Don't Let Facts Get In The Way

All of a sudden, the British national press has discovered something new: Indycar racing. Yes, that’s right, Indycar racing… born in 1911. They’re concerned, apparently, because Nigel Mansell, who has been largely responsible for the explosion of Formula 1 coverage within the tabloids, is contemplating a season “on the crazy American Indy circuit” (Robert Hardman, The Daily Telegraph September 16). Perhaps we should all fear for Mansell. After all: “A combination of street-type circuits, close back-to-back tactics and ridiculously dangerous overtaking techniques makes for a lethal cocktail”, or at least it does according to Hilary Douglas and Steve Acteson, writing in Today on September 14, 24 hours after Mansell had confirmed that he would not be defending his World Championship crown in 1993. If anyone can enlighten us on the topic of “close back-to-back tactics”, incidentally, we’d be pleased to hear from them.

For the benefit of those who spent their time, post-Monza, spouting uninformed rubbish about Indycar racing, we would like to point out that any form of motorsport can be dangerous. Indeed, 1992 has been one of the sport’s unhappiest years in recent history, with fatalities in Formula Ford, Formula 3, one-make saloon racing, rallying, Japanese Formula 3000 and, in the case of Jovy Marcelo, at Indianapolis. Even with the benefits of modern protective racewear, it remains possible to do yourself harm at 70 mph, never mind 230.

For many years, European-based racing folk have dismissed Indianapolis racing as being parochial and second-rate, despite the fact that the likes of Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi, F1 world champions both, have had to fight damned hard earning their spurs in America’s premier racing series. The presence of a current F1 top-liner in Indycar racing, if Mansell does indeed commit himself for 1993, will provide a barometer every bit as fascinating as the presence of reigning Indycar champion Michael Andretti in F1, at McLaren, next season.

Perhaps the same journalists who initiated the “Don’t let Nige do Indy because it’s dangerous” campaign might like to ask the incoming Andretti a few pertinent questions about his former career. They’ll learn that many lndycar accidents are non-injurious in the modern era of composite materials, and that the racing, which is not always fast, despite Today’s ignorant insinuation that they’re touching 250 mph on “street-type circuits”, is ferociously competitive.

It is very similar in many ways, in fact, to Formula 1. All in all, it should suit Nigel Mansell down to the ground. S A