Chief Steward "Pleased" With IRL Test Week At Disney World
This is the eight and final daily report on Indy Racing League testing at the new one-mile Walt Disney World Speedway. A separate report will be filed on Formula 2000 testing on Saturday.)
ORLANDO, Dec. 8, 1995 -- Keith Ward is starting his first season early as chief steward for the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis 500.
Ward and other United States Auto Club officials have been on hand at Walt Disney World Speedway throughout the IRL test week. Through today, 3,670 total test laps had been run and timed by USAC for 13 cars and 17 drivers.
"It's been a very good week," Ward said. "All the guys came in here with a purpose and got some experience with this new track. I was pleasantly surprised with the progress. Some of the new 'lions' demonstrated they truly can run these cars and be very competitive.
"We're very pleased with what we've seen," he added. "We had one accident (Roberto Guerrero on Dec. 7) and we suspect now that it was an equipment failure, but it's still being examined.
"There are some who need additional seat time and some are going to Phoenix to test. We may find we need some additional testing or ROPs (rookie orientation programs) to get some ready either here or at other tracks. But I feel we'll be very well prepared.
"Everybody got to run a significant number of laps and we've got times down to the mid-20 (-second) range. (Eliseo) Salazar, (Buddy) Lazier in the tire test and two rookies (Richie Hearn and Buzz Calkins) got down to the 19.8 (-second) range. These are real good times at a mile track. I think more of that's going to be forthcoming as others get finalized and teams come together."
Ward said his officiating team was set and ready to go.
"A lot of good people have been made available to us," he said. "Johnny Rutherford is a good example. John has the ability to communicate with drivers on things we as officials might not be able to. That's a valuable tool to help us.
"Camaraderie and cooperation have just absolutely been outstanding. That's what the IRL has to be based on. We have to operate as a family and take care of each other to make a strong series."
Rookie Butch Brickell of Miami became the last driver to test during the week when he took to the track Friday. The car had previously been shaken down by veteran John Paul Jr.
Brickell has competed in road racing, off-road racing and offshore powerboat racing. He's also a Hollywood stuntman and has worked in "True Lies", "License to Kill", "The Specialist", "Scarface" and "Ace Ventura".
But today was his first on an oval in an Indianapolis car and he worked his way in one afternoon to a lap of 24.987 seconds, which translates to 144.075 miles an hour.
"I've done ovals before in the Hooter's series but not in this," Brickell said. "It's incredible. I've got to get some neck braces because my head is bouncing around. This is a learning process.
"As far as adrenaline goes, it'll match anything I've ever done. As far as driving, everything's happening very quick out there."
He said he needed "seat time" more than anything.
"The basic priority is to get the time," he said. "I've only had about 250 miles on this car and that was at Moroso (Motorsports Park, a road course). I know I'm not going to be the fastest guy out there and hopefully not the slowest, either."
Brickell was asked about his movie work.
"It's been mostly driving boats and planes," he said. "In 'Fair Game', I did a two-week-long car chase, and it was kind of fun with head-ons and stuff. I was doubling one of the terrorists in 'True Lies'. In 'The Specialist', they rented my shipyard for five months and I played one of the SWAT guys in that. It's more like a hobby, but it's a lot of fun."
Roberto Guerrero was released early this morning from Orlando Regional Medical Center and returned to his home in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Guerrero hit the outside wall at the exit of Turn 2 Thursday at Walt Disney World Speedway.
NOTE: Thursday's report erroneously listed Guerrero's car as the Pagan
Racing Lola. The car was a 1994 Reynard/Ford-Cosworth.
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