INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001 - 1999 Indy Racing champion Greg Ray escaped injury Nov. 14 in a testing crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during his on-track debut with Kelley Racing. Ray, 35, was starting what was to be a...
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2001 - 1999 Indy Racing champion Greg Ray escaped injury Nov. 14 in a testing crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during his on-track debut with Kelley Racing.
Ray, 35, was starting what was to be a two-day "introduction" test when the rear end of his car came around as he entered Turn 1. The car then hit the outside wall, became airborne after its front wheels began sliding on the inside grass and did a complete roll in the air before landing on all four wheels.
Shaken but unharmed, Ray climbed from his Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone machine without assistance. "After impact, the back of the car collapsed," Ray said. "The car did a pirouette in the air and landed back on all fours. I still had the motor running, came to a dead stop, turned the motor off and crawled out. "Luckily, I'm in good enough shape and cars are of such high-tech construction you walk away from something like that."
Team general manager Jim Freudenberg agreed that Ray's fitness helped him avoid injury in the accident. Ray, who signed with Kelley Racing only two weeks ago, and Kelley veteran Scott Sharp are lean drivers who work out regularly.
The accident happened at 11:50 a.m. (EST), only minutes after Ray drove onto the track where he won the Indianapolis 500 pole in 2000. Freudenberg noted that Ray and former Kelley Racing driver Dismore, whom Ray replaced, have dissimilar driving styles and that one of the reasons for this mid-November test on a surprisingly warm Indian summer day was to begin assessing the setup changes needed to make the car comfortable for Ray.
"Greg knows what kind of car he likes to drive," Freudenberg said. "He's won a lot of races and a championship. I think he'll be instrumental in guiding us in the direction of where he's comfortable."
A complete car damage assessment will be made back at the shop. Freudenberg said there was heavy damage in the rear of the car and thought the gearbox, bell housing and the main plane of the rear wing would have to be replaced.
"The tub looks fine," he said. "Thankfully, nobody was hurt. That's the only thing we can't replace. All this other stuff is inmaterial." Prior to taking the car out for the first time, Ray revealed he was renting an apartment in Indianapolis to spend part of the winter in close contact with his crew, headed by chief John Worth and engineer Eric Bretzman. Ray's home is in Plano, Texas.
"This opens up a whole different door of opportunity to be part of a program that is a little more diversified," Ray said before the test started. "It's one I'm completely excited and thankful for.
"This is a last-minute test. It just happened to present itself as an opportunity, because there are a lot of new faces for me to get to know, and a lot of these guys to get to know me. As much as anything, this is about building chemistry, getting to know personalities and understanding articulation of what I mean when I say 'gray' and when they say 'black.' Every engineer, mechanic and driver explains himself in a different way, and you have to learn to define."
Because of the accident, the second day of testing Thursday was canceled.