I’ve Got A Question

One goal I had last weekend while at the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, was to get an answer to a question I’ve had ever since the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach the previous week. I failed.

I asked several media types this question and got varying responses. Most responses involved scratching one’s chin pensively and saying “Hmm…I don’t know, that’s a good question. Others said “Yes!” and others answered with an emphatic “No!” I won’t identify who they were for two reasons; (a) I don’t want to come across as name-dropping because you would recognize most of the people I asked and (b) I don’t want to embarrass anyone if we finally find out the real answer. I am suspecting that one that I ate lunch with on Saturday that said “Yes!” is correct. If he is, by chance, reading this; he knows who he is.

So I will throw it out to you. I’ve often said that I may not have the largest readership in the IndyCar blogosphere, but I’ve got the smartest. So here is the scenario and subsequent question…

On Lap 4 of Long Beach, Ryan Hunter-Reay came into the pits to have his front-wing replaced. He had been carrying a nose-cam throughout the weekend. When the stop was complete, Paul Tracy commented from the booth that “…it’s a much lengthier process now with the nose camera, changing these noses out. They used to be able to do it in a few seconds. Now there’s some camera equipment to disconnect and reconnect, so you definitely don’t want to have that happen to you under green”.

My question is…If what Tracy said is true, why would anyone opt to carry a nose-cam? Doesn’t this put them at a distinct disadvantage if it takes a few seconds longer to change a front-wing with a nose-cam than one without one?

One person said that all the non-nose-cam cars carry ballast in the nose to compensate for the added weight of an actual nose-cam. OK, but what about the added time? On Hunter-Reay’s pit stop, you can clearly see that something is disconnected and re-connected.

Another person said that when the nose with a nose-cam is replaced, the replacement does not carry a nose-cam. To be honest, I can’t remember if we saw any nose-cam shots from Hunter-Reay after Lap 4 or not.

Someone else reminded me that the nose-cones are now tethered following the Justin Wilson fatality at Pocono in 2015. Maybe that is what we see being disconnected and reconnected.

One other person said they thought that perhaps the nose-cam was wireless, but they weren’t sure.

It would surprise me if IndyCar had a system in place that would put a driver at a disadvantage for carrying something to benefit the fans. If a nose-cam carries cables or wiring that require disconnecting and reconnecting, I would think that all cars would carry dummy cables that required the same – just to create an even playing field.

Back in the early nineties when only a few cars carried in-car cameras, they were mounted on the side of the car, just behind the driver’s head and to the right. They were wing-shaped and stuck out about three inches. But the cars that weren’t carrying cameras had nothing. I always thought that it had to produce some slight drag, but I figured it must not be significant or the cars wouldn’t carry them.

Sometime in the early days of the IRL, it became standard for every car to have dummy camera pods that were the same size, shape and weight as real cameras. They were affixed to the top of the air-box and on the rear-wing where the actual cameras would be. Seeing the cars in person this past weekend, I noticed that every nose-cone has an impression in the nose where the camera would go.

That’s why I would be surprised if there was no dummy cable or something that would make all front-wing changes equal. Otherwise, why would anyone agree to carry them?

If anyone out there knows the answer to this I’d like to hear it. Many of you are a lot more in tune with the rules and regulations than I am. Based on the variety of answers and opinions I got on this last weekend, I know that somebody gave me the right answer. I just don’t know which one.

George Phillips

10 Responses to “I’ve Got A Question”

  1. S0CSeven Says:

    It’s $$$$$$$. Car owners are paid by the broadcaster to carry the cameras. If crap happens and you need to change the camera equipment, you either hook up the camera again or don’t get paid.

    • #nailedit. Either the broadcaster pays of the sponsor kicks out to sponsor the nose cam.

      • billytheskink Says:

        Indeed. Pretty much every on-board camera is the “(sponsor name) on-board” and introduced as such in sequence during the parade lap.

        Alan Bestwick has a good voice for running through the roll of on-boards and their sponsors. I cannot hear anyone say “Verizon on-board” without hearing his voice, though I admit that very few other people have said those words to me.

  2. Just get rid of the stupid thing, one time to show the track in practice and out with it. Also all the in-car cameras are way,way over used, I like to see the pass where I can see both cars not a panoramic view of the side of a car, I want to watch the race not a director showing off his technical play toys.

    • BrandonWright77 Says:

      I personally feel the opposite, the two new camera views this season (nose/tail) are just as good improvements as the new body kit. Watching from those cameras makes the cars look hella fast and impressive and scary. This is the kind of thing that gets a channel surfer to pause to see what kind of craziness is going on here and then they get hooked and tune into the next race.

    • ed emmitt Says:

      I totally agree with you. I have said to myself just show the race.

  3. Marc vanNiekerk Says:

    I asked this question on Jon Beekhuis earlier in the season and his response was “It is just a quick disconnect cable, and teams say it’s no problem. Spare nose may not have a camera, so no worries there…”

  4. Ron Ford Says:

    TK has been allowed to reduce his ballast for obvious reasons.

  5. Pretty sure that all teams carry this same connector even if they don’t have an active nose cam. This way the additional time is the same for everyone. Its the same way there have been/are camera pods on the roll hoop even if there are not active cameras in there.

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