Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gas-2-3 Clutch-2-3 Brake-2-3

When was the last time you worried about the size of a "foot box?"

If it wasn't recently, then you probably aren't concerned about going fast in a 40-year-old race car. Especially one like the RIAM Eagle Mk5 that Tony Adamowicz is reaquainting himself with in the 2009 Historic Formula 5000 racing series.

That Eagle, typical of the designs of the day, has a narrow profile from front to back, much narrower than more modern race cars. And it is especially narrow in that critical portion near the front where the clutch, brake and throttle pedals are mounted.

Somehow, Adamowicz dealt with that problem 40 years ago when he drove the Eagle to the 1969 Continental Formula A championship. Cars don't shrink, drivers grow larger. Even their feet, apparently.

A small foot box means that the pedals are very close together and that means it's easy for a "big footed" race driver to accidentally push two pedals at once, especially under severe braking/downshifting maneurvers. The problem grows even more serious as the brake pedal "softens" as a race goes on.

It's a problem Adamowicz had to contend with at Road America. The team hopes to deal with it before the U.S. Vintage Grand Prix weekend, September 11-13, at Watkins Glen.

Making the foot box larger is not an option, of course. So the team will concentrate on making the pedal surfaces smaller to produce more space between them.

No consideration has been given to making the driver's feet smaller. Tony is already doing his best: At Road America, he stuffed his size 11 1/2 feet into size 10 driving shoes. And "danced" carefully.


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