I spent most of 2012 on the road interviewing engineers. Here are five of the coolest stories.
Somehow (perhaps because my day job was driving a car around the
country) I got pulled back into a world I hadn't covered since the
early 1980s, automotive racing. Rhonda Stratton and her team at
Littelfuse had come up with this idea to put engineers from all over
America together with racing engineers on the Indycar circuit. They
sponsored KV Racing's team for the season, so the opportunity to get
clutches of engineers to races around the country was perfect. We
got to tag along.
A little weary from 10 months of driving around the country, I
nevertheless took Memorial Day weekend to travel to Indianapolis
(where I landed my first reporting job in the 1980s) for the
Indianapolis 500. It was back home again in Indiana in many ways,
and what a blast that was. My colleague Sylvie Barak and I spent two
pre-race days track-ratting around with KV Racing's engineers and a
group of truly wonderful engineers (Bernie, Bill, Dinh, et al, I'm
looking at you!).
Come race day, driver Tony Kanaan of KV Racing played possum for
most of the race, until the end, when he battled for the lead, only
to end up second in an exciting, crash-marred, yellow-flag end to
We walked away with some wonderful memories and great stories:
In the fall, we got a chance to ride
along with Mario Andretti at Sonoma (dizzying doesn't
begin to describe it), and interview another
racing legend, Arie Luyendyk. We finished out the season
in 106-degree Fontana, Calif., where we got more amazing insights
into the engineering challenges team's race at the racing edge.
Related racing stories:
IndyCar, clever engineering is key
about engineering and racer's edge