Date: 15 Sep 96 01:36:09 EDT From: JPM Dillon <102044.3322@CompuServe.COM>
Greetings from Las Vegas Motor Speedway, day 2.
Saturday afternoon, awaiting the final IRL practice. I'm sitting in the shade of the Turn 1 Snap-On sign; I'll probably be here tomorrow too come race time. We've just finished the ShelCan race two laps early under combined red and checkered flags. Talk about a confusing combination! Of course, with a pace car leading the field around, the drivers didn't have to think about it too hard.
The ShelCans were the first racing cars today. Buddy Rice led the first half, followed at a short distance by Paul Dallenbach, Shane Millhouser, Bob Gardner, then a gap, then Mike Davies, Chris Horm, Bennett Dorrance, and Jerry Gillis all tight together, and then the rest of the field. About halfway through the race, Dorrance plowed through the new grass of the Turn 1 chicane and tore up his nose. Shortly thereafter a full course yellow was called, and cleanup trucks were dispatched to Turns 1, 2, and 3, but no reason was given. When I (Observer 1) asked, I was assured the delay was NOT for my dirty track.
A few laps later everything turned green, the cars mostly behaved, and the racing maintained its former order. However, Rod Mathis whacked the wall HARD at the Observer 5 station (Katie's Korner) and the driver had to be extricated before receiving a helicopter ride to the hospital. The car, driven by a Vegas local, left behind a field of debris and an extensive fuel spill, so finally the operating steward chose to display the two flags mentioned earlier.
Earlier today we had qualifying for all the groups. The FF2000 session was hectic, with cars going everywhere. Eventually Ira Fierberg, who'd been missing the chicane and cruising the oval all weekend, finally made it through the chicane, then spun the car and thumped the wall at Turn 2, prompting a slightly early checkered flag. The Mazdas played hard and hearty too. I've been teased about the number of calls from my station, but Katie's calls, though few, have been high intensity. She's called at least three Maydays today; let it be noted though that she carefully used the newly-ordered "Alert" word. Who says you can't teach a not-as-young dog new tricks?
It's hotter here today, but clear and sunny. Yesterday we enjoyed a breeze all day along with cloud cover that kept us cool and comfortable. We'd heard the weather steward took a day off to gamble in the city; we hope he returns tomorrow, at least for the morning sessions! (Once the IRL cars take the course, we can stand down and seek shade.) Mostly unrelated: several flaggers have noticed that the USAC officials seem to be, ahem, chronologically challenged. Those Observers I've talked to see to be a friendly bunch. I asked one how he got started. He said his dad began at Indy MS back in '36, hence his involvement.
Not much more to report now; I may add a bit after the Formula Mazda race. Right now we're just watching the USAC micro-inspection team walk the course before IRL comes out. Oh, yeah... my Desert Flagging Association T-shirt has witnessed the birth of yet another track.
The Formula Mazda race, even more exciting than expected, featured close action throughout the field. Richard Stephens won the thing, with only one full course yellow to bunch the field. It was called for two cars piling into Turn 1 and only one leaving. I don't have results for you because they're still provisional--lots of passing under yellow during a late race incident, again in Turn 1, and related protests.
Another observation about the "American" IRL series.... the race is measured in kilometers, not miles.... it's a 500K event.
Driver update: the last we heard tonight was that Rod Mathis was in critcal condition with a broken neck. He was supposedly undergoing surgery when we left the track. I know there are plenty of prayers and hopes winging his way across the ether.
Here are the ShelCan results. Buddy Rice, Shane Millhouser, Paul Dallenbach, Bob Gardner, Chris Horm, Mike Davies, J. Robert Young, W. Jerry Gillis, Jeff Tyler, Gary Tiller, Bill Dollahite, Gaylen Schmidt, Ralph Romero, Ray Ritchie, Yoichi Akase, Rod Mathis, Bennett Dorrance, Judd Jackson, Scott Zanetti, Sherif Fathy (NDS).
The FF2000 grid top five are: Steve Knapp, Andrew Bordin, Peter MacLeod, Duncan Dayton, and Alex Barron.
Remind me to curse radios later.... The track provided our radios for this event, but we had lots of battery problems on Friday, and more today, compounded by the fact that they didn't recharge the radios last night. Further, the track manager is apparently dealing with a radio provider that will not swap out batteries without having the radios attached. Nor will the radio guy allow additional battery packs to be distributed. We were told that tomorrow we might be able to swap a half dozen batteries, but we can't get replacements for all the radios. Hopefully they'll at least get charged tonight. We only have to support one practice session and one race, so we should get by.
More tomorrow or Monday....