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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Bruce Wood
June 12, 2001

T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everyone. Welcome to the CART Media Teleconference. Thanks to all of you for taking the time today to join us. Our guest this afternoon is Bruce Wood, the CART Program Director for Cosworth Racing. Good afternoon, Bruce, thanks for being with us today.

BRUCE WOOD: Pleasure.

T.E. McHALE: Bruce has been with Cosworth Racing since 1987 and has been primarily involved in the manufacturers CART program since then. He was named senior designer in 1993 and has held subsequent positions as chief designer, and chief engineer prior to taking on the duties of Program Director in 1998. Bruce assisted with the design of the Cosworth XB Champ Car engine and was the chief designer of both the XD and XF power plants. The XB won both the CART Manufacturers Championship and the Driver Championship with Jacques Villeneuve in 1995; while the XF won the 2000 CARRT Manufacturers Championship. Ford Cosworth Power has claimed the past two FedEx Championship Series events with victories from Kenny Brack at Japan and Milwaukee. Heading into this weekend's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix at The Raceway on Belle Isle, Ford stands a close third in the Manufacturers Championship with 73 points. On the leads with 86 followed by Toyota with 84. The of Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, Round 7 of the FedEx Championship Series, will be televised live by ABC TV on Sunday June 17th beginning at 2:00 P.M. eastern time. Before we get started taking questions, Bruce informed me just before we went on the call that he will be missing the Detroit event this weekend but he has got a great excuse, he is getting married. So Bruce we wish you a lot of happiness and a lot of years with that.

BRUCE WOOD: Thank you very much.

T.E. McHALE: Now we will begin taking questions.

Q. Congratulations, Mr. Wood.

BRUCE WOOD: Thank you very much.

Q. I guess if you have to have an excuse that's the one to have.

BRUCE WOOD: Absolutely I figure I could only do it once in a lifetime. You have got to have a good excuse not come to Ford's hometown.

Q. We are coming up on what is probably a pivotal point in CART's history as far as the new engine comes along. What are your chief concerns from where you sit as far as what is going to happen with that engine?

BRUCE WOOD: I think the most important thing and the most critical thing for CART is to have a good vision, a good defining vision of exactly what CART wants to be in the future. I think, as engine manufacturers, we will always have a potentially -- each engine manufacturer will have a slightly different agenda of what each of us wants. And I think the most important thing is to CART not to get too embroiled in -- I don't want to say not listening to us, but not get too embroiled in listening to everything that we say because we will always have a slightly different agenda. I think the most important thing is that CART understand its own target audience for the future; understand what kind of product, what kind of engine it needs to support that audience and then kind of come back to us to an extent with this is what we think our target audience needs of an engine package and obviously that can be high tech or low tech, high revving, low revving, turbo, no turbo. So I think it is very important for CART not to be kind of dictated to by us, if you'd like, but to understand its own market where it needs to be in the future.

Q. Do you have a preference one way or another where would you like to see it go?

BRUCE WOOD: I don't really have a preference to be honest. I guess we have lots of experience with the turbo engine. And one of the things that we like to believe is good about our engine is that we think our boost control is very good, so we have got a lot of experience and history there. We certainly like to believe, rightly or wrongly, that we have got a little competitive advantage there. So in that respect you could say that it is nice to keep the turbo. Turbos have some advantages too. Obviously, there's natural noise control having the turbo in there, you don't need a muffler, etcetera. Equally I could say we have been doing turbos for a long time, the aspirated engine would be a whole new challenge for all of us. I think it is kind of speaking as an engineer it is always nice to have new challenges every so often. I guess I have worked more than a decade on the turbo engine. I'd be quite happy to see an all aspirated engine. For me personally I don't really mind which way it goes. I think for -- speaking as Ford and Cosworth, I think the normally aspirated route would be more to our advantage.

Q. We've spoken in the past, I know at the track about the turbo versus the normally aspirated. At the time you had -- Ford had preferred, I think the 1.8 liter turbo and since then it seems like that is not going to happen from what everybody is saying. It sounds like they are going to go with a normally aspirated engine. Do you feel -- how are they going to be able to control power increases over time with a normally aspirated engine without having ref limits on the engine? How do you see that happening? Right now they have had the boost that they can play with for the last ten years. So how long will this engine last? Will it last ten years?

BRUCE WOOD: I think it's going to be difficult in any formula to project ten years into the future. So I think we are probably optimistic if we can map something out that is going to go that far. But I think certainly we can map out a future for it. I think if we go the normally aspirated route then the -- really the one and only means of controlling power which is acceptable to all of us, manufacturers, certainly speaking as Ford Cosworth is acceptable to us, is our ongoing reduction in displacement. Now, we would certainly be willing to accept as long - as we kind of know it up front then that really doesn't present too much of a problem to us - we would certainly be willing to accept a formula or a category where we end at a given capacity and we agreed upfront that every two years there would be a 500 c.c. displacement reduction. That would give us -- our product life cycle is typically about four years. So certainly the XB and the XD, each of those raced for four years. We hope to get something similar out of the XF. So say we only really have a four-year cycle before you have to design a new engine anyway - technology has moved to the point that certainly in the past the previous engine has become uncompetitive. We would be certainly happy to design an engine which we felt we could take down into 250 or 500 c.c. specs over a period of years. Given then, you know, in sort of four year's time the architecture of the engine we designed today or tomorrow would be too big for the capacity, we would then design a new engine which was more appropriate for the capacity we were then at. So certainly the idea of ref limits on a car, if any of those things, is unpalatable to us as a manufacturer. That's not why we are in CART. We definitely perceive our place in CART as being sort of a high-technology arena where we can hopefully show of on what we are good at. So we definitely are not interested in am formula that has any kind of limitations. I think the only way you can make an only aspirated Formula to fit in with that design is to agree with a capacity reduction and we would be happy to do that.

Q. Toyota said they would like to see the IRL engine and the CART engine be close enough so that they can do two programs with a similar engine; not identical. When you talk about reducing displacement, would you be able to reduce the stroke of the engine and keeping the same bore size that the IRL mandates to give you a shorter stroke, maybe a higher revving engine are keep on reducing that stroke over time or would that totally change the engine design?

BRUCE WOOD: Obviously you can achieve your capacity reduction like you say with a fixed bore size or you can achieve it with a varying bore size. If you did it with a fixed bore size, it would tend to push engines speed up and up over a period of time as your stroke became shorter and shorter which may not be to any of our advantage in terms of keeping costs in check. Having said that, this comes back a little bit to what I was saying at the beginning about each manufacturer having a slightly different agenda and definitely Toyota's agenda is a little different to ours. Toyota obviously are committed to the IRL for the future; committed for a time certainly to CART, so they need to decide whether they can make the same engine. Certainly our decision was that you couldn't make one engine that was going to do both jobs. Our feeling and then Davis at Ford has said this a few times is that you can probably make kind of one and a half engines to do both these jobs, but we certainly don't believe that one engine would do both those jobs.

Q. What do you think would be the ideal displacement for CART? Would you see it as 3.5 liter as IRL is or would you see something a little bit smaller being ideal?

BRUCE WOOD: Personally I think something a little bit smaller probably. I think 3.5 liter will still give us quite a considerable power output. I would -- my feeling is that somewhere around 750 horsepower is probably a reasonable compromise. I think if we have much less than that on the road circuits we will begin to look a little slow. If we have much more than that on the ovals or super speedway anyway, then we are in danger of going faster than as maybe is considered responsible. So I would say somewhere from 700 to 750 horsepower would be a good target. Probably that's going to be -- that's going to be a better match to sort of a 3.2 liter engine than a 3.5.

Q. So you could probably use the IRL bore size and just reduce the stroke a little bit and get your 3.2?

BRUCE WOOD: Yeah, I think that would be perfectly achievable.

Q. Bruce getting married is the best thing you will ever do.

BRUCE WOOD: Very nice to hear you say that.

Q. And your wife will tell you that everyday.

BRUCE WOOD: She will be a constant reminder.

Q. You mentioned at the start, you have -- obviously o Ford and every manufacturer has got a different focus as to where CART should go and CART has to establish that. What is Ford's focus as to where CART should go as far as market demographics type of thing?

BRUCE WOOD: That's definitely I guess more a question for (inaudible) engineer, if you'd like. But basically Ford very much likes the high-tech aspect of CART. CART is a pretty young audience. Obviously Ford has the perhaps advantage over the other manufacturers in that we compete in NASCAR. NASCAR obviously has a huge audience and an audience to which a lot of cars can be sold, but it is a very, very different audience to CART. Say CART is typically a much younger audience; perhaps a slightly more affluent audience; it is definitely an audience that all of the manufacturers want to appeal to. So say we have encouraged CART a great deal to look at its own demographics and say who follows the series, say certainly our feeling is that it is young people interested in technology. So we very much want CART to retain that aspect. It's always very difficult because on the one hand we are sort of saying to them you have got retain this high-tech appeal. Obviously the race is where we get big audiences, street circuits; the more -- the bigger audience we can get, the bigger the TV coverage, et cetera, et cetera. A lot of new cities one could take up, want to have CART move to those cities and probably a lot of those might be in areas where the demographic is better than perhaps some of our, you know, Nazareth and Milwaukee, perhaps, the smaller tracks that don't get such a big audience these days. We are perhaps keen to see CART look a lot at the tracks that it goes to and the places that it goes to. Certainly keep it's technology and say on the other hand we are also always saying to CART that it must not allow itself to get out of hand in terms of cost. We certainly don't want to be competing in another Formula 1.

Q. That said, there's a rumor that pops up every once in a while recently, is Ford designing an engine for IRL?

BRUCE WOOD: No, we are not.

Q. Do you have any plans for that in the future?

BRUCE WOOD: Not at this moment.

Q. Will you be in Portland?

BRUCE WOOD: No, I am Honeymooning in Portland. (Laughs) I will be in Kenya at that point. Next race I will be out will probably be Toronto.

Q. I have been married going on 34 years so it's to be well recommended.

BRUCE WOOD: Thank you.

Q. While you may not be designing an engine for IRL, has Cosworth thought about picking you up an engine and doing what Ilmor did with the Oldsmobile and reworking it so the Ford teams can go to the Indy 500?

BRUCE WOOD: Again that's probably more a question for Ford than Cosworth to an extent. I don't think we would ever do that. Obviously there's a sort of a Ford General Motors conflict there. I think it's very unlikely that we would ever develop a General Motors product. Ilmor has obviously has done an extremely good job with it. But as I said it is very unlikely that we would ever develop a competitive product in that respect.

Q. You have already voiced, I think Ford -- I think one of your other fellows in an article written by Robin Miller voiced the opinion that you would prefer to go with a normally aspirated engine. For a lot of us we like the sound of the turbos. How would you design a normally aspirated engine where we could be happy as well?

BRUCE WOOD: I think we could. First off I guess whatever engine we come up with is almost certain to be a V8. That fits very much the kind of mold I think that all of us see as the American market. So it's very unlikely that we will design anything other than a V8. And I guess -- certainly I feel a normally aspirated V8, with a flat plain crank is a very good noise, very nice noise. Obviously it's sharper and harsher than with the turbo, but you are going to be revving up the same sort of revs so you are going to have the same kind of frequencies and harmonics in there. You just aren't going to have the sort of attenuation that you have with the turbocharger. Now I think we would probably be required to run some kind of silencing at a lot of the tracks that we currently go to, I think, and probably quite a lot of city tracks that we might go to in the future. So we would probably have to have kind of a spec muffler on the cars. If you do that, then I think muffler technology these days is actually such that you can come up with pretty much any sound you want coming out the end of it. So I think there would be a lot of tuning of the kind of raw sound that could be done with a muffler. Personally I suspect that the sound wouldn't be unpalatable to you anyway. I think -- I would say certainly I feel the sound of a normally aspirated high-revving flat plain cranked V8 say would be pretty palatable to everybody, might just be a little loud.

Q. I know the Toyotas were kind of noisy running that one-sided turbo. How is the Busch Grand National Program coming? Are you all going to go up and develop a Winston Cup engine as well?

BRUCE WOOD: We don't have any plans to enter Winston Cup at the moment. I think NASCAR is very much somewhere where we, you know, we have come into the back of a field kind of thing and we need to earn our (inaudible) there, if you'd like. So I think we certainly recognize we have more work to do in Busch before we feel we can kind of take the challenge to NASCAR and you know, there's other reasons why we may want to stick simply with Busch and not into Winston Cup in the long term. The Busch program for us with those two rolls for Cos Inc, our place in Torrance, when we -- in kind of '95 we had I think 16 cars, 16 cars worth of engines being built out of Cos Inc. so it's quite a big facility. These days we have got three manufacturers possibly four in the future then I don't think the day is ever going to exist where one manufacture has such a big slice of the pie so we very much needed other things Cos Inc. to get involved with. Busch served very good in that way. Also Ford were very keen to increase their participation in Busch. So that's kind of where we and the U.K. got involved in trying to do some development work for the Busch engine. I think probably you will see us sticking with Busch for a few years.

Q. Seems do me the deadline for getting the new engine package for next year has passed. How are you going to work either horse fire reduction or whatever for the current engine for next year?

BRUCE WOOD: I am sure that we are going to go to 34 inches of boost next year.

Q. Is that going to do as much as we think it is or are you all going to be able to get all that horsepower to back like you did going up to 37?

BRUCE WOOD: Well, I guess I would be lying if I said we weren't hoping to get a good chunk of it back. I think there's no question I think the next couple of years is going to be a something of a hiatus. I think the -- currently then CART's stability rule basically states that there won't be an engine change until 2004. And that's pretty much supported -- well certainly that's supported by news terms of what we could do logistics-wise. Obviously Cosworth here in the U.K. also supports the Jaguar Formula 1 Program and the Rally Championship so our facilities here aren't exclusively for the use of CART. We have to kind of factor that in when we look at how and when we can do a project. So for us 2004 is really the first date we could sensibly be there. That also fits in with CART's own rule book. I think you know, one of the things that maybe CART has been accused of in the past is messing with its rule book too much and just changing things a bit of a shot in the dark. So I think it is pretty important that they stick to that. Having said that then certainly the year after next I think, you know, it does become progressively more difficult to -- certainly we got back more than we expected this year. I think in that respect again this year was perhaps atypical so I suspect next year probably won't be such a big problem. I think the year after maybe when we have had a whole year of running 34 inches and hopefully we have really got our arms around the thing, then I suspect 2003 might be the here at which we are faced with more power than we really want. What we do at that point it's difficult to say. Probably all of us as manufacturers could accommodate at least theoretically a small reduction in capacity and keep most of the same hardware. Maybe to 2.2 or 2.3 something of that sort. But certainly I know amongst the other manufacturers that would be pretty unpopular and we are not exactly rushing into that open arms...(Laughs) I think, you know, it is kind of important that, if you like, everybody takes a share of this and the engines perhaps an easy place to focus and I am not saying by any means that we shouldn't focus on taking out engine power. I think we probably should. But of course, there are plenty of other means of slowing the cars down. Formula 1 obviously has got grooved tires, all sorts of aerodynamic things that could be done. And if they are done over a 12-month period then I think it's perfectly safe to change the aerodynamics of the car. So I think maybe for 2003 the emphasis should perhaps be on the chassis and tire areas to try and keep performance in check.

Q. Following up, inseason testing, is that something you guys would like to see back?

BRUCE WOOD: I think for -- I mean, for the good of the sport I think it was probably a good move to get rid of inseason testing. Plenty of days where I could think if only we had a day's testing, (laughs), you know, we'd love it. But I think for the overall good of the sport it's a good thing. It definitely does save some money. It saves, I think very importantly, the wear and tear on the people. Certainly our guys travelling to and from the U.K., you know, it would often be in the past that they would leave a race Sunday night and have to go to Mid-Ohio for a test on Tuesday or whatever. Never get back to the U.K.. So with a 22-race schedule I think you know, lots of people have observed that the wear and tear on the people was becoming huge. So I think getting rid of inseason testing has certainly helped that. From the fans' point of view, spectators' point of view, well, it doesn't add anything to the show. Whereas at least now we have a whole day of on-track activities on a Friday. Maybe we can boost interest in attendance on a Friday day. I think there's more work to be done, but overall, yeah, I think getting rid of inseason testing was a good thing.

Q. You had mentioned that the engine would be pretty high revving at 3.2 liter, normally aspirated. About how high do you think it would ref to approximately?

BRUCE WOOD: I would say probably not far short of where we are these days to be honest. I'd say somewhere around 15,000 perhaps a little less than that, 14 and a half. I don't think it would be -- certainly would be where we were only a couple of years ago. It wouldn't be anywhere near the IRL kind of mandated 10,750 or -- I think it is 10,750 in IRL these days. So it would certainly be in my eyes a high revving engine.

Q. Given that, would it at all sound like a Formula 1 engine of the past maybe?

BRUCE WOOD: It would sound I think very much like a Formula 1 engine as the kind of early 90s, late 80s, I guess, before F-I engines went to V10. Yeah, I'd say it would sound very much like that.

Q. A philosophical question. I had talked to another engineer about this, he was of the opinion that all the manufacturers spend a lot of money and Formula 1 and CART and some at IRL. Would it have made sense to have all engine manufacturers get together and say let us do a one-base platform engine that we can use, you know, in different series, maybe, one being a little more high tech than the other; would that element be at all feasible? I know there's a lot of crying right now that manufacturers are crying about the costs in Formula 1 being astronomical. Would it have made some sense to have gotten together and try to come up with some kind of common formula to share?

BRUCE WOOD: Philosophically I think it probably would. In reality I guess having been a party to the current discussions and indeed those discussions over the last four, five years of where CART should go, and having seen the four of us manufacturers, you know, genuinely with a will try and bring the cost down and try and bring some stability, but equally all with our own vested interest, I have seen how difficult that is, I guess, so I could kind of picture if you throw in another five to ten manufacturers into that it would probably be impossible to get any kind of agreement. But I think philosophically, yeah, we probably could have saved some money, but it's very difficult. The money saving thing is, as I said before, again as I said before I think the money is driven very much by the competition and not so much by the rule. Potentially we could all be kind of racing lawn mowers and we could all spend fantastic amounts of money on them because as long as you have within CART companies like Ford, Honda and Toyota all wanting to beat each other, it's always going to be an arena where you can spend a lot of money. But philosophically, yeah, it would be a nice idea.

Q. I have heard some of the CART drivers when they have driven the IRL cars mention that the cars were kind of heavy in the back and they handle differently . The weight of the current engine with the turbocharger, how does that overall weight compare to the IRL which has a mandated minimum weight engine? If CART tried to come up with a spec that was somewhat similar to the IRL and therefore the engine blocked, the over all dimensions of the block would be the same, the weight would be the same, how much different is there in weight?

BRUCE WOOD: I would say there isn't that much to be honest. Undoubtedly, a current day -- I am not sure what the current IRL weight limit is, I must say, but I do know what we have talked about for the future kind of thing and that really isn't too far way from current CART engine and if you added in the weight of the turbo which obviously is a fairly hefty piece, a business cast iron turbine housing, then I don't think that would be much different. I think any -- I suspect any handling differences in the car are much less to do with the engine weight than distribution and much more to do with the pound force distribution, the pressure on the floor. It is kind of a guessing a little bit there. But I'd be kind of surprised if really -- certainly I have heard drivers say that it is a very different feel to an IRL car to a CART car. I'd be surprised if much of that came from a weight distribution.

Q. The IRL transmission sits out back behind the --


Q. -- the rear wheels; whereas the Champ Car transmission sits in front.


Q. Would the two series be able to have a similar engine with the transmissions being so different? Would that matter at all as far as mating up the pieces?

BRUCE WOOD: I don't believe so. Again, I have sort of only seen -- I have seen the current Aurora at various shows and certainly the back of it doesn't look significantly any different to the back of our engine which doesn't look significantly different to the back of the Honda or Toyota. So I don't think that would be a problem for the engine manufacturers.

Q. Is Cosworth looking for any new adventures? Are they eyeing another series or another project? Looking at anything new?

BRUCE WOOD: I guess we always -- we always like to kind of keep our ear to the ground. Ford obviously very much controls what we will or won't do. And obviously a very big part of our program is the Jaguar Formula 1 program. So Ford certainly have a kind of controlling interest there, you know, if we don't have, if you like, free reign to go off and investigate series that might in any way conflict with that or might in any way use up some of the resource that we need for that program. Having said that then say Ford is always interested in another racing opportunities. Racing is a very big part of Ford's activity so, yeah, they are always looking for other projects and if there is something that tailored well with our capacity at any given time and our capacities then we would perhaps pursue that.

Q. Are you all working on an Indy Lights engine by any chance? Have you had any interest in an engine package for that series?

BRUCE WOOD: We have at times discussed it in the past though, I think probably Indy Lights have discussed with several manufacturers whether we would have an interest. That's something that suddenly could be of interest to us. We are not doing anything work on an engine at the moment. That certainly isn't to say that we never would. Certainly that is a good case in point where obviously that's the kind of engine that we have got lot of good experience off. We think we could do a good job for Indy Lights depending a little bit where its future is heading. It is a good stepping stone for drivers into CART. One of the problems that Ford has always had is that typically drivers entering CART we have not been very good at, if you like, signing them up to having an affiliation to us. If you look at Honda they have always been very good at that. You take de Ferran as an example. He always has been a Honda driver and probably always will be. So if we had a position in Indy Lights then that might help us in that respect. So we have certainly discussed it. We have looked at it. Certainly not ruling out the possibility that we might in the future.

Q. If you did a program like that in the future would you see that an offspring of that or a spinoff of that would be an engine that might be closer to an IRL spec engine?

BRUCE WOOD: I think that would be pretty -- I mean, possibly Indy Lights is -- going back to a previous gentleman's question of would it be possible or would it philosophically have been a good thing, years ago for all the major series to say this is the engine that we are going to base everything on. There's a lot of series out there that use a relatively large capacity normally aspirated V8. One of them certainly is German Touring car, a lot of sports car applications are normally aspirated V8s. As you say Indy Lights would be another one. If there was some possibility of sharing the cost of an engine over several different series that would be attractive to us. Would that include sort of something that we could share across to IRL? Possibly -- we don't have any plans to go to IRL or go and do the 500, but say -- we'd obviously be foolish if we didn't continue to reevaluate on an annual basis where we should be positioned and whether there is any extra opportunity for us.

Q. I did find the specs on the new IRL engine. They are saying here it's 295 pounds without -- dry, without headers and without the ECU all that. So given that it is 295 pounds minimum weight how would that compare to the current CART engine with turbo?

BRUCE WOOD: I would say that really isn't too far off actually, 295. I must admit -- that's the minimum weight? You surprised me.

Q. It was 320. They dropped it to 295.

BRUCE WOOD: Oh, okay. Kind of wondered whether the Aurora is actually at that. I would say that's probably within certainly 10% of the weight of the CART engine.

Q. They also are saying that they are going to allow two injectors per cylinder. Is that what is currently used on the CART Champ Cars and if not, where does that throw into the equation? What does that do for you as an engineer?

BRUCE WOOD: The number in position -- again for a technical challenge, then we don't want any real control of the number or the position of the injectors. Obviously within CART there's no control over that. I'd be very surprised if anybody in CART didn't already use two injectors per cylinder with methanol, the air fuel ratio is such that you require an awful lot of fuel and it is just physically difficult to get a single injector that will flow that much fuel, so I suspect everybody has -- as I say that is the kind of rule that we'd like to see relatively free. I think as you say the IRL have gone from one to two injectors. Probably for somebody like Toyota entering the series, in 2003, that will make their life a little easier. Make everybody's life a little easier because it is just simply physically difficult to get a single injector to flow that much fuel.

T.E. McHALE: Thanks, we will wrap it up for this afternoon. Thank you Bruce Wood for joining us today. Bruce, congratulations again on your impending nuptials. We will look forward to meeting you in Toronto and thanks for being with us this afternoon.

BRUCE WOOD: Pleasure.

T.E. McHALE: Thanks to all of you who took the time to join us this afternoon. We will talk to you next week.

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