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Another Plea To Adopt IRL Rules For Indy Lights

Wouldn't it be great if you looked forward to watching an Indy Lights race?

I don't think Indy Lights is working for the average fan, nor is it working as a development series. Let's face it. When Pat Patrick travels to Europe and Bobby Rahal is quoted as saying that Formula 3000 drivers have what it takes, it is time to do something about the Indy Lights.

I just received my ticket renewal from Nazareth. Having previously heard that the Lights would not be appearing, I found that International Speedway Corporation has replaced the Lights with a USAC Silver Bullet race. I can't really blame them. For the past six years the stands have been mostly empty during the Lights race. How can CART make this series more interesting and successful as a development series?

First step is to make the cars faster. The cars aren't fast enough at this point to tell whether a driver can cut it in CART or not. Need an example? How about the Deep Throttle poster boy, Shigeaki Hattori? Great in Indy Lights, not so great in CART. 'Nuff said.

So, how can CART provide these faster cars for Lights without spending a lot of money? Easy. Adopt the IRL specs for Lights. This is not a new idea and has been discussed in other forums. However, as more teams announce that they are going to compete at Indianapolis, it makes more sense. Teams with new IRL cars and CART teams like MCI, which also has a Lights team, would stand to benefit. So, all this is probably logical.

Yes, the cars could be slowed down with rev limiters like the IRL cars are now, if it is necessary. CART is already looking for a new V-8 motor for Lights, and an Oldsmobile is not that big a stretch from a Buick. If CART has made arrangements for the next Lights chassis, a deal could be made with the manufacturer, where the chassis must meet IRL specs. Those teams who already have IRL chassis could use them.

How does this make Lights more exciting? You now have teams using the same equipment as the IRL which means not only can the drivers develop knowledge of the cars for the big race at Indianapolis, but CART drivers may want to run a few races in order to get familiar with the cars in the same way that NASCAR drivers often run in Busch races. Wouldn't you be more interested in a Lights race if your favorite driver was competing? Some may say that IRL drivers may come over and run in the Indy Lights. I don't see how CART loses, and I think it would make the races more interesting.

One thing that CART has done for next season to make Lights more interesting is to add a race at Ralph Sanchez's new Aruba track. What is particularly good about this race is that it occurs after all the other open wheel series have ended. CART team owners will have a chance to see Lights drivers in action on a weekend when they are not worrying about their own teams.

What could be fantastic here, and I think Ralph Sanchez is just the man to make it happen, is that with upgraded cars and the other open wheel series concluded, we would have the opportunity to see just about anyone run this race. Zanardi in a Ganassi Lights? Villeneuve in a Player's Lights? Greg Ray? Tony Stewart? Robby Gordon? Al Unser Jr.? Eddie Cheever? The possibilities are endless.

Would you be willing to watch a race like that? I know I would. Don't you think it would add to the rest of the series and CART? So why isn't CART doing it?

CART and the rest of us would not have to talk and talk about reunification. We would have everything we need.

Copyright © 1999 by Philip Larsen and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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