AD #1686 – Time for Closed Cockpits? Middle East Loves U.S. Cars, Suppliers Exit Interiors

August 24th, 2015 at 11:56am

Runtime: 7:34

- Time to Close Open Cockpits?
- Michigan Installs V2X Technology
- Middle East Loves U.S. Cars
- What’s Up With This BMW?
- Suppliers Exiting Interiors

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39 Comments to “AD #1686 – Time for Closed Cockpits? Middle East Loves U.S. Cars, Suppliers Exit Interiors”

  1. MJB Says:

    Sean, I must admit, when I first read today’s caption “Time to close open cockpits” paired with that pic of a sedan interior, my thoughts went instantly to having a plexiglass divider to activate at the touch of a button to isolate my wife and I from the constant chatter and noise from our 5 and 7 yr old boys in the back seat. :) :)

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted that feature!

  2. FamilyGuy Says:

    Given today’s available tech, perhaps open cockpit racers could have sensor controlled “instant” partial or full enclosure to deflect incoming debris.

  3. HtG Says:


    Google, EPA and Aclima are teaming up to put air quality sensors on Google’s Street View cars. Beginning in Denver and expanding to the bay area, the cars will measure pollutants as they develop through the day. From Smithsonian magazine.

    driver protection.

    For all the structure built up around the drivers today, we already cannot see the drivers. The addition of a thick debris shield, open at the top for cooling and escape, would seem simple. Maybe it’s more complicated though. Justin Wilson is only the latest driver to pay.

    Bayerische Mystery Wagon

    Do I care? Hang dich auf.

  4. HtG Says:

    I also want a debris shield to protect drivers’ hands. A few years ago Romain Grosjean tore through the field airborne at the start of the Spa GP and his car passed directly over the hands of Fernando Alonso. It was just luck that the best driver of his era didn’t have his fingers torn off. Start watching at 40seconds…

  5. Rob Says:

    Sean The BMW has those exhaust tips because like many development cars those allow or quick connection to vent exhaust gas when on a dyno which also explains the hooks. My guess is the powertrain is under development and this vehicle is placed on a dyno often as it is stil being tweeked.

  6. Lisk Says:

    Open vs. Closed cockpit. This is a tough call. There are so many cons to the closed cockpit such as visibility, ventilation, extraction, and fire. I don’t think the current cars could have a canopy “scabbed” on. I think this would have to be involved in the design and engineering process. The accident that happened Sunday was a very freak thing and I’m not sure a Lexan windscreen would have prevented all of the injuries, but it might have deflected some of the impact. Watching the race, I was very respectful of NBC pulling the cameras back from the incident. My prayers go out the Justin Wilson and his family for a speedy recovery.

  7. Rob Says:

    Closed cockpit racing; I’m not so sure that fans care that much about being able to see the driver (which is really just the top half of their helmet). That Red Bull F1 car looks great!

    I think the biggest concern will be the difficulty to get in and out quickly. Plus alcohol burns clear and being trapped inside a cockpit could suffocate a driver quickly.

  8. HtG Says:

    I can’t figure out what great contribution to society racing makes which justifies the lethal risks of open cockpits. Like the spec cars dragging billboards around in circles isn’t anything more than marketing. Did you see the big crowd at Pocono? Me neither. These guys shouldn’t be risking their lives for so little.

    And maybe the scoundrel scuderia, Ferrari, might want to reconsider its promotion of cigarette smoking. Probably not, they need the money too bad. Low lifes

  9. Drew Says:

    @ #1 MLB – I found a rear seat DVD/BluRay to be a perfect “mute button” for my kids when they were the same age as your kids.

  10. Drew Says:

    Oops – MJB

  11. Marshall Says:

    I’m all for the safety of a closed cockpit. All you see now anyway is a helmet bobbing around in the car. A closed cockpit would also I believe help to reduce driver fatigue.

  12. Mike Ma Says:

    It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the vehicles that the countries in the Middle East are buying; but it’s probably the usual suspects as they’re buying big SUVs, trucks and sports cars as it’s doubtful that they’re buying a Chevy Malibu or Cruze.

  13. EJB Says:

    Adding to an earlier comment from Rob.. The funny looking tail pipes are welded on to the the existing tail pipes as extensions out the rear of the vehicle for tail pipe emissions equipment connections. This is called a “Marmon flange” which a rubber gasket is placed and the same flange on the emissions equipment is then clamped on using a special vice-grip pliers. The hook is just that, it a tow hook supplied by the car manufacturer to pull the vehicle without tearing up the bumper cover (normally look for a little plug that covers the hole when hook is not being used!)

  14. MJB Says:


    Thank you, dear sir, for feeling my pain – haha

  15. Rob Says:

    HtG; Racing as made so many contributions to the auto industry the list is too long to list. Regardless if its jumping a truck through the desert, Round track or the drag strip, so many parts like transmissions, brakes, suspension, turbos, superchargers, aerodynamics came from racing. Many of todays safety features can be attributed to racing. Do a quick google search.

    Besides guys/gals will risk their lives to do something they love, maybe its racing, Mt climbing, sky diving etc and unless you have raced you may never understand.

  16. HtG Says:

    15 Racing has largely outlived its usefulness. Carcos and their suppliers can develop new tech all on their own, thanks. In the past, racing made a contribution as you said, but now except for maybe the 24 Hours of Lemans, not so much. I’ve made the same arguments as you, Rob. No more. Real world development is coming from the computer industry. I want to see GM or Porsche make 7nanometer computer chips for a racing purpose. It’s just silly. Pirelli intentionally makes naff tires because F1 thinks it improves the show. But Pirelli has their own scientists and test facilities for rubber that’s going to be on the road. F1 is advertising. Etc etc etc.

    Does racing want to contribute? Make a super lightweight structural material that is also cheap. Not this obscenely expensive carbon fiber. Hey, what’s that? BMW is making affordable carbon in the i3? Hey, somehow Sandy Munro missed that! How about McLaren make a self driving F1 car? I’d watch them try.

    I’ll wait. In the meantime, no more head injuries.

  17. HtG Says:

    I meant to write, ‘Sandy Munro missed the racing pedigree of BMW’s low cost carbon fiber!’ Which he didn’t

  18. merv Says:

    closed cockpits wouldn’t change my love of racing. if they could make the cars safer for the drivers,then go for it

  19. John McElroy Says:

    Racing continues to improve the breed. Honda, especially, uses it to develop new engineering talent. So do Audi, Ford,GM and others. There’s nothing like forcing an engineer to develop a fix by next week’s race, rather than by Job One three years from now. Racing is also an effective recruiting tool.

  20. G.A.Branigan Says:

    They still have car races? ;}>

  21. Brett Says:

    If you can’t accept the possibility of dying in a race car, don’t get in one.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If closed cockpits, or tall, thick Lexan windshields would make racing safer, it sounds good to me. The drivers still need to be able to see, though. Maybe racing could be used to help optimize forward facing cameras and monitors.

  23. Don LaCombe Says:

    AA Fuel drag cars have been successfully using closed cockpits for a couple years now. They are at speed for less than 4 seconds. I think the biggest inhibitor to Indy going to closed cockpits is the problem of extracting the driver in case of an accident where the driver is unconcious. Cockpit heat and visibility are also serious issues. This “fix” may be more dangerous than the problem.

  24. GM Veteran Says:

    Perhaps F1 should visit with the folks behind the technologies used in unlimited hydroplane racing. They have used fighter-jet style cockpit covers for more than a decade, prompted by driver injuries. Very similar to auto racing and with many of the same risks. They may have some answers to the good points raised here.

    Would love to know the cost of the technology installed on the stretch of 696 and 96 in Michigan. Cost per mile may restrict this technology to select areas in the future.

  25. Bob D Says:

    The mirror cameras on Indy cars showing the driver from the side and especially the steering action adds a lot to the enjoyment of the TV coverage. With that said, safety is paramount. It would seem like a thin longitudinal tapered fin could be added in front of the cockpit that could deflect debris and encroachment without interfering with the driver’s visibility and is another place to promote sponsors.

  26. Buzzerd Says:

    Htg- yes racing has a purpose as Rob says, maybe sitting on your couch you can’t see them but there are many. The traction control on my motorcycle would be one. Developed in Super Bike and MotoGP racing, also the adaptive suspension.
    Where exactly do you think they get the tire technology from?

  27. HtG Says:

    25 Buzzerd, I think if you read my posts today you’ll see I did say racing developed some tech. And it’s a padded desk chair, not a couch, from which I hurl my thunderbolts. ;)

  28. Buzzerd Says:

    I think it has added more than you give it credit for, at least from my chair, which could use a little more padding now that you mention it.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It was just announced on Indy TV stations that Justin Wilson has died. RIP.

  30. HtG Says:

    Terrible. RIP

  31. David Sprowl Says:

    For me I’d close the cockpit. Open wheel does not mean open cockpit.

    As to the interior business. I think the profits will shrink.

  32. Rope-Pusher Says:

    If you want to improve safety, enclose the wheels as well!

  33. Mark Says:

    BMW with the strange exhaust pipes? May be it is the water injection they are developing. Wonder what that will do do the catalytic converter though.

  34. blueovalblood Says:

    I don’t really care who does the interiors so long as the quality is there, but how about some new colors?!?! The F-150s were available with blue, green, red, and white a few years ago. Surely technology is available give us (a few) different colors!!

  35. blueovalblood Says:

    I don’t really care who does the interiors so long as the quality is there, but how about some new colors?!?! The F-150s were available with blue, green, red, and white a few years ago. Surely technology is available give us (a few) different colors!!

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32, 33 Yeah, you had a choice of about 13 interior colors when my parents ordered a 1966 Dodge Coronet. They got gold. Now, you have to get a Rolls-Royce to have any choice other than black, grey, tan, and in a few cases, red.

  37. MJB Says:


    Well there you have it, Kit.

    You just identified the single separator in the age-old Premium vs. Luxury debate. The ability to have your interior in a color other than tan, black, gray or red (or burnt orange too in the case of Infiniti and Chevy/GM).

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I guess Ford, Chevy, and Plymouth were luxury brands in the 1960′s, when you could actually order a car equipped the way you wanted.

  39. MJB Says:

    36. Yep. We’re good for role-reversals every half-century or so. Happened with the donkeys and elephants too. ;)