Subject: Vegas - IRL weekend

IRL at Las Vegas - End of Day 1

copyright 1996 John Dillon

Friday is in the history books, and a new racetrack is making headway. Las Vegas Motor Speedway, though still under construction, successfully hosted its first day activities. We started out only 38 minutes late and ended up reasonably early.

Flag Chief Martin Lotz is doing a great job with organizing his limited staff, while Joanne Jensen is doing well as Race Control. Mike Mahoney is assisting Joanne and is also wearing an IRL shirt this weekend. Other names you might recognize are Bill Haneline, Bill Lee, the LaDukes, Gene and Lois Peterson, Jerry and Donna England, the two Jim Wilsons, Martha Leslie, and Kathy Brown. Katie and Vern Jaques will be here tomorrow.

The race track is basically a D-shaped oval with a chicane for the non-IRL cars. The players are ShelCan, FF2000, and Star Formula Mazda. We saw 21 ShelCans today, as well as 34 Mazdas and 29 FF2000s. The last two groups promise to provide outstanding racing.

We (Las Vegas Region SCCA) are supporting all the races except IRL. We have two concencentric rings of workers. The observers are on the outside of the oval, while the flaggers are on the inside. All are working with radios, which means the usual radio problems like batteries going down, signal shadows, etc, inability to override, etc.

Linda Haneline (San Diego Flag Chief) is flagging at Turn 1 with Tom McKeown; I'm the observer at Turn 1 along with Bob Who's-Last-Name-Escapes-Me from Vegas. Turn 1 is the only real turn on the course for our groups; it's a chicane to take the cars from the front straight apron to the pit lane road, which these three groups use for most of the course. The original plan was for there to be an additional chicane in the back half of the oval, but the drivers vocalized their objections successfully and it's not in use. We've had a fair amount of activity in Turn 1--the usual spins, off-and-ons, etc, but otherwise quiet. A few cars have tickled the wall in other corners, and Sharif Fathy thumped the Turn 4 wall sufficienctly to be transported to the medical center for precautionary observation. Fathy, a deaf driver himself, is sponsored by Deaf Motorsports.

Signs of construction are everywhere; the track does not lack for money, only for time. The executive suites are not complete, the race control section of the tower was stapled together only a day or two ago, and the electricians and phone guys were pulling wire through Race Control and the Command Post throughout the day.

When completed, this will be an impressive facility. Even now, it looks like it will be great fun. I know I'm enjoying my stint at Turn 1 so far.

More as it happens and I can find a phone jack....

John Dillon