IRL: Indy Racing League notebook 2004-09-13

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Sept. 13, 2004 Today's IRL headlines 1. Safety Measures Help Rice Walk Away From Scary Accident 2. Post-race rewards for Fernandez, Wheldon 1. Safety Measures Help Rice Walk Away From Scary Accident: ...

Indy Racing League News and Notes -- Sept. 13, 2004

Today's IRL headlines
1. Safety Measures Help Rice Walk Away From Scary Accident
2. Post-race rewards for Fernandez, Wheldon

1. Safety Measures Help Rice Walk Away From Scary Accident: Thoughts of the October 2003 incident in which Kenny Brack sustained serious injuries flashed through Buddy Rice's mind as his car slid upside down on the backstretch during the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 12.

Aside from a hex on the car number, Brack was also driving a No. 15 Team Rahal entry, any other comparisons can't be drawn.

Rice's car remained intact and on the race surface after it flipped, and the driver walked away uninjured thanks to aerodynamic alterations implemented by the IRL for the 88th Indianapolis 500 in May and built-in safety equipment.

Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner, was in the middle of the lead pack when the left-rear tire of the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone touched the right-front tire of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry driven by Darren Manning on Lap 186 of the Delphi Indy 300. The impact pushed Rice's car sideways and lifted it over Manning's. It slid about 150 yards down the backstretch.

"Actually the crash wasn't as bad as I thought it might be," said Rice, whose helmet and roll hoop were the only things scratched. "The car moved up in the air and I just grabbed my seat belts and held on."

Since May, a quarter-inch vertical spine, designed to keep a spinning car from lifting off the track, has been used at all tracks. In addition, a curved skid plate is used at all tracks longer than one-mile, while a quarter-inch reverse wicker will be used at the final two races of the season.

At tracks where the reverse wicker is not used, the cars had brake ducts, tire ramps and sidepod extensions to create drag and extra downforce.

The roll hoop, which follows the contour of the headrest, is 5 inches above the driver's helmet and is constructed of SAE 4130 aircraft-quality tubing. Drivers are outfitted with a head and neck support that reduces forward motion and is tethered to their helmets.

Helmets, designed for racing, are made of carbon fiber, Kevlar or fiberglass shell, and are lined with energy absorbing foam and Nomex padding. Drivers also wear fire-resistant headsocks, underwear, gloves, shoes and a one-piece suit.

"The smack wasn't too bad at first and I was waiting for the big one," Rice said. "The Delphi Safety crew was there immediately."

The first Delphi IRL Safety Team vehicle was waiting for the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing car to come to a stop. It arrived within 10 seconds and a paramedic communicated to personnel that Rice was uninjured about 5 seconds later.

"We get that piece of information immediately," IRL Track Safety Coordinator Dave Brown said. "A paramedic immediately goes to the point where he can communicate with the driver. Once he confirms there are no injuries, he lets the driver know exactly what we want to do. He tells him to relax and let us do the work.

"That paramedic maintains proper position of the driver's head so that the airway is not compromised in the manipulation of the car to get it back on its wheels."

It was a textbook removal accomplished in less than one minute by the Delphi Safety Crew and local fire fighters. The crowd cheered as Rice climbed from the car and walked around.

"We established a protocol many years ago that says that unless there's extenuating circumstances (fire, unconscious driver), we want to get the car in an upright position before we attempt to remove the driver from the car," Brown said. "That way, we're absolutely positive that he has a good airway and that no injuries should occur in the extrication process.

"That also gives the driver time to reorient himself after being upside down to the point that he can do most of the removal by himself. Sunday's incident went pretty much by the book."

Rice was initially more upset about his finish (14th). He remains mathematically eligible for the IRL IndyCar® Series championship, but is 95 points behind leader Tony Kanaan.

"(The incident is) not something I want to be doing every week, but it was OK considering what could have happened," he said. "There were no bumps, no bruises. I just held on for the ride."

***

2. Post-race rewards for Fernandez, Wheldon: Dan Wheldon earned the $10,000 Firestone Performance Award for leading Lap 101 of the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 12 at Chicagoland Speedway.

The award commemorates Firestone participation in every IndyCar Series event since the league's inception in 1996.

Race winner Adrian Fernandez earned the $7,500 Marlboro Lap Leader Award for leading the most laps in the race. Both drivers will be honored during pre-race festivities for the Toyota Indy 400 on Oct. 3 at California Speedway.

***

The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Toyota Indy 400 at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 3 at California Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network. The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series event is the California 100 at on Oct. 2 at California Speedway. The race will be broadcast by ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Oct. 7

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Adrian Fernandez , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing