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IndyCar fans who want the apron brought back to the Indianapolis 500 in 2019.

This petition had 43 supporters

Talk is cheap. And although the IMS has talked about bringing back the apron.(For NASCAR) and then trying to figure out, how IndyCars would race with the aprons. The fact remains. We fan's would like to see the apron brought back permanently, as would some of the drivers of IndyCar past, and future.

And I quote Doug Boles, IMS President and all around great guy. "It continues to be an internal discussion point "if not weekly then certainly monthly." Boles said he doesn't think the return of the apron can make IndyCar racing better at IMS, but there are some who believe it will help the NASCAR race. However, if installed, Boles said "it calls into question how to use it in the (Indianapolis 500)." Obviously, there are safety considerations with the potential angles of impact, so that must be understood before the first shovel goes in the ground. 

I am a firm believer that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And it is my feeling, that what we get in life depends on fans like ourselves to drive the message home on how important it is to us. Or for that matter, how against it we are on a given subject relating to open-wheels racing. After all, that's what petitions are all about. Most IndyCar fans I know think bringing the apron back would be a good idea. So do many of the former and current drivers, prominent owners, and a slew of Motorsports journalists and pundits. With this in mind, where is the disconnect between these parties (Indy’s stakeholders if you will), and the persons who have the ability to affect change?

Below you can read perspectives given by Mario Andretti, Donald Davidson, and Dario Franchitti

Indianapolis Motor Speedway/Turn One

Entry Speed (Without Draft): 232 MPH
Max G's: 4.3
Exit Speed: 226 MPH
Corner Length (Wall): 1407.25 feet
Banking: Entry: 5.40o Apex: 8.27o Exit: 5.14o

The Comments:

"All those Saturday night dirt tracks around America, most are a quarter mile. That's Indianapolis turn one. Each turn is the length of a drag strip." - Donald Davidson, Official Track Historian

"Turn One is not an easy wide-open. You turn in flat and have to keep it flat in order to gain lap time, but as you turn, you don't know what you've got. You're committing yourself to the corner at high speed, and you might get that big oversteer, a load of understeer, or you might not get enough grip and the thing will slide off the track. You're really going into the unknown." - Dario Franchitti, Indy 500 Winner, 2007, 2010, 2012

Mario Andretti-"When I was a rookie, there was a big dip in the middle of the corner; that's where a lot of guys would get caught out. You had to set up for that dip or you could kiss your car good-bye." - Mario Andretti, Indy 500 Winner, 1969

"I loved the apron. We were only supposed to go down there with two wheels, and I'd catch hell from (track superintendent) Clarence Cagle all the time. 'Stay off the apron!' I'd say, 'You know what? If it's asphalt, we're going to use it.'" - MA (Indy's Turn One included a banked and unbanked portion;the unbanked portion, called the apron, was taken out in 1992.)

"Look at some of my qualifying in '65, '66, '67, we were sliding around because there was no downforce. I was taking every inch of the track, white-walling those skinny treaded tires in the short chute." - MA

"It's supposedly been blind for years. European drivers have especially noted how Turn One narrows as you approach the corner, but most of all, it's blind. You cannot see the exit until you're at the corner, which must be daunting at any speed." - DD

"There's something about that corner. You almost don't get to catch your breath from lap to lap. Turn One at Indy ranks right up there with the great ones, for sure."- MA

"The architecture of the track is a little different on the entry into Turn One, which changes the way the car feels. That first part is very sketchy. There are some ripples in the track, probably caused by the Sprint Cup cars, so the car tends to dance a bit at the apex. And turn one generally has a tailwind, so when that becomes a crosswind at the exit, it upsets the car again." - DF


I have heard enough people complaining now on my facebook page "IndyCar Serious". As well I have heard in person while at races throughout the country how great IndyCar Racing at the Indianapolis Speedway was back in the day. And when I say back in the day. It wasn't really that long ago. 1992 when they got rid of the apron. 

They tell me that these were the days when drivers of daring, skill, and balls the size of cantaloupe dared to not just take two wheels under the white line into turn one! But felt the opportunity of driving under that white stripe into that apron of racing lorem was well worth whatever risk their might have been. The reward for stepping beyond that comfort zone outweighed the risk of crashing for most drivers in those days of the apron! Just ask Takuma Sato if he wished in 2012, that he had that apron when trying to get around Franchitti for the win! I'm sure you know the answer.

I am not for adding banking which some would tell you is the answer, and which would in turn, add a second groove to the track. Why am I against it? Because it would benefit NASCAR! And sorry, but it's already sacrilege to me that that NAPCAR series even races on our hallowed grounds! A slight added banking to our track would be more to their advantage, than it would be to IndyCar's. Some say as well that when the apron was there, that is also just added a second groove to the track. 

The apron was removed after 1992’s crash-fest, with what I recall as the explanation it would reduce the severe angles of hitting the walls. Of course those IRL cars with the half-ton gearboxes created a laundry list of injuries upon impact to dispel that angle theory. And now we have safer walls so there is no reason not to bring back the apron.There is good evidence that hitting the SAFER barrier hard isn't what hitting the dreaded Indiana concrete once was. Further, the acute angle argument for eliminating the apron never made much sense because if anything the additional distance between full wheel lock and the wall gives the cars time to scrub speed because they all know by now not to turn into the slide. 

The apron made for an extra passing lane and an escape lane when a driver’s car picked up a wicked push (see Gordon Johncock, 1982). Look at Mears and Michael in 1992 and just think of all the time Ruby, Rutherford, Mario cut the grass to make a pass. It was part of Indy’s makeup and it needs to return.

It is time to bring the apron back to prove the advancements in IndyCar safety, that have come to fruition since the release of the Safer Barriers, Han's Device, the DW-12 Verizon IndyCar, slower pit lane speed, and other safety related items in the IndyCar Series. 

Moments in INDYCAR Safety:

1911: Rearview mirror is introduced.

1935: Helmets are required. Today, they are made of carbon fiber, Kevlar or fiberglass with energy-absorbing foam.

1959: Fuel-retardant suits are required.

1965: Fuel cells are required. Essentially, the foam that prevents combustion in empty portion of fuel tank.

2002: Steel and foam energy reduction (SAFER) barrier — a soft-wall design intended to absorb kinetic energy during impact — is introduced.

2004: Head and Neck Support (HANS) Device, a head surround and attachment that prevents forward and backward movement, is introduced.

As well, “It comes down to the crash structure,” Kimball said. “On the nose of an Indy car, when you hit the wall, it’s designed to crush and absorb energy so that it isn’t transferred to the cockpit of the car. And in a road car, they have those deformation zones all over the car, so that in a crash, the people within the cabin of the car don’t absorb that energy. Those crumple zones are the

same concept and derived from the energy- absorbing crash boxes on racecars.”

Combined with high-density foam, carbon fiber tubs, the Head And Neck Safety (HANS) device and molded seats, this technology has greatly reduced any driver movement during a crash and thus reduced his or her risk. So much so that NASA uses INDYCAR crash data when designing its spacecrafts.

“An INDYCAR seat helped drive some of the space program design for seating and G-loading,” Kimball said. “All came from the fact that INDYCAR drivers were crashing and surviving without injury during these high-G impacts. So NASA came and said, ‘How do they do that?’”

Even more importantly, some car seat manufacturers like Dorel also use that data when designing the foam and padding used in child restraint systems.

Not all safety innovations are directly related to crashing, though.

“The tire companies learn a lot from tire technologies in their racing programs,” said Jeff Belskus, ’81, former president and CEO of the Speedway. “They continually apply that to the passenger car tires they produce.”
In addition to structuring cars to dissipate impact energy away from the driver, the walls surrounding the track are constantly evolving to do the same. After the Polyethylene Energy Dissipating System (PEDS) was found to create too much debris and torsional redirection in 1998, a new program was initiated.

By signing this petition you show that you not only feel the same way about adding this back to the IMS. But support the IMS, and the Verizon IndyCar Series,and will do what you can to make an impact upon attendance, and getting the word out on this. The Greatest Spectacle in Motor Racing, the Indy 500! This is not up for debate! You either would like to see the apron brought back. Or you don't like the idea. And therefore will not be signing this petition! Thanks to all of you that take the time to care, and make a difference! And I respect those opinions, and those of you who chose not to sign.

It is your choice now, and I leave it up to you. Bring back the apron! Or leave the track as it is! We can't complain later, if we do nothing to make change now!

Paul Palmieri- IndyCar Serious on facebook, and twitter email:

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