LOUDON, N.H.-- This is the first Trackside Report for Goodyear tire testing sessions today through Wednesday at New Hampshire International Speedway. These are the first tests this year for Indy Racing League cars at the one-mile oval in preparation for the 1996-1997 season-opening True Value 200 Aug. 16-18. The sessions are private, not open to the public or media. Interview requests for the three days may be accommodated on an individual basis.
An open IRL test session will be held at New Hampshire International Speedway July 23, 24 and 25, 1996. A media day is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23.
Four teams are on hand for the tests this week. They are Pagan Racing (Roberto Guerrero), Team Scandia (Eliseo Salazar), A.J. Foyt Enterprises (Scott Sharp, Davey Hamilton) and Della Penna Motorsports (Richie Hearn).
Hearn is coming off a lap at 222.359 miles per hour June 27 around the new Las Vegas Motor Speedway's 1=BD -mile oval during an Indy Racing League= test, believed to be the fastest lap ever turned on a track of that length. He was asked about the turbocharger pressure used during the run. "I was running, like, 45.3 (inches), which was just what the (popoff) valve runs," Hearn said. "I'll never run more than I need. It's not good on the motors and that's not why you were there. You're not there to find out how much boost you can run. It'll show up when we go back for the race."
Hearn got his first look at the New Hampshire oval Sunday upon arrival and went around it on a scooter. "I've seen it on TV," he said. "The turns are pretty sharp, a lot sharper than what they look like on TV. The front straight is lower than the back straight, so you have a little elevation change. It's different than other ovals I've driven. It's a change of pace...especially from Vegas."
Roberto Guerrero finished fourth in the 1993 race for the cars at New Hampshire. "It's the only real oval," Guerrero said. "The most distinct thing is the straightaways are longer and the corners are tighter. It's a fun place. I remember I enjoyed it." He was asked about improvements in the cars. "The cars are the same as last year," Guerrero said. "The tires have improved quite a bit. I was talking to the Goodyear guys and they've made a lot of gains from last year on the ovals. When you think about it, there's really nothing else that's changed. The engines haven't changed and the chassis are the same."
Indy Racing League drivers have established and/or broken track records at each of the IRL's three event sites to date. Buddy Lazier established the mark of 181.388 miles per hour at the inaugural at Walt Disney World. Arie Luyendyk shattered the track mark at Phoenix with a lap at 183.599 mph and Luyendyk set the one-lap (237.498 mph) and four-lap (236.986 mph) records at Indianapolis. The track mark at NHIS is 21.466 seconds, 177.436 miles per hour by Andre Ribeiro last Aug. 19.
Paul Lauritzen, sales manager / IRL marketing manager for Goodyear, said this morning in Loudon that 300 tires would be used for the three-day test. He added that Goodyear had found improvements at testing earlier this year and figured to find additional improvements here. "What we learned at Phoenix and the steps we've taken to improve from last year apply directly to Loudon," Lauritzen said. "Phoenix is a track where we have a comparison (as opposed to new IRL venues at Walt Disney World and Las Vegas). And what we learn here will apply to Phoenix next year."
Tickets are available for the Aug. 16-18 True Value 200 through New Hampshire International Speedway. The weekend, in addition to the IRL race, includes the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour and the USAC/SCCA Formula Ford 2000 series. For information, call 603/783-4931.
At 1:57 p.m., Eliseo Salazar, in a Team Scandia car that was being set up to participate in tire testing, hit the wall in Turn 2. Salazar was uninjured. The car sustained left rear and gearbox damage. Team members said the crew has a backup car and would use it for the tests if the primary cannot be repaired on site. "It got loose in the middle of the corner and I had no time to do anything," Salazar said.
At 4:21 p.m., Richie Hearn in the Della Penna Motorsports car hit the Turn 2 wall, came off the wall and slid to a stop in the middle of the backstretch. Hearn was awake and alert and was transported to Concord Hospital for examination of back pain. The car sustained heavy left side and rear-end damage.