I awoke today to find my current test car, an Infiniti FX50S covered in a mix of autumn leaves and snow, a sight I’ve never seen in October here in Connecticut. But that’s not why I’m posting this. I spent the afternoon at a family party upstate, and while enjoying drinks and football, my uncle saddles up to me-knowing I am a fan of open-wheel racing, he a NASCAR fan. Despite our differences, he wanted to talk about the loss of Dan Wheldon-not so much the man, but as to why. IndyCars race at ovals-we all know that. His contention was the modern tracks are designed for NASCAR type racing and speeds, which are slower than IndyCar, and the series should restrict itself to road courses.
He’s not alone. I once read Michael Schumacher, one of the best Formula One drivers of all time, was asked if he would ever race and the Indy 500, and he dismissed it, calling the racing ‘suicidal’. There’s the story of Champ Cars at Texas Motor Speedway, where in qualifying the cars were hitting 230mph, and driver’s complaining of vertigo. The race was cancelled for fear the drivers would black out at the wheel. And these drivers are among the fittest people on the planet.
IndyCar is steeped in oval racing. I don’t see a need to cancel oval racing outright, but I think the powers at be at IndyCar should evaluate what tracks work, and which tracks don’t. In any racing situation there is risk involved. But my uncle’s feeling that there are ovals out there that IndyCars are simply too fast for prompts me to ask you, the reader, how you feel about the subject. Please let us know what you think!