The Verocity of V8's
Watkins Glen, NY – Racing is like rock n’ roll – the best way to experience it is up close and personal. I remember attending a Chicago concert in Philadelphia where the brass and bass resonated right through me - so exhilarating! As soon as I got home I put needle to vinyl on my favorite Chicago Transit Authority album, but the sound quality of my stereo equipment was a huge disappointment. And so it is with racing. Watching a race from home, even with the best home theatre, just doesn’t do it justice. You have to get to the track!
“The Glen” is just 75 miles south of my home in Upstate New York; this historic track is in my back yard. It was here in October of 1948 when Cameron Argetsinger organized the first sports car race in the United States after WWII. The race ran through the village of Watkins Glen, next to Watkins Glen Gorge Trail. Today, Watkins Glen International is a world-class track with historic importance that very few venues can rival. With two clockwise configurations, a short one for NASCAR and a 3.37 mile long version for sports and Indy cars, it is referred to by driving enthusiasts as a “monster track.” With significant elevation changes, drivers race downhill from the highest point of the track, a chicane (a.k.a. “Bus Stop”) at the end of the back straight, dropping down 11 stories though a right hander (Outer Loop), followed by a left hander (The Laces) to the lowest point (The Toe of the Boot). Gobs or torque are then needed to climb your way back out. I can verify that, even after thousands of laps, racing through that segment gets your attention every time.
This year’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship enduro (sponsored by Sahlen’s Packing Co. since 2003) continues a tradition of six hour racing started at The Glen in 1968 (won by Jackie Ickx and Lucien Bianchi in a Ford GT40). Arguably, to attack this monster track and launch your car up the hill through “The Esses” in excess of a buck twenty and reach 185 mph at the end of the straight--you’ll want to have a V8.
And so it is that the verocity of V8s predominates. The Cadillac DPi-V.R. engine, a dry sump, normally aspirated 6.2L V8 with 600+ restricted hp and tons of torque took the sixth consecutive P1 trophy this year for the IMSA Prototype class. Now, this is not your Daddy’s Caddy. The winning car was originally conceived by a Cadillac designer with obvious Cadillac styling cues: vertical LED lights in front, cockpit air conditioning, and a HD Liquid Cristal Display rear view “mirror” all portaged in a fully carbon fiber monocoque Dallara chassis weighing a scant 2,050 pounds (dry). This land rocket is purposed with a singular agenda – overall win of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. But wait, at just a fraction of the cost of a Le Mans 1,000 hp hybrid, this platform is a compelling proposition. I remember well the barrel chested sound of these V8s hurtling into Turn 1 at Sebring earlier this year. The roar of some V8s is so visceral, so primeval, that I find myself always turning my head to watch them go by, just one more time. At the Sahlen’s Six Hours, the Mustang Sampling Racing team of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque stood atop the podium thanks to their Cadillac DPi-V.R. V8.
Moving on to the GT Le Mans class, the winning car in this event was the BMW M6 with a turbo assisted 4.4L V8. This is the first turbocharged BMW race engine meeting GTLM/GT3 regulations. The #25 entry was piloted by Alexander Sims and Bill Auberlen of the BMW Team RLL (Rahal Letterman Lanigan). The Bimmer finished in front of the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe employing the Ford EcoBoost Turbo assisted V6. Hmm, maybe they should’ve had a V8? Rounding up the top three were Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen rocking a diehard Corvette C7.R with its venerable 5.5 L pushrod 2-valve V8. While the ‘Vette’s mill may seem rather agricultural, out of the five IMSA WeatherTech events this year Corvette Racing won handily in Sebring, Long Beach and Circuit of the Americas; they are leading the Manufacturer’s Championship. Porsche, where are you? Are the days numbered for the Flat Six?
The fly in the V8 ointment appears in the GT Daytona class, where Katherine Legge and Andy Lally brought the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 to Victory Lane using a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 NSX engine modified for FIA. They finished just a half second ahead of Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen in their Ferrari 488. Scuderia Corsa have now achieved their 5th consecutive podium finish. With a 4L, 90 degree turbo assisted four valve V8, this Maranello motor brings 490 Hp and 480 Ft-Pd of torque to the task. Another V8, this one the twin turbo 4.4-litre BMW V8, made podium in GTD with Justin Marks and Jens Klingman of Turner Motorsports Racing. Additional V8s in the GTD class are found in the AudiR8 LMS GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes AMG GT3. All of these cars, and the Porsche flat sixes, achieved at least 165 mph at the end of the back straight before braking briefly for the Bus Stop.
But after two full days at The Glen parsing through all the data and all the numbers and statistics and telemetry, after chatting with crew members and drivers and fans and friends, after sharing notes and viewing tips with other journalists, after taking videos and tons of photographs what do I remember best? I remember walking through the pits and turning my head to see and hear, just one more time - the ferocity and velocity, e.g., the verocity of those V8s.
Luis Martinez is a guest blogger for St. John’s. He is an active senior that likes to observe and write about how people work at their careers, guide their businesses, strengthen their families, stay physically fit and mentally sharp, and race their sports cars. Luis habla español. Follow Luis on Twitter @BeyondYourYears, or email Luis@HumanCapitalSP.com