News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports Columns

August 17, 2012

TRACKSIDE: Brett Andrew plays role in developing NASCAR's new body styles

TERRE HAUTE — The recent announcement from NASCAR regarding the approved body styles for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series follows extensive wind-tunnel testing that was a year in the making.

The sanctioning group’s attempt to get its car body styling more in line with that of its stock manufacture models comes at the cost of many man hours of testing and putting the results to use on potential new creations that show up later at the race track.

Sullivan County native Brett Andrew is familiar with these factors. In his role as an aerodynamist, Andrew has had a first-hand approach in the testing sessions that led to NASCAR’s final approval of several models.

In his lengthy employment with Ford Motorsports, Andrew has been actively involved with the wind-tunnel testing at the Auto Research Center in Indianapolis, where the racing bodies are tested at 40-percent scale.

From that point, the test results are ultilized in a full-scale model at Ford’s test center in Charlotte, N.C. From there, the scene can switch to Marietta, Ga.

Andrew’s involvement in racing dates back to earlier roles with Pagan Racing in his Indy Racing League (IRL) days. This came following his outstanding basketball playing days — first at North Central High School in Farmersburg, then at Danville (Ill.) Community College and later at Marian College in Indianapolis.

While the bulk of his efforts are aimed at Ford’s NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide series endeavors, his experience has not been limited to stocks cars.

He’s also been involved with John Force’s Funny Car program in NHRA, Jack Roush’s Mustang entry in the Grand Am series and Daytona Prototypes machines.

NASCAR approved the Ford Fusion for 2013 following tests that got underway last August. The test included more than a half dozen 8- to 10-hour sessions.

When not in a test session, Brett likes to join his dad Glenn to run UMP dirt modifieds at Indiana short tracks. His active schedule this past weekend included running the mods at Bloomington Motor Speedway on Friday night, spending time at the soccer field with his family that resides in Brownsburg on Saturday and Sunday and a flight to Charlotte late Sunday night.

The Ford facility had to be beaming, considering Marcos Ambrose’s Sprint Cup win at Watkins Glen earlier in the day.

The wild finish at Glen on Sunday only strengthens the belief in this corner that the stockers would make for a great show at Indianapolis. With the sagging fortunes and ho-hum racing that plagues the current Brickyard 400 format, how could a change not help?

As radical as the idea might seem to Speedway traditionalists, the idea of such a move was entertained a few years back. The concept included festival-type seating around sections of the track’s existing road course. Unfortunately, the concept never made it past those making the final call.

One can only imagine the kind of show that Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Boris Said, to name a few, might deliver on a twisting IMS road circuit.

• Names in the news — It finally had to happen, but it was disappointing to see that legendary Steve Kinser missed his first Knoxville Nationals in 34 years over the weekend. It’s not a sign that Kinser might be slowing down, just that the competition in the World of Outlaws is so close these days.

Sammy Swindell joined Kinser on the sidelines Saturday night. Donny Schatz won the Nationals, his sixth win over the last seven years.

• First it was Ray Morgan’s surprise reemergence on the Wabash Valley sprint scene what with his team’s surprise win in the USAC Indiana Sprint Weeks race last month at the Terre Haute Action Track.

Now several of Morgan’s former Valley sprint-car competitors are back on the scene. Wil Newlin jumped back behind the wheel of his family’s UMP Modified earlier this season. Eric Burns is back in a sprinter.

Eric joins fellow Brazil racer Doug Heck in the sprints at Paragon on Saturday nights. Center Point’s John Nicoson also has been out in his sprinter this season. And don’t be surprised if the name of Seelyville’s Dusty Wright doesn’t rejoin the group in the near future.

Joe Buckles can be reached by e-mail at Joe Buckles4@frontier.com.

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