You know, racing leagues – be they NASCAR or Formula One or the Indy Racing League – always hold a driver’s meeting before a race and one of the things they preach is:
Take it easy on the first lap. You can’t win the race at the first corner or on the first lap.
And the drivers all nod knowingly and agree with whoever’s conducting the meeting and then they go out and do just about exactly the opposite.
Find me an F1 race in which at least two drivers don’t collide on the first lap – and frequently at the first corner. NASCAR’s usually better but, guaranteed, they’ll have some sort of a pileup before long.
Yesterday at Infineon Raceway in California, the Indy car drivers got the green flag and by the time they’d gotten up the hill to the first right-hander, about six seconds after the green, cars were scattered everywhere. It’s a wonder that half the field wasn’t eliminated.
E.J. Viso was out of the race on the spot while Danica Patrick, Frank Montagny, Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay had to go to the pits for repairs either immediately or eventually.
Dario Franchitti started from the pole and went flag-to-flag for his fourth win of the season. Ryan Briscoe was second and rookie Mike Conway finished third.
It was not a terribly exciting race but it had its moments.
On Saturday, there was a nasty accident during practice and two drivers were admitted to hospital – Will Power with two broken vertebrae and a concussion and Nelson Phillipe with a broken foot and a concussion.
Phillipe spun and came to rest sideways on the track just on the other side of a hill. E.J. Viso came flying by and hit the front of the car; Power then arrived and t-boned Phillipe.
It sounds very clinical, reading what I’ve just written or what was in the Star yesterday. But if you see the TV footage, it was very, very violent and it’s a wonder that nobody was killed.