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couple of engines take center stage
in our sixth annual Great Cars Issue. Two
Cosworths, to be precise – Formula 1’s
DFV V8 and Indy car racing’s DFV-derived
DFX. Their gestations are fascinating (and
contentious, in the case of the DFX), but
it’s the way each went on to shape and
change racing that bestows greatness.
Both started out as a means to end. In
the case of the DFV, Lotus main man Colin
Chapman was in need of an engine for F1’s
new-for-1966, 3-liter era, but wanted one
that would steal a march on the opposition.
Cue Cosworth’s fully-stressed jewel, bolted
to the back of the gorgeous Lotus 49 in
’ 67 (RIGHT). A decade later, Parnelli Jones
knew the venerable Offy had run its course
at Indy and chose a home-spun solution:
bolt a turbo on an F1 DFV and see if it
stays in one piece with an extra 300hp
straining to get out. Hey presto, the DFX.
Judged solely on their power-producing
abilities, both were impressive – very
impressive. But when made available to a
wider audience, they had a transformative,
democratizing effect on their respective
categories. Suddenly, F1 in the late 1960s
became a genuine meritocracy; ditto the
Indy 500 – and the fledgling CART series –
at the end of the ’70s. A DFV or DFX
couldn’t make you a winner in itself, but
for more than a decade, each provided
a level playing field from which to excel.
Speaking of level playing fields, the
Verizon IndyCar Series’ standard aero kits
(one for speedways; one for short ovals
and road/street courses) have been
getting rave reviews in readiness for their
2018 introduction. With Honda and
Chevy still able to showcase meaningful,
road car-derived tech via their engine
programs, has IndyCar found the
optimum blend of parity and relevancy?
Let’s wait and see, but if the answer’s in
the affirmative, maybe it’s a bellwether for
the likes of F1, currently looking over its
shoulder at Formula E as it tries to figure
out how much tech is enough tech?
“For more than a decade,
the Cosworth DFV and DFX
each provided a level playing
field from which to excel”
Given his focus and determination, there was never a doubt
that Sebastien Bourdais would come back from his Indy 500
qualifying crash. But after only 72 days? Marshall Pruett’s
words and Michael Levitt’s photos tell the story, page 66.
Gary Watkins, writer
of our story on
Sauber’s Mercedes-luring C9, has seen
plenty of sports car
“It always bounces
back.” he notes.