It has been 24 hours since the ABC Supply 500 began, and many words and thoughts have been shared by many people about the NTT Indycar Series racing at Pocono. I think the series should still race there. Every track goes through a period where a few races in consecutive years have awful things happen.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has had several such periods. There have been calls to stop racing there as well. I recall in 1964 and 1973 in particular, some people questioned whether it was safe to race there. Yet, the race has gone on. The series has constantly worked to improve the safety of the drivers so that the sport can continue.
Pocono should continue to have an Indycar race. Changes need to happen, though. I’m not an engineer, but there must be some modifications in downforce or engine horsepower that can allow more separation going into turn 2. The SAFER barrier and fencing in that section of the track needs to be looked at. Is it possible to prevent cars from climbing the wall?
One argument I’ve heard is that Indycars have outgrown the track. I heard the same thing in 1962 when Panelli Jones recorded the first 150 mph lap. Can racing technology outgrow tracks? I’m sure it can happen, but I would think it might be more likely on an older road or street course. Pocono was built specifically for Indycar racing. The track is just one factor in making the race safer. It is probably the easiest part to fix.
More difficult to alter is the mindset of 22 drivers when the green flag drops. A 500 mile race is long and patience is a virtue. Drivers look for any opportunity to get ahead of an opponent, and go for any opening they believe to be there. One or two drivers will not exercise the caution needed at the start. It’s just how racing is.
If the series leaves Pocono behind, I understand if it’s for financial or scheduling reasons. Dropping a track because there have been too many accidents in a short period of time is not a good reason. There are ways to fix that problem.