WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway

Five IndyCar teams to test at Laguna Seca in February

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Several IndyCar teams will take part in a full day test at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on February 8, track officials announced.

It will mark the first time Indy cars have been on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course in 15 years.

It also will be the first of at least two tests planned at the iconic racing venue. The other test will be Sept. 19, just prior to the season-ending Grand Prix of Monterrey race weekend, Sept. 20-22.

The teams taking part in February’s test include Andretti Autosport, Ed Carpenter Racing, Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan.

“Laguna Seca is such a cool place and I’m really excited that the IndyCar Series is heading there in 2019,” said Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud, a two-time ALMS winner at Laguna Seca. “With the test in February, we have a lot of work to do to get our car in the right place since it is a totally new place for our team, but it’s an exciting challenge we are ready for.

“I feel like I have a bit of an advantage over the competition having competed and won there in the American Le Mans Series. It’s such a fun California track and I know there’s a lot of buzz around that race as it will serve as the finale next season.”

Laguna Seca has replaced Sonoma Raceway as the host track for the final race of the IndyCar season.

The five teams taking part in the Laguna Seca test will have very little rest afterward, as they will then be headed to Austin, Texas, and Circuit of the Americas for the first time for yet another test Feb. 12-13.

The Feb. 8 test will be open to the public, but there will be a $20 admission fee, which also includes paddock access.

If you’ve already purchased tickets for September’s race, it will only cost $10 to get into the test, while Laguna Seca season ticket holders will be admitted for free.

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

James Black/IndyCar
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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

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