Photo courtesy of IMSA

Scott Pruett hails Action Express setup, car at Sebring

Leave a comment

SEBRING, Fla. – Scott Pruett is one of the greatest sports car drivers of his generation, so when he speaks volumes about a team’s setup and engineering, it is worth taking extra note.

Pruett, who this week shifts to Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP he’ll share with Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, said that the Action Express setup at Sebring International Raceway is unlike any other car he’s driven at this track.

“These guys killed it last year,” said Pruett, who raced for Chip Ganassi Racing last year and finished fourth co-driving with Joey Hand and Scott Dixon in a Riley-Ford.

“There are certain setups that teams develop that match a track really well.

“What they’ve developed here, is a rock star here. I’ve never driven a car this good here, ever.

“It’s just, you can drive it anywhere. It goes fast. Like yesterday I ddi my fastest lap with 25 laps on the tires and we were P1. It was magic.”

With Dane Cameron leading Friday morning’s fourth practice session – the last for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship before qualifying for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida – it means Action Express has completed a four-session sweep at the top of the timesheets.

Pruett, who raced the team’s No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP at the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque, is on standby for the No. 5 car this week.

Barbosa sustained a wrist injury in a rare, random hoverboard accident but is all good to go this week with his family on site.

“I’m on standby there,” Pruett said. “With Joao having hurt his wrist, because I drove the car at Daytona, I can get in and out of the car if needed. It’s more we wait and see how’s the wrist, and how is he feeling.

“I’ll be on standby if need be, but primarily in the 31.”

The No. 5 car won this race last year courtesy of storming drives from Barbosa, Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais.

This is Pruett’s last scheduled start with Action Express before the F Performance Racing program debuts later this year, likely at Detroit, with the new Lexus RC F GT3 he’ll share with Sage Karam in the GT Daytona class.

Pruett said testing should intensify on that program in April.

Also of note for Action Express this weekend is a newly announced partnership with SONIC Tools.

“When we made the decision to enter IMSA at the end of 2015, we knew we were going to have the opportunity to partner with some of the best race teams in the world. We believe that Action Express Racing has certainly demonstrated that over the past couple of seasons and we’re excited that they’ll be using our tools in their pursuit for a third championship”, said SONIC Tools’ Chief Marketing Officer, Colby McConnell.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
Leave a comment

Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter