I don’t really agree with Randy Bernard on a particular point. The only difference with the Las Vegas race, and previous other races on 1.5 mile ovals, was that the drivers were going three and even four wide immediately when the green flag fell. Apart from that, Las Vegas was a reply of the wide open and nose-to-tail racing that’s been happening since 1997. It’s no good clutching straws at fencing poles, the fundamentals of flat out, nose-to-tail racing is what needs addressing. Racing is very dangerous, but IndyCar racing on 1.5 mile ovals with the current HP and downforce is an accident waiting to happen – which so many accidents have sadly proved.
I can only imagine, but if you’re running at 220 mph with somebody right in front of you, behind you and beside you – you must have virtually no time to react to a crash. It’s simply ridiculous with open wheel cars.
IndyCar needs to be racing at short, flat ovals like the Milwaukee Mile, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Richmond. That to me would result in sustainable, safe-ish and exciting IndyCar oval racing. The turns are tight so that the drivers have to blend off the throttle or brake in the corners, making pack racing is impossible. Pack racing is a terrible spectacle as well, it isn’t real racing. The drivers stay pinned to the throttle and get told by spotters where to position their respective cars. Racing at a track like Milwaukee would bring back driver finesse and input of getting off the throttle and braking into corners.
Flatter tracks also provide far less grip than highly banked tracks, meaning drivers cannot maintain speed on a higher line whilst flat out – also eliminating endless side-by-side action.
The main problem is that the outgoing IndyCar wasn’t powerful enough, and had too much downforce in oval configuration – meaning it was pretty easy for them to go flat out. Racing at 1.5 ovals would actually work if the new cars were insanely powerful; I’m talking in the region of 900 HP. But that’s not realistically going to happen, even though turning the wick up on the turbo’s would be pretty easy. By having such powerful cars, it would force the drivers to lift off the throttle or brake for the corners – thus creating separation and genuinely interesting racing at 1.5 mile ovals.
But because more powerful cars isn’t going to happen; racing at short, flat ovals is the only way drivers will have to lift off the gas or brake. Indianapolis is the only big oval that currently works because it has flat and tighter corners than Texas, for example. It’s a sad situation for IndyCar, because racing at short, flat ovals is not financially viable without a promoter to pay the sanctioning fee’s – so it’s hard to imagine IndyCar returning to flat ovals any time soon.