Further to the following: > Oval racing is more suitable for engines that have high horsepower but > poor throttle response. A turbine car almost won one year, but there > are no prizes granted for almost winning a race. ... the above passage might make you think that the car did not win because of the shortcomings of the turbine engine. But that's apparently not true at all. Here's this bit about the history of this straight-turbine-powered Indy car which "almost won", which I just saw today at <http://8w.forix.com/altpower-turbines.html>. As you can see from the story, the car would have won by almost a whole LAP if a bearing in the gear-casing - *nota bene*, it had nothing to do with the power-plant! - had not failed: "The Swooshmobile had been running away with the race when a five-dollar bearing in the gearcasing failed, at a point where Parnelli had almost a lap in hand on his nearest rival, AJ Foyt, and that was after spinning earlier in the race and having to claw his way back through the field." Here's the whole story: [QUOTE] STP-Paxton Indycar The STP-Paxton turbine car that produced a heartbreaking near miss at the 1967 Indy 500 is the brainchild of Italian American Andy Granatelli, a racing nut who combined engineering vision with great business acumen. As a chief tester and engineer for Studebaker, Granatelli had always been a speed addict, having set over 400 land speed records. Among his engine designs are those of the Chrysler 300, the Cadillac Eldorado and the famous Raymond Loewy-designed Studebaker Avanti series. He then topped those achievements by stepping into the racing arena, buying out Lew Welchs legendary Novi company and increasing its engines power output from 450 to 837hp. His business skills are best illustrated by the way he sold his supercharger business to Studebaker, bought them out of a run-down company called Chemical Compounds, changed its name to Studebaker Test Products (STP) and went racing with the STP Oil Treatment brand to gain big lashes of free publicity. From the acquisition in 1963 to the height of the brands fame less than a decade later, Granatelli built the company from seven to over 2000 employees. In 1974 he pocketed the money to purchase and grow another little-known company called Tune-Up Masters, to sell it again at astronomical value. Blatant self-advertising and the hard sell were in all cases responsible. As an engineering enthusiast, having already brought Ferguson Formula four-wheel drive to Indy, Granatelli was quick to see the unfair advantage of a turbine engine matched with 4WD. Thus the STP-Paxton turbine car was born, with an FF 4WD system coupled to a reduction gear system supplied by STPs Paxton division. It was built completely in-house by the Granatelli brothers, keeping it a secret from a competition as long as they could. As Granatelli told during an Indianapolis Legends interview in 2000: Every single thing on the car except the wheels and the turbine engine was built in-house. Everything. And the reason we built everything in-house was because we didn't want to go to any outside vendor to have them know that we were building a special race car. And when we built the car, it was built completely in the rules, completely in specifications. Its engine was a Canadian Pratt & Whitney ST6B-62 rated at 550bhp and it was mounted to the side of the car! In all aspects, the STP-Paxton shaped instant controversy. With its side-by-side construction it looked awkward but still the drivers weight counterbalanced the lightweight turbine. It was also quiet hence the nickname of Silent Sam and it was fast. Very fast. Soon the competition was complaining with USAC, which had already reduced the cars turbine inlet area to 23,99 sq in. And there was more bollocking going on. Granatelli still gets mad thinking back to the cars Indy debut: We were told for example that the flap on the back of the car was distracting the other drivers. Bologna! It never distracted anybody. But they banned that first thing off the bat. With a piston engine, you take your foot off the gas, it's still through the crankshaft, but the compression slows the car down. But with the turbine car, you take your foot off the gas, and it's like putting the car in neutral. You keep going. So we needed something more in brakes. So we built a flap on the back of the car. When you stepped on the brakes, the flap would go up like an aircraft and slow the car down. Well, the drivers complained about that, not because it was too distracting, but to complain. The drivers also complained there was terrific heat behind the car, that their cars were overheating and it was blinding them. They were choking. They couldn't see where they were going from the heat. That's all bologna and I'll tell you why. Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and I were following the car around when Johnny Carson was driving it here during testing. And we got right up behind it with the pace car convertible, standing up on the top. It was like a balmy summer's evening. I said to Mario and I said to Bobby, What are you guys talking about? Well, we had to say something, ha ha ha. You know. There was no heat behind that car. There wasn't. Besides, just common sense would tell you that you can't heat up the whole atmosphere. You can't heat up the whole city of Indianapolis with one turbine engine. Nevertheless, and ominously if you weren't part of the STP team, Granatelli had tempted legendary Parnelli Jones into racing it, and Jones, who was on the verge of retirement, was only willing to do that if he had a lock on the race. Granatelli was very convincing in his affirmation, and soon after the car was, too. Parnelli found that it could go everywhere he put it on the track. Up, down, in the middle the Swooshmobile didn't need a groove. Amazingly, not a single modification was needed to achieve that, says Granatelli: We never, ever adjusted a spring, a push-bar, nothing. We didn't change a thing on it. They didn't do a single thing to the car to make it handle it any better. They asked if the car was designed to handle it in the first place. It had equal weight distribution. It has center. It had the fuel tank down the center of the car forward, forward from front to rear. All the other cars since then and before then always had the fuel on one side or the other or on the back, but never all down the center. That's why I put the engine on one side and the driver on the other, because the weight would be equal all the time. Granatelli was so confident of its reliability that he didnt even consider an engine change between qualifying and the race. He was right about that, but didn't count on the Paxton gearing giving in. Having led 171 laps, Parnelli Jones coasted to a halt on lap 196 of 200 with just 7.5 miles to go. It was truly the nearest of misses. The Swooshmobile had been running away with the race when a five-dollar bearing in the gearcasing failed, at a point where Parnelli had almost a lap in hand on his nearest rival, AJ Foyt, and that was after spinning earlier in the race and having to claw his way back through the field. You know, Jones remembered, when I left the Speedway a couple of days later I felt bad. It was like I'd left home and knew I'd forgotten something, but couldn't remember what it was. The last-gasp loss didnt help easing up USACs stance. Horrified by Silent Sam's domination it changed the 1968 rules to further strangle the turbine's inlet area to 15,399 sq in, bringing down its output to around 450hp. This is testimony to the complete package of his cars, Granatelli said in 2000, when asked about this tumultuous era of Indy racing: Contrary to popular belief, the turbine car did not have a lot of power. It only had 480 horsepower while the other cars had 750 horsepower. But what the car did have was the ability to go along the corner anywhere on the track you wanted to put it. Under the groove, in the groove, under the white line, out in the gray stuff, it made no difference. The car could go wherever you pointed it. For those of you who've seen films on the race or those of you who were here when someone was driving a car, on the main straightaway, he'd go down, right down the side. He was breaking the car in. He didn't get out there in the groove at all. He drove it right down the wall. Well, that's the shortest way around the racetrack. The other poor guys wanted to go around the outside. We were driving all along the inside of the track, all along the track! [END QUOTE] Cheers, A.