WAYS TO GO FASTER
Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series
race winner James Hinchcliffe says
the biggest trap a driver or team can
get into is overthinking things. The
hard work, the hard thinking needs
to happen before the car rolls off the
hauler. Fortunately for him and his
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,
there are people at Lucas Oil helping
them figure out ways to go faster.
“Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has
a long history with Lucas Oil, dating
back to the early days of the Indy
Lights program,” says Nick Snyder,
SPM engineering manager. “Lucas Oil
products are used extensively in the
gearbox and driveshaft tripod joints.
Their oils and greases have
repeatedly proven to have excellent
But there’s always more, and SPM
went to Lucas with a request for
something even better for its gearbox.
“Essentially what they want is
lower and lower viscosity, but still
something that provides sufficient
protection for their gearboxes,” says
Greg Hewgill, technical director for
Lucas Oil Products. “They’re trying
to get lower pumping losses, because
they circulate this oil almost like
you would imagine coolant in a
The product that Hewgill and his
team came up with is currently in
testing with SPM, and possibly soon
to be in the gearbox of Hinchcliffe’s
No. 5 Dallara-Honda racecar.
LUCAS OIL ISN’T JUST A NAME
ON JAMES HINCHCLIFFE’S
CAR, IT’S A PARTNER IN THE
QUEST FOR PERFORMANCE.
some of his mental
processes in a
Once strapped into
the cockpit of his
focus must be total.
of times you’ve been through there before.
Take two corners on two tracks on the
IndyCar calendar that really should have
nothing in common, yet from the cockpit
share certain visual similarities – Turns 1
at Long Beach and Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. They’re both left-hand turns
approached at high speeds, but what
follows each is radically different, as is the
setup of the car and everything else. Turn 1
at Long Beach requires massive braking;
brake for Turn 1 at Indy and the lap is toast.
“It’s funny – as different as they are, they
do have a lot of similarities,” Hinchcliffe
explains. “You have fences and walls on
either side. At Long Beach, you have a
bridge that comes across the track just past
the runoff, so it looks like you’re driving
toward this big structure, because in a
sense you are. At Indy, it’s kind of a similar
For Hinchcliffe and the Schmidt Peterson
Motorsports team, any added advantage is
welcome. Which is where Lucas Oil comes in...
feel. The track’s a bit wider, but you’re going
so much faster it feels even more narrow.
You’re driving toward a wall of grandstands
and you know at some point you’ve got to
go from this direction to that direction.
Sometimes it’s tough to get your mind
around the fact that you’re going to be
turning through this corner at this incredible
rate of speed and redirecting this car.”
It also requires faith that there’s not
another competitor spinning in front of
you on the exit. Which brings us to the fear
that has kept many aspiring drivers from
making the successful leap to professional
– the fear of crashing. It’s going to happen,
notes Hinchcliffe, who experienced a
season-ending crash in practice for last
year’s Indianapolis 500. It requires a “get
back on the horse” mentality, he says.
“The sooner you’re back in the car and
back through that corner, the quicker you
can push that out of your head,” he says.
For racecar drivers, sometimes the
biggest challenge isn’t physical, but pushing
out the stuff that doesn’t matter, that
clouds judgment and ruins concentration.
For those who can, the rewards are faster,
cleaner races and more visits to the podium.
To do that requires a bit of belief in
yourself and a lot of faith. Much of what
racecar drivers do is based on faith and
confidence – confidence that the tires will
keep their traction and you’ll be able to hit
the same braking markers and turn-in
points; faith that the other drivers are also
going to hit their marks (and not you); and
the belief that the corner exit you can’t
see is the same as it has been the dozens
“You’re driving toward a wall
of grandstands and you know
you’ve got to go from this
direction to that direction”