By Jack Durbin - Motorsport.com
The Firestone Firehawk 600 presented by Pioneer has been postponed 'due to irresolvable concerns over the physical demands placed on the drivers at race speeds. All but four drivers reported they had experienced high g-force related (vertigo-like) symptoms during long practice runs. Joe Heitizler, CEO and President, made the announcement at the Texas Motor Speedway after 24 hours of involved meetings and discussions with drivers, teams, sponsors and the speedway.
Driver enter 'uncharted waters' when they began to run laps in excess of 230 mph on the 24 degree banks of the Texas Motor Speedway. This created very high lateral G-forces, exceeding five G's. This combined with vertical G forces of three G's is greater than any experienced previously by CART FedEx drivers in any racing situation. Dr. Olvey explained that at such high lateral forces, the inner ear is affected causing loss of balance and spatial orientation
Several drivers after long periods of time at speeds above 230 mph, reported to their teams that they felt they could no longer maintain control of their cars, so they parked them. At least one driver later reported to Dr. Steve Olvey that he could not walk straight, or maintain his balance for some five minutes after to exited his car.
"A situation developed on Friday afternoon that in my 25 years of working in motorsports, I had never experienced. Two drivers pulled off the race track after long stints at over 230 miles per hour. they pulled in because they were dizzy and disoriented and felt that they could no longer control the race car."
Dr. Olvery continued, "On Saturday, a driver who came into the CART Mobile Medical Facility for another reason said that he couldn't walk for up to five minutes after getting out of his car. We brought in all of the drivers to explain this to them and found that all but four of them had experienced similar symptoms. We really couldn;' send the drivers into a situation which was totally unknown with the risk of having them become unconscious, sick or disoriented."
Dr. Olvey reported this to CART officials, and he began to research the problem. At a 4:00 pm driver's meeting, when polled if they had experienced any problems. All but four of the drivers raised their hands. From a medical perspective this condition clearly put the drivers at risk, if the race were to be run.