There has been a lot of talk lately about where we’re all going with this time attack thing and what the rules should be like. My friend Andrew Brilliant is an aerodynamicist who does work for professional race teams and helps out on a few time attack cars. Here’s his take on the current status of Time Attack:
This is Andrew Brilliant posting:
Back when TA started in Japan. Tsukuba was a good representation of a Japanese back road. In those days the cars were pretty close to street machines and their tread requirement meant you were running tires …you could use on the street if you were aggressive. Of course time went by and the cars got much faster. Tire companies made rubber that could meet those rules, but had the performance and street ability of a full slick. The relevance was lost. Nobody is ever going to street drive on a soft compound that gets destroyed in two laps, seriously. But I do think the relevance of time attack still remained, a tuner car can change their tires for the track, i could follow that reasoning.
Things evolved and changed, now its less about your street car and more about pushing the development of the import car community to the edge. What is the absolute edge of what you can do with your EVO, NSX, Eclipse, S2000? This is the place to get the ideas, to smash all the parts to the brink of destruction. Where all the manufacturers can develop the best parts to sell to the community and everyone can find a car that looks and is a lot like their own but goes very very fast.
The relevance of a place like Tsukuba doesn’t bother me and neither does the obsolescence of tread rules. But changing to a tube chassis, what is the relevance? Calling a tube chassis car with a rotary engine in it an RX7? As much as I can sing praises about the quality of the cars construction it IS a SuperGT car, except much slower. With so much smaller of a budget, I would expect that.
What is it that got TA an audience in the first place? It wasn’t having the fastest cars! Even if we all go tube chassis we are never going to touch the purpose built race cars out there, this community will never have the budget to do that. Unless we start getting play time on ABC sunday for Super Lap Battle? Lets be realistic! If we lose our relevance we lose our meaning to the people who support us. Look at the history of what happened with all the now failed import racing in the US. It got too extreme, people didn’t care anymore. Nobody wanted to flip on the TV to watch a multi million dollar domestic car manufacturer backed purpose built tube frame 2000hp cobalt annihilate their local heroes. It’s cool for a minute, then its boring.
TA is interesting because it is pure, affordable and relevant. The other thing I love about TA and why I do it, is because in these professional series we are put into these little tiny design boxes. In Indy car, people are trying to figure out whether they got an extra 0.02mph by the drivers visor not having a tear off in qualy. There is no “development” there, everything is specified. They do it to “contain costs” and keep a bigger field. But the richest teams still go the fastest, without a doubt. They ban testing and someone with money goes and buys a massive underground tunnel so nobody can know if/when they are testing.
In TA, we have wide open rule sets, top teams can be running on significantly smaller budgets than their competitors because you are free to think outside of the box. In our case, 5-10% of our competitors budgets! People love their cars, they love to dream and we can supply them something they will pay for if we are that dream. We are never going to compete toe to toe with American Le Mans or F1 for glamour, glitz or media attention. Please keep TA relevant. Lets move forward in the ways that make sense and keep the things about the past when they still make sense today.