How Champ Cars Work

Champ Cars have carbon fiber bodies, 900-horsepower engines and top speeds of over 230 mph!
Champ Cars have carbon fiber bodies, 900-horsepower engines and top speeds of over 230 mph!

Champ Car racing is one of the most technologically advanced sports in the world today. And, other than space shuttles and jet fighters, Champ Cars are the most sophisticated vehicles that we see in common use.

Their carbon fiber bodies, incredible engines, advanced aerodynamics and intelligent electronics make each car a high-speed research lab. Because a Champ Car runs at speeds up to 240 mph, the driver experiences G-forces and copes with incoming data so quickly that it makes Champ Car driving one of the most demanding professions in the sporting world.

Have you ever wished you could go behind the scenes and really understand how Champ Car racing works? Where do these incredible cars and engines come from? How do the drivers become drivers, and how do they train for each race? Who is on the team, and who works on these cars before and during each race? What is happening in the pits on race day?

To answer questions like these and really understand how a complete Champ Car team works, we will learn about the car, the driver and the people that make up the Motorola PacWest Racing Team. In this article, you'll see everything that makes a Champ Car work through the eyes of the Motorola PacWest Racing Team.

Champ Car racing is a unique sport. It features exotic, high-speed, open-wheel cars racing both in the United States and around the world. The CART program is a combination of Formula 1-style and oval track racing on four very different types of tracks:

  • Short ovals - oval tracks less than 2 miles long
  • Super speedways - oval tracks 2 miles or longer
  • Street courses - courses laid out on city streets
  • Road courses - courses with much of the feel of a street course (lots of tight turns and short straight-aways), but running on special closed tracks rather than on city streets

The type of track changes from race to race -- Champ Car racing is an incredibly diverse sport.

This level of diversity makes a season of Champ Car racing incredibly exciting. The racing teams have to create cars that are flexible enough to run under all of these different conditions. The teams have to completely revise the aerodynamic package, the suspension settings, and lots of other parameters on their cars for each race, and the drivers have to be extremely agile to handle all of the different conditions they face. No two races are alike in Champ Car racing.

Approximately 25 cars and drivers -- like the Motorola PacWest Racing Team's number 18 car driven by Mark Blundell -- compete in the 20 Champ Car races that make up a season.

The sanctioning body for Champ Car racing is CART, or Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.. CART is the governing body for the sport, setting the rules that the teams have to follow (see the CART Web site for the complete rule book), and it also provides the race officials who oversee each event.

See the CART Web site for complete details, television schedules and race times.

The Motorola PacWest Racing Team fields car number 18 -- Mark Blundell's Motorola/Mercedes-Benz car. Mark Blundell is the driver. Motorola is the title sponsor for the car. Mercedes-Benz provides the engine. Reynard provides the chassis and the tires come from Firestone.