IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-09-15

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- Sept. 15, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Briscoe's car responded as expected 2. Argetsinger to serve as Watkins Glen grand marshal 3. DeSimone to debut at Watkins Glen 1. Briscoe's car responded as expected:...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Briscoe's car responded as expected
2. Argetsinger to serve as Watkins Glen grand marshal
3. DeSimone to debut at Watkins Glen

1. Briscoe's car responded as expected: Shards of carbon fiber fell on the Chicagoland Speedway racing surface like confetti after the No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car driven by Ryan Briscoe disintegrated upon impact with the SAFER Barrier and retaining fence between Turns 3 and 4 early in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300.

Contact between the IndyCar Series rookie's right-front tire and the left-rear of the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing car driven by Alex Barron triggered the fierce and fiery crash that left the car in pieces and Briscoe with two broken clavicles, a fractured bone in his foot, concussion and a bruised lung. He is recovering at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

But the integrity of the cockpit -- an aluminum honeycomb reinforced on both sides by carbon fiber -- remained intact, which essentially protected Briscoe like a cocoon. His broken clavicles, according to Indy Racing League track safety coordinator Dave Brown were the result of the high G forces working against the HANS (Head And Neck Safety) device. Untethered feet led to the foot fracture.

"Judging by the ferocity of the accident, everything that we had anticipated the car to do did exactly as we expected," said Les Mactaggert, IRL senior technical director. "The chassis stood up well to the impact. There was some minor damage to the lower left-hand corner, which I think was caused by the top edge of the SAFER Barrier as the chassis came down, and some damage to the rear when it hit the track. But the inside of the chassis was completely intact, and from our perspective that's the important aspect because it's where the driver is sitting."

Brown, responding to the scene in Command 1, said the Delphi IRL Safety Team simultaneously attended to the driver and remains of the fire.

"Everything stayed intact, and he rode it out," Brown said. "All the energy-absorbing materials took most of the energy away, and did what it was supposed to. It was a pretty good methanol fire, which we don't normally have. The fuel pump, which is mounted inside the bladder (a flexible Kevlar bag that can hold up to 30 gallons of methanol) was pulled clear out and created a rather large hole in the bladder. The oil fire was fed by the methanol."

Briscoe was alert as the safety team extracted him from the tub and placed him on a stretcher to be evaluated at the infield care center. He was later airlifted to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., and was transferred to Methodist Hospital to be evaluated and treated by IRL medical personnel.

Mactaggert said reviews of the incident already have begun.

"As a general course, we take all the data from every accident, physically examine the cars, overlay the data of the damage the car sustained to see if we can understand how the structures reacted in specific circumstances," he said. "We'll improve the car (design) some more because it's an ongoing process. We'll spend as much time and effort as we possibly can to make sure that we move forward in making the safety of the cars one of our major priorities."


2. Argetsinger to serve as Watkins Glen grand marshal: Cameron R. Argetsinger, a road-racing enthusiast who brought auto racing to Watkins Glen in 1948, was named the grand marshal for the Inaugural Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Argent Mortgage.

Argetsinger will give the command to start engines prior to the 60-lap race on the historic long-course at Watkins Glen International on Sept. 25. It will be the first race for the IndyCar Series at Watkins Glen.

"I am gratified personally, and I know that fans of The Glen feel the same, to see open wheel, single-seater racing return after 24 years," said Argetsinger, the current President of the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen. "The first lap of the first Watkins Glen race in 1948 was led by George Weaver in his Grand Prix, single-seater, open-wheeled Maserati. That opening lap spectacle gave The Glen fans a taste of what was to follow with the United States Grand Prix, run here from 1961 to 1980. And here it is again."

Watkins Glen International is also honoring Argetsinger's legacy in Watkins Glen by titling the winner's trophy the "Cameron R. Argetsinger Trophy." Each year the race champion at The Glen will be added to the nameplate at the base of the trophy. A sterling-silver replica will be awarded to each race winner.


3. DeSimone to debut at Watkins Glen: Rocco DeSimone will become the third young, American driver to debut in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series in as many races Sept. 25 when he competes in the Corning 100 at Watkins Glen International.

DeSimone, a 22-year-old Rhode Island native, will drive the No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry around the 11-turn, 3.37-mile natural terrain road course.

"I looked at the Menards Infiniti Pro Series when it first got started, but it didn't offer any road courses at the time," DeSimone said. "When I heard about the opportunity to race at Watkins Glen this year, I jumped on it. I really made a big effort to get into it. This is my closest race to home. I should have a lot of friends and family there. If all goes well, hopefully it will lead to a ride for next year."

DeSimone began racing go-karts competitively at age 13 and transitioned into formula cars at age 16. In 2003, he finished third in SCCA National Formula Continental competition with two victories, three seconds and three pole positions. He finished second at Watkins Glen.

He recently completed two tests in the 420-horsepower Menards Infiniti Pro Series car.

"Rocco made it abundantly clear that he is ready to compete at this level," said Michael Crawford, team manager for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "He was quick, professional, and gave great feedback in the time we spent together. We think he has a great future in the series and look forward to showcasing his talents at Watkins Glen."

DeSimone joins Sarah McCune and Bobby Wilson as drivers who have debuted in the last three races. Wilson, a 23-year-old from Oconomowoc, Wis., started second in his debut at Infineon Raceway. McCune, a 26-year-old Ohio native, won the pole position in her debut at Chicagoland Speedway.


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix Presented by Argent Mortgage at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. The race will be broadcast by ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The race broadcast also will be carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 152 (XM Extreme). The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Corning 100 on Sept. 25 at Watkins Glen International. It will be telecast by ESPN2 at 3 p.m. on Sept. 29.


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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Sarah McCune , Bobby Wilson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing