Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Q&A With Jon Beekhuis

16th And Georgetown: (asked before KY) As the "technical" voice of the VERSUS T.V. trio, what do you believe is the cause for recent passing problems and how would you fix it?

Jon Beekhuis: (answered before KY) Wow, way to lead off with the $64,000 question! Even series officials have admitted to scratching their heads on this one. When it comes to ovals, two lanes of racing takes grip. The two largest contributors to overall grip are downforce and tire adhesion. For many of the ovals, the IRL rules mandate teams run more downforce than they really need. The theory is if the air gets disturbed by another car, there should still be enough margin to run close or in a second groove. This has worked great for many years but guess what…Racers being racers, the engineers have legally found ways to reduce this margin to make their cars faster. So a track that was run easily wide open a few years ago now has cars on a knife edge. In my opinion, the way to fix it is to add downforce, tire adhesion or both. Tire adhesion has a longer turnaround time, so the quick fix is to add some downforce. This is exactly what the series has planned for Kentucky onward. The first step is pretty small, so I wouldn’t expect an immediate return to the intense side-by-side action from a few years ago, but it should certainly be a step in the right direction.

16th And Georgetown: From someone who served as a Champcar analyst, which track on the CCWS lineup would you like to see visited by the Indycar Series?

Jon Beekhuis: That’s a no-brainer: Surfers Paradise. Of course IndyCar has already been down under and wasn’t able to add it to the schedule. Second choice: Road America.

16th And Georgetown: Being a former CART driver and Indy Lights Champion, what aspects from your driving career are most helpful now that your in the Television booth?

Jon Beekhuis: Of course it gives me the opportunity to speak from experience, but funny enough one of the most important aspects is recognizing that my time is done behind the wheel. Huh? You see, I feel that in order to truly appreciate what another driver is doing you need to wipe any “wish that were me” or “I could do better” thoughts. It puts you in a position of speaking as a fan of the sport, not somebody with an axe to grind. It doesn’t mean you can’t call a spade a spade, you just do it with a smile!

16th And Georgetown: Earlier in the season, Robbie's driver Mike Conway put his Dallara into the wall. Your first words to Robbie were something along the lines of "how much is that gonna cost you?" Be honest, from the time you found out that Robbie was going to be in the booth, you had that comment ready to fire.

Jon Beekhuis: Nope, not pre-canned. I have known Robbie for a long time but that was the first time we had worked side-by-side other than our audition in the off-season. We spent a bunch of time hanging out at Spring Training and it became immediately obvious he would most likely end up as the prankster and me the straight man, so this stuff comes naturally off the cuff. I really enjoy our booth team and I’m pretty sure there will be plenty more where that came from!


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