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Another Look at Smokey Yunick's Capsule Car


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#1 Magoo

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 10:02

One of the most unusual Indy cars ever built, Smokey Yunick's 1964 capsule car continues to fascinate race fans to this day. Here's a detailed look. 

 

 

Another Look at Smokey Yunick's Capsule Car | Mac's Motor City Garage.com 

 

 

4zhog.jpg



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#2 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 12:07

Thanks for sharing. Love the concept. Hate the side impact protection (especially on the left hand side!).



#3 Nemo1965

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 13:41

If there ever is a thread openened with 'Visual Frightening Cars', this would score high in my book. Damn!



#4 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:59

Thanks for sharing. Love the concept. Hate the side impact protection (especially on the left hand side!).

right side is excellent however!



#5 Canuck

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:14

That had to take some massive set of iron cojones to pilot...remarkable.



#6 gruntguru

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:22

Some folk even race motorcycles!



#7 Kelpiecross

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 05:37

Some folk even race motorcycles!


I like the idea too - possibly a lot could be done these days to improve the safety aspect.

#8 saudoso

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 10:55

His head is damn close to those pipes.


Edited by saudoso, 30 April 2014 - 10:55.


#9 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 13:54

right side is excellent however!

Assuming that isn't the fuel tank sat underneath the airscoop (which in all likelihood it is judging by the fuel cap position and to keep the C of G as low and central as possible!).



#10 Greg Locock

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 00:14

I suspect that one reason it wasn't pursued is that the aero drag would be horrible.



#11 Canuck

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 03:10

Indeed, motorcycles tend to spit you off and let you whirl about in your own space like a rag doll or if you're lucky sliding down the tarmac in your leathers wondering how long until the friction starts to scorch you.  And they tend to race against other equally exposed souls.  This, instead of being trapped in a pile of hurtling, twisting, fiery wreckage that has pinned you beneath it's melting tire.  That car might actually be safer without a seatbelt.  Or other cars on the track.



#12 Greg Locock

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 03:42

Hang on, in principle it is no worse than a sportscar, in practice yes Smokey concentrated on performance not driver safety, like everybody else then. i think it was an interesting experiment, and sort of wonder why people didn't take the logical thought behind it, and move the entire fuselage over, or change the suspension arm lengths left and right which is the same thing.



#13 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:26

His head is damn close to those pipes.

Intakes!



#14 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:29

Assuming that isn't the fuel tank sat underneath the airscoop (which in all likelihood it is judging by the fuel cap position and to keep the C of G as low and central as possible!).

Tank is between the front wheels. Better than sitting in it like is still the practice even now. And yes they used bag tanks even then.And methanol which is safer than petrol by a long shot.

Saying that I feel that type of oval racing is still not for me!



#15 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 07:36

Reading the story though you wonder why Smokey used the drums. Even then disc brakes were quite commonplace on those cars. 

As someone else mentioned an offset chassis would have been the go. look at a modern midget or most of those modern US Super Modifieds.

But Smokey always thought outside the square, even if it was conventially a bit weird.

For people who have an interest in building engines read his Power Secrets book. You may not agree with him but it does make you think.



#16 saudoso

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 10:21

Intakes!

Ouch!



#17 7MGTEsup

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 11:09

Tank is between the front wheels. Better than sitting in it like is still the practice even now. And yes they used bag tanks even then.And methanol which is safer than petrol by a long shot.

Saying that I feel that type of oval racing is still not for me!

 

They were using gasoline in 1964 with unlimited fuel tanks. It was the Sachs McDonald crash that bought in the Methanol and tank limit size regs a year later.



#18 Magoo

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 12:01

Reading the story though you wonder why Smokey used the drums. Even then disc brakes were quite commonplace on those cars. 

As someone else mentioned an offset chassis would have been the go. look at a modern midget or most of those modern US Super Modifieds.

But Smokey always thought outside the square, even if it was conventially a bit weird.

For people who have an interest in building engines read his Power Secrets book. You may not agree with him but it does make you think.

 

Given the style of driving in that period, the brakes would be more than adequate in surface area and capacity. The problem: with aluminum drums/cast iron liners and metallic linings, the brakes were grabby and erratic until they were fully up to temperature...and given the driving style, they never got up to temp. So apparently, Johns drove too deep into Turn 1 on his first qualifying lap and tapped the brake pedal -- whereupon one wheel grabbed and sent him around. 

 

No doubt that with sufficient testing, the issue could have been sorted out with different lining materials or iron drums, but no test time was ever budgeted. Risky business in a one-off special, running untried components without adequate testing. 



#19 Canuck

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 18:18

Sure.  I would agree that too takes great brass danglies to do. 



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#20 Bloggsworth

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 20:53

Hang on, in principle it is no worse than a sportscar, in practice yes Smokey concentrated on performance not driver safety, like everybody else then. i think it was an interesting experiment, and sort of wonder why people didn't take the logical thought behind it, and move the entire fuselage over, or change the suspension arm lengths left and right which is the same thing.

 

They were built with offset chassis, or at least, the 1964 Lotus 34 did, and I'm sure it was normal to have the RH suspension sticking further out than the left. There were 2 sets of wishbones/arms, one for ovals and one for road courses. I am sitting, at 19, on the edge of the flatbed with Dan Gurney's car - Needless to say, I am not that slim now!

 

JB_Loading_Dan_Gurney_s_64_Indy_Car.jpg



#21 Greg Locock

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 00:19

Wow, thanks. So, he was on to something and it wasn't a dead end.



#22 Magoo

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 00:35



They were built with offset chassis, or at least, the 1964 Lotus 34 did, and I'm sure it was normal to have the RH suspension sticking further out than the left. There were 2 sets of wishbones/arms, one for ovals and one for road courses. I am sitting, at 19, on the edge of the flatbed with Dan Gurney's car - Needless to say, I am not that slim now!

 

JB_Loading_Dan_Gurney_s_64_Indy_Car.jpg

 

 

Great photo, thanks for sharing. 

 

Yes indeed, by the early '50s when the roadsters arrived, they were using chassis offset, suspension offset, and driveline offset, in endless combinations. Every builder seemed to have a pet theory or variation. Roadsters all seem to look alike, but when you really study them in detail, differences become apparent. 

 

The car below is a Kurtis KK500 from 1954 Note the front axle offset. The tube protruding through the grille is for the remote electric starter, so it serves as a tell as to the location of the crankshaft CL of the Offy four. On the Kurtis, the engine was also laid over 32 degrees to the right. 

 

getting back to Yunick, I believe Smokey recognized that the mid-engine formula-style car was superior to the roadster, but he didn't want to follow. The capsule car was another path to the same result. 

 

 

 

ukcq.jpg



#23 Magoo

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 08:01

getting back to Yunick, I believe Smokey recognized that the mid-engine formula-style car was superior to the roadster, but he didn't want to follow. The capsule car was another path to the same result. 

 

 

But I don't mean to suggest the capsule car produced the same result. For one thing the aerodynamics would be horrible, as Mr. Locock noted. 

 

In stories of roadster vs. formula car battle at Indy, it is often implied that the formula car triumphed due to superior weight distribution. Actually, there was nothing wrong with the roadster's weight distribution. It seems to me that the real advantages of the formula car were reduced frontal area and lighter weight. 



#24 ray b

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 23:07

They were using gasoline in 1964 with unlimited fuel tanks. It was the Sachs McDonald crash that bought in the Methanol and tank limit size regs a year later.

some cars used gas mostly the fords

but fuel type was optional and the offies used methanol [and made more power on methanol ]

so I don't think  smokey used gas


Edited by ray b, 03 May 2014 - 23:09.


#25 mariner

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 09:19

I have spent many long minutes staring at pics of this car because it is so interesting ( and not just in the "odd" sense).

 

I always wondered about the poor radiator flow design but if it was for gas turbine power that is finally explained to me.

 

There was story/claim that Colin Chapman spent a long time studying it at Indy.That may be US wishful thinking but I can see Chapman thnking hard about the layout.

 

Safety issues aside, the  cooling as installed could have been marginal in the race but you could easily have fitted a ducted rad up front..

 

The weight distributon ( front/rear and left/right) benefits could have ben very useful at Indy when downforce was not dominant.

 

PS for Bloggsworth, nice pic. On our recent Lotus North Lonodn tour we stood in that place with Cedric  Selzer as our tour guest. If you have an email that accepts pics I can send you some. We had 10 Lotus's there and one even had an elecrical breakdown outside the Team Lotus shops!

 

Your pic. reminds me again just how young so many mechanics wer in those days. A huge responsibllity at an age whe most peope today are only part way through college.



#26 Bloggsworth

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 16:24

I'd have been 19 and a few months then. I had presented myself at the Indycar shop at 8 AM on the Wednesday morning, and left at 2:30 AM/PM on the Thursday night/Friday morning, and was more than a little miffed to find that when I got my pay packet the following week that they put me back to standard time at 8AM every morning, then time and a quarter after 6, time and a half after 8, and double-time from midnight to 8 AM; I argued, to no effect, that from midnight on the Wednesday I should have been on double time! One if the nights was enlivened by someone doing a test start in a Lotus 30 at about 2 AM one morning; the following day Tony Hegbourne took it for a run at Brands, a bit of lappery that came to a premature end when the dashboard fell on his lap.


Edited by Bloggsworth, 04 May 2014 - 16:25.


#27 mariner

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 19:22

The pics put up by Magoo do not show teh chasis construction. In th pics of the stripped car I have seen the chassis was not too good structurally.

 

basicaly four longitudinal tubes with no bracing in any direction. It would not have had any real torsional rigidity so chassis tuning would have  been difficult. Not very safe either.



#28 Bloggsworth

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 19:54

The pics put up by Magoo do not show teh chasis construction. In th pics of the stripped car I have seen the chassis was not too good structurally.

 

basicaly four longitudinal tubes with no bracing in any direction. It would not have had any real torsional rigidity so chassis tuning would have  been difficult. Not very safe either.

 

Interesting. I would have thought that, as there was no hole for the driver, it would be easy to make a very rigid chassis.



#29 Kelpiecross

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:50


In general concept I would have thought the "Capsule" car was not vastly different from the Lotus "backbone" chassis of the Elan and the Lotus30/40?

#30 Fat Boy

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 16:22

I don't think it's fair to say that Smokey wasn't interested in driver safety. He wrote about this car in his books. His logic was that a prepoderance of crashes damaged the right side of the car and this gave the best protection in that type of crash. I would also bet that the car had a legitimate fuel cell, which he tried to be allowed to use in NASCAR, but was rejected until after the death of either Fireball Roberts or Curtis Turner.

 

This is from memory, I could be wrong about all of it.



#31 Magoo

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:15



The pics put up by Magoo do not show teh chasis construction. In th pics of the stripped car I have seen the chassis was not too good structurally.

 

basicaly four longitudinal tubes with no bracing in any direction. It would not have had any real torsional rigidity so chassis tuning would have  been difficult. Not very safe either.

 

 

2utb.jpg

h02g.jpg



#32 Greg Locock

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 10:39

Excellent. My predecessor as a chassis designer pinched that suspension design for our first solar car, which came second in the inaugural World Solar Challenge 1987 (beaten by those dastardly GM boys), and which i raced in 2007 as well.

 

You gotta say, torsional stiffness wasn't much of a thing back then.



#33 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 10:41

I cant see a weight jacker on the front spring. Was there one? Going by the shocks there is some form of weight jacking. The shocks are working 'backwards' to the norm.

The chassis looks reasonably strong for the period, and fairly heavy too I suspect.



#34 gruntguru

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Posted 31 May 2014 - 09:27

A missed opportunity? If the chassis was covered with a stressed skin, the torsional rigidity could have been increased dramatically due to the absence of a cockpit opening.