Fort Worth, Texas, April 29, 2001 - Expressing concerns about the excessive physical demands placed on drivers racing on the 24-degree banking of the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval, FedEx CART Championship officials postponed the Texas 600 a...
Fort Worth, Texas, April 29, 2001 - Expressing concerns about the excessive physical demands placed on drivers racing on the 24-degree banking of the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval, FedEx CART Championship officials postponed the Texas 600 a few hours before it was scheduled to begin on Sunday.
"It's disappointing to announce this postponement but it's necessary," said CART president Joseph Heitzler. "CART, its teams, drivers, manufacturers and sponsors are unanimous in the decision to postpone the race. We have reached the conclusion that we cannot comfortably race today due to the physical demands placed on the drivers when travelling at speeds of over 235 miles an hour on this 1.5-mile oval."
CART officials first expressed their concern following reports submitted on Saturday by medical personnel and the drivers. A number of the drivers complained of fatigue, light-headedness and dizziness after long stretches of going more than 235 miles an hour. Dr. Steve Olvey, CART's Director of Medical Affairs, raised his concerns about the drivers' safety after conducting a study of the G-forces being exerted on the drivers' bodies. The doctor found the G-forces to be well beyond the norm.
The G-forces on the drivers registered 4.33 in the turns and an average of 3.336 for a lap, which is extremely demanding on the body. In particular, such G-forces put enormous pressure on a driver's head, which is why many of the drivers were experiencing dizziness and light-headedness. The intensity of the discomfort increased in relation to the number of laps the drivers put in. As a safety precaution, which had nothing to do with track conditions, CART officials decided not to put the drivers at risk.
No makeup date for the race has been announced as yet. Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier qualified on the front row, alongside pole-sitter Kenny Brack of Sweden during Saturday's session. Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani was also impressive in qualifying, putting in the eighth fastest lap to start on the inside of Row 4.
"I know it's disappointing for the fans, but if everyone takes a close look, postponing the race is the best decision that could have been made," said Carpentier. "There was no way we could race under these conditions. Four drivers almost passed out when they got out of their car. Their vision had become narrow and impaired. There is always a certain risk in motor racing but when there's a chance there could be trouble from the start, it's too dangerous to proceed."
Tagliani echoed the sentiments of his teammate. "In one sense, I'm disappointed because Team Player's had given me a great car for the race," he remarked. "I really wanted to pick up some points today. But it was physically impossible to endure that much pressure for such a long period of time. I started feeling the symptoms of this excessive G-force on Saturday after doing 20 laps."
Following the announcement of the postponement, Team Player's packed up its equipment and prepared to head for Pennsylvania, where it will compete in Round 4 of the series next Sunday with the presentation of the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix on the 1-mile Nazareth Speedway oval.