Four of IndyCar’s best spend their off weekend, well, racing something else

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We mentioned earlier this week that Justin Wilson, of Dale Coyne Racing, would spend his off weekend from his day job in the IZOD IndyCar Series racing a sports car at Watkins Glen.

He’s not alone in trying out another set of wheels.

Dragon Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais (pictured) will race against Wilson in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series’ Daytona Prototype class. Bourdais, like Wilson, will race in a Ford Riley DP. Bourdais will drive for the Starworks Motorsport team with co-drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow.

Bourdais’ French countryman Simon Pagenaud, of HP Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, is also racing this weekend. He’s taking on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in his 500-plus horsepower Honda Odyssey minivan.

Lastly, NBC Sports Network IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is back behind the wheel this weekend. Bell is driving a 600-plus horsepower Ford Fiesta in Global Rallycross at the X Games in Munich. He’ll drive for the OMSE2 team with Royal Purple sponsorship; that’s the same team that will partner with Dreyer & Reinbold and SH Racing for an entry at the Los Angeles X Games in August.

The rest of the IndyCar community – who have been on the road non-stop since the weekend before Brazil, in April – are taking some well-deserved R&R this weekend.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”