Drivers ponder why cars didn’t go airborne during the Indianapolis 500

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The biggest question about the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 lacked a definitive answer, but the field of 33 drivers certainly didn’t mind being asked about it.

After four crashes involving cars that got airborne or flipped on the 2.5-mile oval during the past two weeks, why weren’t there thankfully any such incidents Sunday?

It certainly wasn’t a lack of accidents. With six caution flags gobbling 47 laps, it was the most laps run under yellow since 61 in 2009, and 10 cars were involved in incidents.

Though several cars, most notably Tony Kanaan’s No. 10 Chevrolet, turned backward at high rates of speed as Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe did in practice and qualifying, none took flight. And aside from a foot contusion for Sebastian Saavedra, there were no injuries (Hinchcliffe is recovering after he lost a massive amount of blood when a part pierced his legs).

“It’s a very unfortunate thing to happen to me, but if I had to prove that we don’t flip cars anymore, here it is for the critics,” said Kanaan, who led 30 laps before his heavy impact on Lap 130.

IndyCar president of competition Derrick Walker told The Associated Press that it validated the circuit’s decision to make changes to slow the cars down in qualifying and the race.

“It showed the decision we made in qualifying made a big difference,” Walker said. “We had a great race. That’s the takeaway from today.”

IndyCar will race at Belle Isle in Detroit this weekend before a June 6 race at Texas Motor Speedway’s high-speed oval, where concerns are sure to resurface. Track president Eddie Gossage told Motorsports Talk that he planned to discuss potential changes this week with the series, and RACER.com reported IndyCar was considering a return to 2014 bodywork.

Some drivers, though, were encouraged the fix might have seemed as simple as slower speeds.

“Most of the people who got airborne were at high speed in qualifying trim,” runner-up Will Power said. “Maybe we should keep it always below 230 (mph).  That might be a lesson.”

That would be in conflict with the series’ goal of promoting an assault next season on the track qualifying record of 236.986 mph set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996, but Sunday’s scintillating finish (a three-way battle between winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Power and Scott Dixon for 15 laps) might change minds.

“We put on a heck of a show,” third-place finisher Charlie Kimball said. “You have to ask yourself what we’re here for. It was one heck of a motor race out there, in beautiful conditions.  I think that showcases what the Verizon IndyCar Series is really about.

Said Graham Rahal (fifth): “I prefer to not understand the crash dynamics and keep the thing pointed straight.”

Power has advocated keeping downforce off the cars at speedways such as Texas, calling that “a massive leap in safety” last week.

“I think you should be lifting at every oval because that makes you a better oval driver,” Power said Sunday. “It should be about the driver, not just a fast car.  I liked the fact today it was hard.  One of the hardest days I’ve had running the track there.  Rarely were you wide open (on the accelerator).  Only at the end when you were leading were you wide open.  That’s how oval racing should be. I think IndyCar needs to make the rules so it is that way.”

Sports imitates art with Tyler Bereman’s Red Bull Imagination course

Red Bull Imagination Bereman
Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Content Pool
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This past weekend riders took on the Red Bull Imagination, a one-of-a-kind event conceived by Tyler Bereman – an event that blended art, imagination, and sports.

In its third year, Red Bull Imagination opened to the public for the first-time, inviting fans to experience a more personal and creative side of the riders up close and personal.

As the event elevates its stature, the course gets tougher. The jumps get higher and the competition stouter. This year’s course took inspiration from a skatepark, honoring other adrenaline-laced pastimes and competitions.

“There’s a ton of inspiration from other action sports,” Bereman said told Red Bull writer Eric Shirk as he geared up for the event.

MORE: Trystan Hart wins Red Bull Tennessee Knockout 

Bereman was the leading force in the creation of this event and the winner of its inaugural running. In 2022, Bereman had to settle for second with Axell Hodges claiming victory on the largest freeride course created uniquely for the Red Bull Imagination.

Unlike other courses, Bereman gave designer Jason Baker the liberty to create obstacles and jumps as he went. And this was one of the components that helped the course imitate art.

Baker’s background in track design comes from Supercross. In that sport, he had to follow strict guidelines and build the course to a specific length and distance. From the building of the course through the final event, Bereman’s philosophy was to give every person involved, from creators to riders, fans and beyond, the chance to express themselves.

He wanted the sport to bridge the valley between racing and art.

Tyler Bereman uses one of Red Bull Imagination’s unique jumps. Garth Milan / Red Bull Content Pool

Hodges scored a 98 on the course and edged Bereman by two points. Both riders used the vast variety of jumps to spend a maximum amount of time airborne. Hodges’s first run included nearly every available obstacle including a 180-foot jump before backflipping over the main road.

The riders were able to secure high point totals on their first runs. Then, the wind picked up ahead of Round 2. Christian Dresser and Guillem Navas were able to improve their scores on the second run by creating new lines on the course and displaying tricks that did not need the amount of hangtime as earlier runs. They were the only riders to improve from run one to run two.

With first and second secured with their early runs, Hodge and Bereman teamed up to use their time jointly to race parallel lines and create tandem hits. The two competitors met at the center of the course atop the Fasthouse feature and revved their engines in an embrace.

Julien Vanstippen rounded out the podium with a final score of 92; his run included a landing of a 130-foot super flip.