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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 06:30 GMT 07:30 UK
Race called off after safety fears
Dario Franchitti's Team Green Reynard-Honda on the Fort Worth oval
Drivers felt dizzy and nauseous on the Texas oval
Fears of drivers passing out at over 230mph have led to Sunday's Champ Car race in Texas being called off.

Extremely high G-forces at the oval track were causing drivers dizziness, nausea and vision problems on the Fort Worth track, which is new to the Championship Auto Racing Teams (Cart) series.

The unprecedented move came after drivers expressed safety fears to race officials following speeds above 236 mph in Saturday's qualifying session at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway banked oval.

"The G-forces were beyond what I could have ever imagined," said Michael Andretti, the most successful driver in Cart history.


This isn't something we could predict
  Michael Andretti
"You feel very compressed when you get down in the corners. Everything is just compressing your body. It's a feeling I've never felt before."

Cart president Joseph Heitzler said: "We are postponing due to concerns over the physical demands placed on our drivers when traveling at speeds of more than 235 mph on this 1.5-mile oval."

This was the first safety-related postponement by Cart since 1985, when tyre concerns delayed a race at Michigan International Speedway for six days.

This time, series officials were caught off guard by the impact of the 24-degree banking at Texas. No other track in the Cart series is steeper than 18 degrees.

Dr Steve Olvey, Cart's medical director, said extended exposure to the G-force felt in practice could have caused some drivers to lose consciousness during the race.

Olvey said all but four of the 25 drivers on the starting grid experienced some sort of inner ear or vision problems after running more than 10 laps at time. The others, including Andretti, did not go those distances.

Michael Andretti
Andretti backs the decision to cancel the race
Teams said the G-forces were above five, when a range in the threes is generally considered as high as drivers can endure for extended periods on oval tracks.

The event was scheduled for 250 laps on the 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) four-turn oval.

Leading drivers, including Andretti, Canadian Paul Tracy and Scotland's Dario Franchitti backed Cart's decision.

"At this point, I've got to really applaud CART for standing up for the drivers and safety and trying to find a solution and not going ahead with the event at this time," Andretti said. "This isn't something we could predict."

But the circuit's general manager, Eddie Gossage, criticised the governing body.

He said that the track had no input into the discussions on Sunday morning.

Criticisms

Gossage said safety questions were raised by track officials as recently as 10 days ago.

But there was no open testing and the standard accepted by Cart was the 220-224mph range established by Kenny Brack during a private test in December.

Brack earned the pole at 233.447 mph (375.616 kph) during qualifying on Saturday.

During practice sessions with most of the cars on the track, some drivers were lapping at average speeds as high as 236.9 mph.

Team Penske
Reigning champions Team Penske pack their cars away

"It should have been sufficiently tested months and months and months ago," Gossage said. "Both TMS and the fans are frustrated by what has happened."

Olvey said the first indication of a problem came on Friday when two drivers pulled off the track after long stints at over 230 mph (370 kph) and said they were dizzy and disoriented.

Widespread problems were discovered when Olvey met with all drivers after qualifying on Saturday.

Heitzler said Cart was considering rescheduling the race for later in the year.

He said there was no opportunity to make immediate changes to the cars or the racing surface.

But track officials indicated there was no available date to reschedule the event, meaning the race would be wiped off the schedule or moved to some other speedway.

The next scheduled Cart race is at Nazareth, Pennsylvania on Sunday 6 May.

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