“THE PROBLEM IS WHEN YOU HAVE
A CRASHED CAR AFTER INDY - LAST
YEAR WE DIDN’T HAVE A BACK-UP”
t’s stating the obvious to say that no
team wants to crash at Indy. But Dale
Many of the full-time IndyCar teams will
prepare separate cars for the Indy/Detroit
double-header, but for Coyne’s small, yet
effective group, the road to “Motor City”
begins with a busy couple of days rebuilding
A RACE TO GO RACING |
(TOP) Dale Coyne
Racing hit the
“refresh” button over
the winter, welcoming
Sebastien Bourdais –
who previously raced
with the team in 2011
– and Indy Lights
champ Ed Jones.
One thing that won’t
change? The familar
sight of Dale Coyne
himself standing on
the pitwall (ABOVE).
For Dale Coyne Racing, a new race begins when the checkers wave at Indy.
Dale Coyne Racing is
one of IndyCar’s
smaller teams, but it
knows its way to
Victory Lane. It now
has four race wins to
its credit, two courtesy
of the late Justin Wilson.
The Brit opened
the team’s account at
Watkins Glen in 2009,
and then added
at Texas Motor
Speedway in 2012.
both of Coyne’s other
wins came during
Mike Conway in
Detroit, 2013, and
Carlos Huertas in
“If we have our act together we’ll have
actually started building the Detroit shock
absorbers at some point during the
second week at Indianapolis,” says Coyne
engineer Craig Hampson. “And if we’re
not in a panic, we would already be taking
what would be spares or options for Indy
and starting to convert them to
But the work doesn’t stop there. The
transmission needs to be completely
rebuilt; a task that involves switching the
spool for a differential, and installing a
vastly different set of gear ratios.
“The big teams will have gearboxes
that they use only for Indianapolis, so
they’ll take the entire gearbox off the car
and then put a road course-spec gearbox
on,” says Hampson. “They’ll also have
custom builds on their wheel bearings.
We don’t have a lot of spare pieces, so
we have to rebuild the wheel bearings
By Monday night, the car has been
stripped more or less bare; by early
Wednesday, it’s back together again – just
in time to make the 300-mile drive to
Detroit that same day. Thursday is spent
getting set up in the Belle Isle paddock.
The team takes a moment to catch its
breath…and then watches its cars roll
out for first practice on Friday.
Converting cars from speedway to road-course spec in the IMS
garages didn’t hurt Dale Coyne Racing last year. Conor Daly’s
second-place in Detroit (RIGHT) was its best result of 2016.
(ABOVE) Justin Wilson
celebrates a Texas-
sized win in 2012.
the cars that just finished the “500.” And
those days become all the more intense if
their Indy outing ended in the wall.
“The problem is when you come out of
Indy with a crashed car,” Coyne says. “You
may have a back-up car, but if you look at
last year, we ran four cars at Indy so we
didn’t have one. Well I guess we did,
Even if the team makes it through Indy
with its primary cars in decent shape, a
couple of busy days lie ahead. Coyne’s
team is based in Chicago, so it remains
camped at the Speedway for three days to
convert the cars into street-course spec.
Few parts of the racecar remain
untouched. The aero pieces are different,
including the underwing; the rockers are
changed; the shims and steering arms
used to create oval-friendly, left-side
positive camber are taken out, and the
shocks are swapped over. The latter is
one of the few jobs that the team can
get a head start on.