Swift support comes for IMSA Safety Team after report it may go away

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One of the details yet to be finalized as the new-for-2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship works to integrate and blend assets from both the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and American Le Mans Series is how safety response will be determined for accidents.

ALMS has used a traveling safety team from sanctioning body IMSA, while GRAND-AM, like others in the NASCAR family of series, tend to use local workers at each track.

Per a report by John Dagys for SportsCar365.com on Tuesday, IMSA’s Safety Team may not be retained into 2014, after Dagys spoke with IMSA Safety Team Coordinator John Zilles. The rest of Dagys’ report is a must-read.

And immediately after the story broke, reaction was swift and decisive on social media. The hashtag #ISupportTheIMSASafetyTeam has nearly gone viral – it certainly has made the rounds among IMSA and ALMS drivers, series participants and fans in the last 24 hours or so.

Here’s just a handful of driver tweets:

Sports car racing this year has had to deal with two major losses, with Allan Simonsen’s passing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Sean Edwards’ accident while in the passenger’s seat during a training session last week.

Although neither occurred in a GRAND-AM or ALMS event, the impact and reverberations have been felt deeply in both series. The ALMS drivers, in particular, have a needed peace of mind and comfort level with the IMSA Safety Team from seeing them on a regular basis; the safety workers, too, have a vested and dedicated interest in knowing how to handle an accident based on the different types of cars.

ALMS is not alone in having a traveling crew. IndyCar’s Holmatro Safety Team is widely considered the gold standard in North American motorsports and thanks to the efforts of Drs. Steve Olvey, Terry Trammell and Michael Olinger, among others, over the years, countless drivers’ lives have been saved and severe injuries prevented.

The counter-argument which must be taken into account is that the TUDOR Championship, now fully under the NASCAR umbrella for 2014, could open a Pandora’s Box for the rest of NASCAR if the traveling safety team continues.

That’s a question for another day but you’d want to think that NASCAR, which to its credit has made tremendous safety and car advancements in the last dozen years anyway since Dale Earnhardt’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500, would not scoff at the suggestion that traveling safety teams for other NASCAR championships could be a benefit.

This will be a very important issue to follow over the next several weeks.

Hinch boldly “goes” where many drivers have gone before

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One of the most common questions racing drivers face is “What happens if you have to use the bathroom when you’re driving?”

And the most common answer is “You just go.” While admittedly a little disgusting, it is nonetheless a problem that occasionally surfaces, and an innumerable amount of drivers have done so in their careers.

However, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe apparently had never found himself in such a predicament in his career. That is, until Sunday in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

While under the first red flag for rain, Hinchcliffe started to receive “nature’s call.” Unable to get out of the car to use a restroom – drivers had not been permitted to get out of their cars – Hinchcliffe was forced to wait and hold it.

But when the cars briefly took to the track again prior to a second red flag, it became too much to handle, and Hinch was forced to “relieve himself” while circulating under caution.

“I always maintained that I knew at some point in my career it would happen,” he quipped to NBCSN’s Kevin Lee.”

He added, “I was sitting there under that first red (flag), just begging to get three minutes. That’s all you need, (steering wheel off to wheel on). And when we got going again, my legs were shaking, I had to go so bad. I’m like ‘I can’t drive a race car like this.’ So under caution, it took me a full lap, it was one of the least comfortable experiences of my entire life, but I can officially say I’ve joined the likes of Will Power, Dario Franchitti, and other greats that have peed themselves in their suit.”

Social media reaction added to the moment’s hilarity, with SPM and teammate Robert Wickens weighing in.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal also chimed in, coming to Hinchcliffe’s defense.

Hinchcliffe, fully refreshed, will restart the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in fifth when racing resumes on Monday.

Follow@KyleMLavigne