IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2005-03-31

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- March 31, 2005 Today's IRL headlines 1. Firestone To Sponsor "Fast Six Qualifying" Session 2. Delphi's New Local Caution System Offers Next Safety Breakthrough For IRL 3. Red Bull Cheever Racing featured on...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Firestone To Sponsor "Fast Six Qualifying" Session
2. Delphi's New Local Caution System Offers Next Safety Breakthrough For IRL
3. Red Bull Cheever Racing featured on National Geographic Channel

1. Firestone To Sponsor "Fast Six Qualifying" Session: As part of its unique and entertaining road course qualifying procedure the IndyCar Series has teamed up with Firestone to present the "Firestone Fast Six Qualifying" session.

At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying, there will a 10-minute break for adjustments, then the "Firestone Fast Six Qualifying" featuring the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session designed to give each car the opportunity to better its qualifying time. Cars will be spaced in 10 to 15-second gaps on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

The six teams involved in "Firestone Fast Six qualifying" will receive an extra set of Firestone Firehawk race tires for use during the 10-minute European-style qualifying session to decide the first three rows for each race.

"We're excited that Firestone has embraced our innovative road-course qualifying format," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president, business affairs for the Indy Racing League. "Firestone Fast Six qualifying will add the drama and all-out competition that makes up the IndyCar Series."

Firestone has participated in every IndyCar Series event as a tire supplier since the league's first race in 1996. In 2002, Firestone became the official tire of both the IndyCar Series and the Menards Infiniti Pro Series^Ù, and is also the official tire of the Indianapolis 500® Mile Race, where Firestone-equipped drivers have won 55 times ¬¬-- more than all other tire manufacturers combined.

"The Firestone Fast Six qualifying session is quite special and will add a lot of excitement to the race weekend," said Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone Racing. "Considering Firestone's position as the Official Tire at St. Petersburg, our 'Buy 4 Take 2' Firehawk tire sales and race ticket promotion, event hospitality and the Firestone Corner being the first right hand turn in the history of IRL racing, it is obvious the importance Firestone places on this event and market.

"Unique to the Firestone Fast Six qualifying, each driver will get an extra set of Firehawk's just for this session and using those tires to their to their maximum advantage will be a key factor in determining who starts up front. It's going to be very interesting for the teams, fans and Firestone."


2. Delphi's New Local Caution System Offers Next Safety Breakthrough For IRL: When conditions call for a yellow caution flag during IndyCar Series road- or street-course races, Delphi Corporation has a high-tech answer -- the Local Caution System, the next in a line of breakthrough motorsports safety products by Delphi.

The new system will debut at this weekend's Indy Racing League event in St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 3.

Indy Racing League (IRL) drivers already have a series of yellow lights flashing on ovals -- but on road courses, they rely on corner workers who lean into the track and wave warning flags to help warn drivers of hazards.

The new system uses wireless technology to help remove corner workers from harm's way.

With Delphi's new system, yellow caution lights can be placed at intervals around the track and controlled by wireless remote control. The control, enabled by Futaba's Industrial Radio Control System®, allows track officials to remotely operate the system at one or several locations on the track. Even in the event of loss of power at a track, the Local Caution System is powered by back-up systems and will still help warn drivers of upcoming hazards.

"Visibility of the caution light, along with having it in the same place at every corner, will consistently help warn drivers of potential hazards," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer, IRL. "Warning a driver of a hazard by using a remote controlled system is not only great for the drivers, but takes corner workers out of immediate danger from leaning over into the track and warning drivers to slow down."

"Drivers who helped us test the Local Caution System say the best part of the system is consistency," said Dave Brown, track safety coordinator, IRL. "They tell us a light in the same place on every turn is easier to see and react to than a flag which at some points is hard to see. Safety is our number one priority -- and this is another Delphi innovation that continues the company's commitment to safety in Motorsports."

"Safety first -- always," said Glen Gray, Delphi Motorsports technical operation manager. "Delphi engineers are working daily on systems like the Local Caution System that bring safety, visibility and consistency to the forefront of racing technology."

Delphi has been involved in open-wheel racing since 1988. Today, a majority of the vehicles in the IRL are equipped with several of Delphi's racing products, including:

Delphi Earpiece Sensor System -- measures dynamic forces to a driver's head during an accident. It uses small sensors integrated into the left and right radio earpieces worn by the driver. The six accelerometers -- one for each of the three axes on each side -- measure acceleration in the X, Y and Z axes during an accident. The combined data from the earpiece sensor system and on-board accident data recorder provide accident researchers valuable data for a clearer picture of what happens during a crash.

Accident Data Recorder (ADR2) -- senses and records key vehicle parameters at 1,000 samples per second just prior to, during, and after an accident-triggering event. It is a crash-hardened system that can record data from both the vehicle's internal sensors as well as information from the car's on-board data acquisition system. It can also be used to record data from external sensors like Delphi's earpiece sensor system.

Track Condition Radio -- helps alert drivers with critical information by transmitting messages from race control to racecar. A dash-mounted display communicates messages including safety warnings, track condition and pits opened/closed.

Comprehensive Safety Testing -- Delphi provides several testing services to the racing industry, including hydraulic sled testing and analysis at the Delphi Safety Systems Test Center in Vandalia, Ohio. Using one of the few hydraulic test sleds in the U.S., and information obtained from Delphi's earpiece sensor system and ADR2, Delphi can simulate a crash and provide feedback including information from on-board data acquisition, on- and off-board digital video monitoring.


3. Red Bull Cheever Racing featured on National Geographic Channel: Red Bull Cheever Racing will be showcased during a three, one-hour IndyCar Racer shows on the National Geographic Channel on April 7. IndyCar Racer is scheduled for telecast from 8-11 p.m. (EDT) and will be re-aired at 8-11 p.m. (PDT).

IndyCar Racer gives the viewer an insider's view of what it takes to win in the IndyCar Series. Each one-hour special puts viewers on the racetrack and in the cockpit for a revealing look at the strategies, technology and in the IndyCar Series -- where one hundredth of a second can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Audiences also will see first-hand how team owner and 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. operates during a race and how he manages his team's psyche in the pits and in between races. In each episode, we follow the footsteps of 2004 Red Bull Cheever Racing drivers Alex Barron and rookie Ed Carpenter.

"It's exhilarating and difficult. It takes a level of intensity that nothing else I have ever seen in motor sports does. I love it. It's my passion," Cheever said. "We have to win. We have no reason to exist if we're not winning races. You're not allowed to make any mistakes. Everything has to be perfect."


The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, April 3 on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. The race, the first non-oval event in IndyCar Series history, will be telecast live by ESPN and broadcast by IMS Radio Network at 3:30 p.m. (EDT). The race also will be available on XM Satellite Radio channel "XM Extreme" (Channel 152). The next Menards Infiniti Pro Series race is the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, April 3 on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. ESPN2's coverage of the race will be telecast at 3 p.m. (EDT) on April 8.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Alex Barron , Brian Barnhart , Ed Carpenter