Double-file restarts: there’s no turning back

IndyCar commentary — By on April 12, 2011 8:23 am

Robin Miller reported on Wind Tunnel on Sunday night that the drivers of the IZOD IndyCar Series plan to appeal en masse to return to single-file restarts for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this coming weekend.

Here’s one vote in favor of INDYCAR standing its ground.

The most obvious argument for keeping the restarts as they are is this: regardless of how the restarts are done, the initial start is going to be double-file anyway. If the drivers can do it once, why on Earth can’t they do it again?

But perhaps more importantly, reneging on double-file restarts now looks really, really terrible. It doesn’t matter to the occasional observer that these cars accelerate differently or can’t handle light damage as well as stock cars. All a casual fan will see is that the so-called fastest, most versatile drivers in the world can’t handle something that NASCAR drivers can.

The tweaks that were made to the acceleration point, the distance between the rows, and the starting speed at Barber weren’t perfect, but they were an improvement. If these attributes need to be adjusted for each track to make double-file work, that’s fine — very few people will notice.

But if INDYCAR takes double-file restarts away, even once, everyone will notice — INDYCAR’s detractors will make sure of that.

If the Series makes the drivers keep at it, it may take a few more tries, but they’ll figure it out. They’ll have no choice. And the ones who can’t get it figured out may prove to be more expensive to their car owners than the sponsorships they bring in. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A system that requires car owners to hire drivers who can hack it on-track may be exactly what INDYCAR needs.

And if some of the more experienced drivers are becoming too frustrated to want to continue under the current system, there are plenty of unemployed racers who would be happy to fill their seats.

This change should never have been implemented in the first place if there were serious concerns from any side that it wasn’t going to work. There can be no going back now without a great deal of embarrassment — not even temporarily.

Sorry, boys and girls. On this, there should be no takebacks. Suck it up, strap it in, and get out there and race.