When automotive fanatics get collectively in teams, it’s inevitable that the bench racing hypotheticals will begin flying. If Betty White was driving a Viper, do you suppose you would beat her in a race driving your Toyota Celica? Would Michael Schumacher in his prime beat Fangio in the event that they had been each driving the identical automotive? How far again would it’s a must to go to your race automotive to be quick sufficient to qualify for the Indy 500? That final one has been my favourite bench race question for over a decade, and it all the time will get my thoughts working.
A buddy’s father as soon as advised me he had a C2-generation Corvette “with an experimental Can Am motor” that turned a lap at Indy “quick sufficient for pole” that yr. It’s whole bullshit, and undoubtedly not attainable, as a result of Indy roadsters had been fairly rattling quick by the mid-1960s, and Corvettes, uh, weren’t. However might a C8 Corvette qualify for the 1966 Indy 500? Yeah, I guess it might.
With advances in aerodynamics, tires, and reliability, fashionable street vehicles are quicker than ever earlier than, and even quicker than essentially the most bonkers racing specials of yesteryear. I’ll most likely find yourself doing extra of those sooner or later, however figured I might begin with a fairly easy one. If you happen to purchased one in every of Mazda’s $60,000 MX-5 Cup race vehicles, primarily based on the usual Miata drivetrain and bodywork, what’s essentially the most fashionable Indianapolis 500 Mile Race that you would win outright? And what number of years later would you be kicked out on bump day?
Let’s do some math!
Initially, let’s decide what an MX-5 Cup automotive can do. These vehicles truly raced at Indianapolis in 2017, however the collection used the street course, so the info from that race isn’t significantly helpful. To determine our MX-5 Cup’s prime pace, let’s look to the current race at Daytona Worldwide Speedway. Under is an onboard video from Gresham Wagner’s race one victory. The automotive’s information recorder exhibits a most pace of 146-ish miles per hour for the MX-5 Cup, however that’s operating in a pack within the draft, so let’s say our max pace for solo qualifying at Indy can be round 140 miles per hour.
Given the power to set the automotive up accurately for the 4 left-hand turns on the brickyard, the suitable tires to final a full stint at pace, and we’ll enable just a little little bit of downforce if crucial, I wouldn’t doubt that an MX-5 Cup might go flat out at Indy for the complete lap, so we’ll say our theoretical common qualifying pace over three flying laps can be precisely 140.zero miles per hour.
The final yr that our theoretical MX-5 Cup would qualify for pole on the Indy 500 is 1955, matching polesitter Jerry Hoyt’s 140.045 pole. Okay, so we’re on pole, however do we’ve got a shot at successful?
Again then Indy roadsters wanted to pit for gasoline 3 times within the 500 mile race, which means they might go 125 miles, kind of, on a full tank. An MX-5’s gasoline tank is 11.9 gallons, which means we’d have to realize not less than 10.5 miles per gallon at V-max. It isn’t essentially RPM that determines gasoline consumption, a lot as it’s load, and a Miata goes to be underneath severe load at 140 miles per hour. It’s rated at 30 MPG mixed, so I believe it might probably go 125 miles on a tank.
Even nonetheless, we’ll be conservative and say the MX-5 wants an extra cease over an Indy Roadster to finish the 500. 4 stops in 500 miles. In these days Indy pit stops noticed the automotive stationary for round 25 seconds every cease, which might be a bit longer than a well-oiled machine operating a gasoline dump and tire change on the Miata. I’m going to say that the MX-5 might brake from pace faster than the Roadster, and speed up again to V-max faster than the long-gear Roadsters might, so total time misplaced within the pits goes to be about equal for the Miata and the rivals at Indy. It washes out, pit stops received’t be the factor that kills our Miata’s win.
Bob Sweikert (above) received the 1955 Indy 500 in his pink Zink particular with a mean pace of 128.209 miles per hour. Given 4 stops at 20 seconds every, plus quicker acceleration and braking, we’ll spend about 120 seconds of the race not operating flat out. Stick it in prime gear and put your foot to the ground, you’ll be caught at 140.zero miles per hour for 100 mile stints. And if you happen to catch a draft, you would possibly even run quicker than that. I believe we’re in with a shot to win the 1955 Indy 500 from pole place in a 2024 Mazda MX-5 Cup automotive.
Our ending time, after pit stops, assuming nothing went mistaken, can be three hours, 36 minutes, and 12 seconds. Sweikert’s successful time in 1955 was three hours, 53 minutes, and 24 seconds. We received by 17 minutes!
So with a qualifying pace of 140 miles per hour, and a race common pace of 138.76 miles per hour, we will look to historical past to find out a number of issues.
The final Indy 500 we might qualify on pole for was 1955.
The final Indy 500 we might win primarily based on our common time to complete was 1959.
Although we would come out on prime in a 1960 photograph end towards Jim Rathmann’s Ken-Paul Particular, which averaged 138.767 miles per hour within the race, we wouldn’t have run a quick sufficient qualifying lap to make it into the large present. The slowest qualifier in 1960 was Jim McWithey’s Epperly-Offenhauser, which ran a 140.37 MPH in qualifying, and retired on lap 60 with brake failure.
Clearly that is all in enjoyable, and there are 100 thousand completely different variables that must go precisely our means to ensure that this to occur. However, if you happen to ever get the chance to journey to 1959, and you’ll deliver a 2024 Mazda MX-5 Cup with you, attempt to win the Indy 500. You simply would possibly.
Now I’m curious if a brand new Porsche GT3 Cup might beat the 1970 Porsche 917 to win Le Mans… That’s a query for another time.