© Getty Images

Wurz: Closed cockpits ‘the most logical choice’

Leave a comment

Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alexander Wurz has become the latest figure to support the drive for the introduction of closed cockpits to single seater racing, believing it to be “the most logical choice”.

The debate about closed cockpits and driver safety in single seater racing has been reignited in recent weeks following the death of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson at Pocono Raceway last month.

Wilson was struck on the head by debris from another car that had crashed and died one day later due to the severe injury that he had sustained.

Other accidents for Felipe Massa (2009), Henry Surtees (2009) and Jules Bianchi (2014) have also prompted many to call for the introduction of closed cockpits to single seater cars, where drivers’ heads are currently exposed.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk, Wurz explained his involvement in the research into closed cockpits and expressed his belief that they would one day be introduced.

“I’ve been – me, personally, as the GPDA director – in the research group of the institute and we have looked into the canopy and everything,” Wurz said.

“I’m a big supporter of this idea. I always have been. I’ve been quite public a few years ago about it.

“And I think we’re all going to end up with the most logical choices to protect the drivers which is in the closed cockpit.

“It’s called ‘open wheel racing’ and not ‘open cockpit racing’. I think evolution will bring us there in the end.”

Wurz explained how the GPDA is continuing to push for improved safety standards in Formula 1 and global motorsport, with particular attention being paid to head and back injuries.

“It’s always in the spotlight and we’ve always pushed,” Wurz said. “We work very closely with the FIA institute on improving. But such tragic reminders such as Justin or Jules… just keeps accelerating the process.

“We still have a long way to go. We are a long way better than we have been, but it’s an ever-learning curve and currently full attention is on head and back injuries whilst until 15, 20, 30 years ago it was more you were breaking your legs when chassis were ripped apart etc.

“Now it seems we have to really pay attention to quite a few back injuries we have seen with impact forces and compression breaks, and obviously head injuries from Henry Surtees onwards to now Justin.

“So it’s definitely and area we need to look into, and we are looking into.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.