Like most American kids that grew up in the 80's I watched the Indy 500 every year and became interested in motorsports thanks to that race, but I didn't really get hooked until I started watching Formula 1 racing in the late 90's. My favorite era were those years with the great Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher battles. (I was a Mika Hakkinen fan) So my fondness for Formula 1 waned once Mika retired and Schumacher started winning everything, even at the expense of his teammate Rubens Barrichello. My interest in F1 has only been lukewarm since.

Then I turned to Champ Car racing here in the US for my motorsports fix. However that was quickly extinguished once Champ Car and Indy Car merged and we were stuck with Tony George and his many foibles. (It was entertaining to watch the Hulman/George drama I'll admit.) My interest has been less than lukewarm with Indy Car lately, even without Tony George at the helm.

Over time however, the excitement I once had for motorsports has slowly gone. Maybe it has to do with my age, I don't know. But I think I will pour my efforts into my Trooper and my interests in the outdoors to add excitement to my life.

Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it. I will still post racing news when I find something interesting or noteworthy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

IRL urged to act over Conway crash

(by Simon Strang 6-3-10)

Double Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and former Marlboro 500 winner Mark Blundell have called on the IndyCar Series to act to curb teams employing fuel-saving strategies on ovals in the aftermath of Mike Conway's accident.

The Briton sustained broken vertebrae and compound fractures to his left leg when his Dreyer & Reinbold car vaulted over the back of Ryan Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport Dallara during this year's Indianapolis event.

The accident happened when the American's car began to run out of fuel while trying to make it to the finish in eighth place.

Blundell, Conway's manager, believes that the IRL should consider introducing regulations to prevent a similar accident in the future, adding that the 26-year-old - who will require a further operation following the five-hour one he had on Monday - could not have avoided hitting Hunter-Reay.

"What happened on Sunday could have been avoided," Blundell told AUTOSPORT. "There could have been a fatality, not just on track, but also in the crowd.

"They need to do something about it so that it doesn't happen again. If you haven't driven an IndyCar at those speeds, you could never understand, but there is nothing a driver can do in those situations. If a driver has run out of fuel and is coasting on the racing line, you simply have no time to react at all."

Blundell wants to see rules introduced to ensure that drivers have to finish the race on a minimum amount of fuel - to avoid running out altogether - or be forced to run on the low line of the track if they are in fuel-saving mode, so that faster runners know to avoid them.

Several drivers were lapping off their optimum pace in a bid to make their fuel go the distance on Sunday.

"The Indy Racing League needs to look at it," he said. "There should be one that forces drivers to run on the low line if they are in fuel-saving mode, or stay up high out of the way, but either way never take the racing line with the speed differences involved because it can be as much as 80mph.

"They were black-flagging drivers for blocking during the race, which is fair enough, because that is dangerous, but the speed differential was only between two and five mph. There were cars at the end of the race going at 150mph while others were doing 220.

"Mike had a strategy that saw him running flat out for 500 miles and that's the name of the game - 500 miles. Plus race control had several laps to assess the difference in speed between the leaders low on fuel and the guys coming back through the pack at full racing speed. There should be a mechanism in place to avoid this happening again.

"The bottom line," he added, "is that they need to introduce a rule to ensure drivers finish with fuel in the tank. That would take some of this kind of thing away."

In a statement, the Indy Racing League's CEO Brian Barnhart explained that the event's organisers always tell competitors to head for the apron if their car hits trouble and that this was the case on Sunday.

"Like every other race, when a car is running out of fuel or having a mechanical problem, we implore the driver to move as quickly as possible to the apron of the track and out of the way of traffic," said Barnhart. "With the timing of the incident at Indy, Ryan's car just began to sputter and there was no time for him to pull out of the line of traffic before impact was made."

Luyendyk - who won two Indy 500s, in 1990 and '97, and coached Conway in this year's event – said that while it was understandable that drivers were allowed to try and save fuel at the end of the race, it was unacceptable for cars to run out altogether on fast ovals.

"The IRL needs to change the rules because normally if you're running way off the pace on an oval they black flag you to prevent accidents because of the huge speed difference – the closing rates are so great," he said. "In this case they let everybody out, which is understandable because all the front-runners were off the pace saving fuel with a few laps left, but to actually run out of fuel cannot happen on an oval especially with the speeds and speed differential.

"Mike had nowhere to go, he was running 220mph laps and most others [were running] around 200. I believe there is a rule in F1 to have 1.5 gallons of fuel left in the car at the conclusion of a race. It would be a good rule to have that here."

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