Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway for Race Day in the Desert. The sun is shining with a few picturesque clouds, the weather is hot with a nice breeze and all’s well at the track.
It’s a beautiful day to be out and about, taking it all in, cruisin’ in the desert. People are everywhere in the garages of the Verizon IndyCar Series, as well as checking out the IndyCar legends and USAC Silver Crown Cars. Tour guides are leading groups of people everywhere, showing the sights, explaining the intricacies of motorsports, and people watching. Here and there a driver, owner or celebrity might be sighted.
Dr. Terry Trammell is the IndyCar Drivers Medical Advocate and longtime member of the Indycar medical staff. He’s been providing trackside medical care since 1973 including orthopedic consultant to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and director of medical services for CART. He and Dr. Steve Olvey co-founded the CART Safety Team, and they are credited, among other things, with saving the life of Alex Zanardi when he suffered his horrific race crash. Trammell is a founding member of the International Council of Motorsports Science, and is a founding fellow of the FIA Institute for Motorsport Safety. He lectures on spinal injuries and conditions, and has written numerous articles in professional journals.
IndyCar was the first professional race series to institute baseline testing for concussions. This season Dr. Trammell, along with Dr. Geoffrey Billows, director of medical services at IMS and member of IndyCar medical team, and Dr. Michael Olinger, director of Indycar medical services, are working with and doing research on the latest iteration of this process. The three have been working with Dr. James Hoffer at the University of Miami on the VOMS test, which utilizes iPortalPAS goggles – somewhat similar to virtual reality. An interesting feature of the VOMS test is that it can’t be ‘gamed.’
The team started in January this year, collecting data from all the full-season IndyCar drivers, as part of their physicals. And the equipment, such as it is, now goes to all the IndyCar races so tests can be conducted on new or untested drivers by Trammell or Billows. Soon Olinger will be also conducting tests.
The collected information is compared, current symptoms to SCAT3. The test takes about 15 minutes and can be done on the sidelines. This test uses the goggles, and is not Operator-based, i.e. it is objective data on a computer, rather than subjective operator-based information. It is an extremely sensitive test in looking for prior problems. The results are sent to Dr. Hoffer in Miami for interpretation. It’s a system in evolution. The software and hardware are evolving, and the medical team is helping. Their hope is to integrate it into concussion protocol.
The breaking news of the moment is that the USAC Silver Crown points leader, Chris Windom who withdrew his No.92 Beast Ford car after it failed during Friday morning practice, found another ride. As predicted by outside pole sitter, Kody Swanson/No.62 Beast/Hampshire. Santos’ words were “Just because Chris doesn’t have a car, don’t count him out. He’s done this before.” Windom will start from the back in No.2 Patrick Lawson/Mittler Brothers Machine & Tool-Rebel Smokers/Beast/Wesmar. Lawson had qualified the car in thirteenth position Friday, and Windom will start from the back. The Copper Cup Race is a 100-mile race, starting at 3pm local time/6pm EDT. Stay tuned!
For a fortunate few, Saturday morning was the chance for a hot lap in a 2017 Chevy SS with Jeff Sinden, who runs the IndyCar two-seater drive around program. New this year is the requirement that all passengers be outfitted with a helmet and a HANS device. Who knew! It was quite the experience. Thanks, Chevrolet!
The helmet was tight, so snug that I couldn’t fit my fragile curved metal glasses bow into the helmet. I needed my special, prescription motorcycle glasses. The HANS device was lighter and more comfortable than was the helmet. It attached at the back, and was not a problem sitting in the cushy car seat. I felt no discomfort or constraints from the HANS device.
Something new this weekend, added for the fan’s enjoyment, is Verizon IndyCar Pit Stop Practice for at 5pm local time, an hour or so before the IndyCar race. The Green Flag is at 6:30pm local time/9:30pm EDT.
The Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix race will be televised live on NBCSN, starting at 6pm/9pm. It also can be followed live on Advance Auto PartsINDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212, XM209, Indycar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app.