F1 driver McNish tests IRL car, Toyota engine at California Speedway FONTANA, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002 -- Allan McNish, who drove for Panasonic Toyota Racing in 2002 during the first Formula One season for the team, tested an Indy Racing...
F1 driver McNish tests IRL car, Toyota engine at California Speedway
FONTANA, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002 -- Allan McNish, who drove for Panasonic Toyota Racing in 2002 during the first Formula One season for the team, tested an Indy Racing League car equipped with the new Toyota engine Oct. 21 at California Speedway.
"It was enjoyable," McNish said. "It's different than what I'm accustomed to. It's the first time I've been on a full oval circuit. I've been on Daytona (International Speedway) and Pikes Peak (International Raceway), where the road course uses part of the oval."
McNish, 32, from Dumfries, Scotland, worked with Toyota's Formula One team from 2000-2002, serving as a test driver in 2000-01 before competing on the circuit in 2002. McNish came to F1 after a successful career in sports car racing, as he won the Le Mans 24 Hours and Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in 1998 and won the American Le Mans Series title in 2000.
During the test at California, McNish drove a Dallara chassis equipped with a new Indy Racing League Toyota engine, which will make its debut in 2003. He completed 350 miles on the 2-mile, D-shaped oval. The car was prepared by Marlboro Team Penske, which fields cars in the IRL for two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves and two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran.
"When you are going well over 200 mph, it's sort of a different feeling," McNish said. "It gives you a taste of what it's like. I'd like to see what it's like with 30 other cars out there.
"It was fast. Having never raced on an oval outside of Daytona for the 24 Hours, I didn't have a clear perception of what it would be like. The Penske team was very good to me. When I actually got up to speed, the car felt very comfortable."
While McNish has not seen an IRL race in person, he knows plenty about the series.
"The races are on TV in Europe," McNish said. "It looks like it is really good wheel-to-wheel racing. I've known Helio and Gil since the early 90s. I met with Helio a few weeks ago when he tested an F1 car. When you know guys, you tend to keep up with what your mates are doing across the pond."
McNish will not be back with Toyota in F1 in 2003 and now is considering several different paths, both in North America and Europe.
"At the moment there are options on both sides of the pond," McNish said. "I wanted to try the IRL car to see if it was something I wanted to pursue, and I enjoyed it."