Vasser: CART cars are as safe as possible
Posted: Friday October 24, 2003 2:42AM; Updated: Friday October 24, 2003 2:45AM
SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (AP) -- CART series veteran Jimmy Vasser has defended the safety of Champ cars following the death of Tony Renna, a driver on the rival Indy Racing League.
Renna, 26, was killed Wednesday during a tire testing session when his car hit the outer concrete wall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Vasser, entered in the CART Gold Coast Indy this weekend and the 1996 champion here, said the Champ cars were built to strict safety standards and went through stringent wind tunnel testing.
"The IRL cars are flat-bottomed cars and while I haven't seen the accident, I believe it took off in the air," said Vasser. "Our Champ cars go through all sorts of tests so they don't take off.
"But really that's not the issue right now. It's a terrible thing that's happened and I just want to offer my condolences to his family."
Outgoing CART chief executive Chris Pook said Renna's death underscored the danger of the sport.
"This is motor racing, anything can happen," said Pook. "There are no guarantees it won't happen to one of our guys. Tony Renna was as an extremely talented, nice and approachable young driver."
Family affair missing
For the first time in the 13-year history of the Gold Coast Indy, an Andretti or Fittipaldi will not be among the starters.
John Andretti won the inaugural Surfers Paradise race in 1991 and Emerson Fittipaldi won the following year. John's cousin Michael, son of Mario Andretti, took the 1994 race.
Both Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi's nephew Christian were regular fixtures at the Australian race. Emerson and Mario are now retired from racing, while John Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi, who broke his leg in a serious accident at the Australian race in 1997, drive on the NASCAR circuit.
Michael Andretti has a team in the rival Indy Racing League while Emerson Fittipaldi has one on the CART series, and is here this week for the race.
Mario Andretti was at Surfers Paradise qualifying Friday. He represents a major American oil company with an Australian subsidiary.
But four would be better
Rules often need to be spelled out, even if they appear to be obvious. "At all locations on the race track, race cars must keep a minimum of two wheels on any racing surface," said CART race director Chris Kneifel on Friday in a press release. Cars in Sunday's race will be restricted to 95 U.S. gallons of fuel and cars must pit at least every 19 laps of the 65-lap race.