OAKS, PA – It has always been the goal of Len Sammons Productions to present something new and different at the Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports 2017 Race Car and Trade Show Fueled by Sunoco Distributed By Insinger Performance here at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.
Well, when the show takes place from Jan. 20-22, visitors will see something along with that thinking as on display for the entire weekend will be the 2016 dark-grey, light-grey and red-toned Ferrari-powered/Dallara-chassied Haas F1 VF-16 Grand Prix Race Car.
And what makes this high-tech racing machine such an important item is that it was the first car to be entered in the Formula One World Championship by an American team since 1986.
The Haas F1 Team was created in April 2014 after a lot of research and consideration by industrialist Gene Haas who has an impressive résumé in the business and motorsports world.
In the first case, Haas founded the Oxnard, California-based Haas Automation in 1983 that designs and manufactures a variety of precision machine tools and specialized accessory tooling with its main focus on computer numerically controlled (CNC) items such as vertical machining centers and horizontal machining centers, lathes/turning centers and rotary tables and indexers.
Yet while Haas Automation has operations in Belgium, China and India, most of its production and manufacturing process occurs at the company’s main facility in Oxnard and it is one of the largest tool builders in the world.
The second interest that Haas has is Stewart-Haas Racing that he co-owns with three-time (2002, 2005 & 20011) NASCAR Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart who retired from NASCAR competition at the end of 2016.
Originally founded in 202 as Haas CNC Racing, in 2009 Haas offered Stewart a 50-percent ownership in his team in return for his driving services. And this year Stewart-Haas Racing will provide Ford Fusion/Roush-Yates Engine-powered entries in NASACR’s premier touring series for Kevin Harwick (No. 4), Danica Patrick (No. 10), Clint Boyer (No. 14) and Kurt Busch (No. 41), and the No. 00 Ford Mustang for Cole Custer in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.
The Haas motorsports operation has an interesting organizational plan. Although the Haas F1 Team does have a shop in Banbury, England, in order to be closer to the European center of Formula One Racing, both it and Stewart-Haas Racing are officially headquartered on the same sprawling campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
As far as the Haas F1 VF-16 Grand Prix Race Car that will be on display at Motorsports 2017 goes, it represents the two cars that were used last year in 21 Grand Prix races by a pair of veteran drivers – Frenchman Romain Grosjean and Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez.
The car has a carbon-fiber and honeycomb composite-structure chassis that was built by Dallara Automobili in Parma, Italy, which also builds the IndyCar chassis. And it is powered by a $200,000 Ferrari 061 turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 hybrid engine – with an Energy Recovery System (ERS) – that is limited to 15,000 rpm and lubricated by Shell Oil products.
The ERS dramatically increases the overall mechanical and fuel efficiency of the 900-plus-horsepower engine by harvesting and redeploying heat energy from the exhaust and brakes that would usually go to waste. Plus, it accounts for an additional 160 brake horsepower.
Carbon fiber also makes up the bodywork on the 1,544.4-pound/702-kilogram (with driver) single-seat, rear-engined racing machine. While its quick-shift transmission – with eight gears plus reverse – features a Ferrari servo-controlled hydraulic limited-slip differential with a semi-automatic sequential gearbox all controlled by a standard ECU (Electronic Control Unit).
The car also has four-wheel independent suspension, Ferrari steering and instrumentation and a carbon fiber driver’s seat that is custom-molded to each driver’s contours. An integral roll hoop protects the cockpit and a six-point Sabelt safety harness secures the driver.
Any of five 13-inch-wide dry-weather slick Pirelli P ZERO tire compounds – as well as grooved intermediate and grooved wet-weather tires used under appropriate conditions – are mounted on 13-inch OZ Racing Wheels while Brembo carbon-fiber disc brakes, pads and six-piston calipers handle the stopping chores.
And there is one more thing about this car that is very interesting.
Formula One World Championship Races are held on some of the most-historic, beautiful and interesting road-racing and street circuits in the world. But no matter where these events take place each one is approximately 305 kilometers/190 miles in length and they are run under a strict competitive time limit of two hours.
There is also no refueling during these races; scheduled three-second pit stops are only for tires. So the Haas F1 VF-16 racers – which have a top speed of 225 mph – started each event with 100 kilograms (36.6 gallons) of unleaded Shell Racing Gasoline in their ATL fuel cells.
In 2016, the Haas F1 Team was cited for its outstanding effort as a new operation in what is the most technically-sophisticated automobile racing series in the world. And this was highlighted by Grosjean scoring an impressive 29 Formula One points; an effort that helped Haas F1 to finish 8th in Team Standing and Grosjean to finish13th in Driver Standings.
The car to be seen at Motorsports 2017, though, is now really a museum piece as this year the “more aggressive” Formula One racers will be a little wider, a little longer and a little lower. Plus, in the interest of improving lap times, the tires will be 2-3-inches wider.
And there will be another change to Haas F1 when the season begins on March 26 in Melbourne, Australia, as Grosjean will have a new teammate, veteran Danish driver Kevin Magnussen.