy Lights. "The change will help the car's performance as well. It doesn't really change the horsepower, but the drivers will see an improvement in the power-band in the mid-range. And that will help our cars get off the corner better."

"From the outward appearance, there won't be any changes to the motor," said Speedway Engine Development's Jeff Gordon, Firestone Indy Lights program manager. "The noticeable difference is the sound the engine makes is more similar to the IndyCar Series engine.

We'll have to wait and see exactly what audible difference this makes but I can tell you any move in the lower decible direction is a good one and hopefully it'll help start to help improve Indy Lights attendance.

Photos from by Dana Garrett and Steve Snoddy


Brian McKay said...

Attending races since 1985, I have worn earplugs since the second race. I have passed-out earplugs to so many wincing, obviously-uncomfortable kids whose parents were too obtuse to provide hearing protection.

In Saint Petersburg, Bright House Networks issues to race attendee who puts out a hand, bright yellow, Bright House-labeled earplug cases.

I suggest that Honda or Firestone or someone issue free children's-size earplugs to all kids coming through the gates at all races in a season races!

Allen Wedge said...

that is a great idea. I used to work rock concerts and we always made free earplugs available and people were always thankful, the option should be there, because, just like concerts, some people are new and would never think of it, plus people can always forget.

I brought my nephews out to Nashville this past year and even with earplugs they were complaining about Lights cars and we actually had to take them back to the kids fun zone until they were over, but they absolutely loved the ICS partly because in their words "these guys aren't loud."