MADISON, Ill. – When race weekend arrives for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 arrives August 23 and 24, race teams will put the best cars they can on the track at World Wide Technology Raceway. But if they try to cheat, chances are they'll get caught.
It’s often been said by many in sports, including racing, "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying!"
But with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 approaching, the IndyCar Series has a team of experts to make sure everybody plays fair.
“I'm the (car) cop!” said Kevin ‘Rocket’ Blanch, technical director for the IndyCar Series.
Blanch and his team highly trained team of inspectors enforce regulations and try to maintain the competitive balance between the teams and manufacturers.
“I have a little saying when I come through the gates: I don't have to go home and sleep with you, so inside here I do my job, pay my bills, that's how I feed my family,” he said.
Blanch said the race teams understand if they try to cheat or cut a corner to make their car faster, they know what's coming their way. That could include fines, loss of driver points, or a suspension.
“Cars that run 200 miles per hour, a tenth of one degree can make a difference,” Blanch said. “We'll run each car through and check that rear wing, height, check side pot height, which is where down forces are created.”
These inspectors will conduct five inspections, which include pre-qualifying, post-qualifying, pre-race, post-race, and driver safety equipment. The inspection includes checks on safety features, the fuel cell, height, weight, width, and the chassis underwing.
“Our cars, as you see, are pretty open, not like a stock car where you can hide it,” Blanch said. “We can walk right up and take off four body panels and the complete car is exposed.”
When the IndyCar Series shows up for the Bommarito 500, they will be doing more checks and keeping a closer eye. That's because of the unique oval track at World Wide Technology Raceway.
“Most ovals we do a lot more inspecting than on a road course because the aerodynamics make such a difference at an oval, like Texas or Gateway or St. Louis,” Blanch said.
On the first day of any given race week, Blanch said teams will push the limits on the rules because there is not a lot at stake at that time. He said teams will try anything to get an advantage.
One tactic Blanch often sees – teams trying to get their underwing as low as they can.
“We understand that and know that makes a huge difference, so they'll slowly bring it back where it needs to be by qualifying,” he said.
With the unique job Blanch has, you might think he would get upset that teams try to gain an advantage by bending the rules. But it’s the opposite. Blanch said he understands their mindset and that he ultimately trusts his team of experienced inspectors.
“The race team’s job is to push the limits. Mine is to stop it.”