BRAYTON, ALBORETO GET 'FIRST LOOKS' AT NEW DISNEY TRACK
(This is the fourth in a series of daily reports on Indy Racing League testing at the new one-mile Walt Disney World Speedway oval, already nicknamed "The Mickyard." The reports will continue through Friday for your use as desired.)
ORLANDO, Dec. 4, 1995 -- Scott Brayton, the 1995 Indianapolis 500 pole winner, was asked to compare his visit to Disney World as a seventh-grader with his first visit as a race driver Monday to participate in the first Indy Racing League tests at Walt Disney World Speedway.
"You don't have to stand in line for a ticket," Brayton said, "but it's a tougher ride because I'm the one who's trying to control it."
Brayton, Richie Hearn, Stephan Gregorie, Buzz Calkins and Bill Tempero got their first laps at the newly-nicknamed "Mickyard." Eliseo Salazar and Stan Wattles started their second rounds of testing and Formula One veteran Michele Alboreto took his first laps ever at an oval track on the first day of week-long testing activities at the world's newest superspeedway. More drivers and teams are scheduled the rest of the week.
Alboreto took 10 shakedown laps in the first morning and was all smiles. He was in the seat of a Scandia/Simon Racing-prepared machine.
"It's quite different from what I've learned in the last 20 years," Alboreto said after his initial run. "I've had a lot of help from Dick Simon. Eddie Cheever gave me some advice, also Eliseo.
"I'm taking my time to understand everything because I don't want to make disaster.
"There is not so much work -- you don't have to change gears, for example. But you need to listen to everything your body feels. Any little problem can be disaster. I can't imagine when 26 cars run together." Alboreto, a veteran of 194 Formula One races with five F1 victories, considered himself a "rookie" with ease.
"There are many things I don't know," he said. "At my age, to still be a rookie is a good feeling. I'm not here to make a record lap. I'm here to gain the understanding if I can do it. Between now and Christmas, I'll make a decision. If Santa Claus brought me an Indy car, it would be okay."
For the veteran Brayton, the track was unique.
"It was really interesting to come down here and go onto an oval as a new circuit," he said. "In the past so-many years, with the exception of Nazareth, the tracks were those we know and love.
"This track has more transitions than I've seen on any oval. It's very fast. It has incredible grip. I was very impressed with the width. I think it'll be a very challenging course to race on.
"My first time out, I ran 20.7 (seconds). You're trying to adjust to the course. The Lolas are going to be different than the Reynards, and we have a unique car/engine combination with the Menard V6. Our weight distributions are different. I can't predict how fast it's going to get."
Brayton described the track as "its own," but talked of similarities. He'll pilot a No. 2 Glidden Special for Team Menard this season. "Turn 3 reminds me of the 'kink' at Nazareth," Brayton said. "Turn 1 reminds you a little bit of Pocono Turn 1 on a smaller scale. Turn 2 ... I've never experienced that kind of turn anywhere with that degree of banking and coming down ... it's a little like coming onto the backstretch at Daytona where it flattens off.
"It's exciting to come to a track you've never driven on that's kind of a mixture of everything. I've had maybe 40 laps and, the last five, I knew where I was going."
NUM BEST BEST DRIVER TEAM LAPS TIME SPEED Eliseo Salazar Scandia/Simon Racing 61 20.372 176.713 Scott Brayton Team Menard 86 20.494 175.661 Richie Hearn DellaPenna Motorsports 78 20.560 175.097 Buzz Calkins Bradley Motorsports 126 20.918 172.101 Michele Alboreto Scandia/Simon Racing 123 21.025 171.225 Stephan Gregoire Hemelgarn Racing 96 21.232 169.555 Stan Wattles Leigh Miller Racing 84 21.784 165.259 Bill Tempero Tempero Racing 23 25.966 138.643