Craig Murto

Craig Murto

One inescapable fact is that racing is dangerous, and often incidents that occur in the sport are spectacular.

A couple of weeks ago IndyCar ran at Pocono, a track that was actually built for IndyCar racing in the first place. The three corners at Pocono mimic tracks from IndyCar history: Turn 1 is Trenton, N.J., Turn 2 is Indianapolis, and Turn 3 is the Milwaukee Mile.

On the very first lap of the Pocono’s 500-mile IndyCar race, Takuma Satu showed some very poor judgment at 200 mph and triggered a spectacular accident that sent the car of Felix Rosenqvist into the catch fence and the driver to the hospital. Following the crash was a lengthy red-flag period for repairs.

The incident also involved James Hinchcliffe, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The accident was spectacular; they usually are when open-wheel cars touch tires and fly through the air into the catch fence. But what’s interesting in this day and age is that the result is a loud chorus of people calling for Pocono to be taken off the IndyCar schedule.

Did I mention that the track was built for IndyCar racing?

Let’s get some perspective. IndyCar competed at Pocono from 1971 through 1987, and every year since its return in 2013. During that period of time there was one fatality in an IndyCar race at Pocono.

The spectacular crashes of the past few years have been occurring in Turn 2 at Pocono, which is a duplicate of the four corners at Indianapolis. In the years that IndyCar has raced at Pocono, four souls were lost at Indy. But you do not hear cries from fans to take the Indy 500 off of the IndyCar schedule.

Is the Pocono IndyCar race viable from an economic viewpoint? That’s for IndyCar and the track to know and has nothing to do with whether the race is dangerous. In fact, given the statistic presented here, Pocono obviously is no more dangerous than Indianapolis. If anything, it has a better safety record.

At the end of the long day at Pocono, Penske Racing driver Will Power scored the win, making 2019 his 13th straight season with a visit to Victory Lane.

Be sure to head on over to Summit Point (West Virginia) Motorsports Park over the Labor Day weekend. It is a double Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) event, meaning that Saturday will be qualifying races with feature races both Sunday and Monday.

I would plan to be at the track by 9 a.m. to get your fill of action. And there really is no excuse not to go, since there is no charge for admission and no charge for camping. How can you beat free racing?

In fact, while at the track, be sure to talk to the SCCA officials during the little bit of downtime between races. It is a volunteer organization, and there are plenty of jobs that need filled in order for a race weekend to occur. It’s a great way to become involved with local racing. Everybody doesn’t get to strap into a racecar, but everybody makes the show happen.

Young people today don’t realize just how lucky they are. When I was a child, our TV exposure to motorsports usually was 20 minutes of a race broadcast during Wide World of Sports on a Saturday afternoon.

Now I can flip through my cable guide and find dozens and dozens of various motorsports events on numerous cable channels. It seems everybody wants to attract the motorsports crowd. Back in the day, we would have thought we’d died and gone to heaven.

Resist the temptation to get all of your motorsports fix from TV. Nothing beats the actual experience. Dirt Late Models at Winchester or Hagerstown are a lot better than watching dirt Late Models on TV. SCCA racing at Summit Point beats watching on TV, especially for the cost of admission.

Then again, the fix you get from TV can be fantastic. Especially when it’s IndyCar’s final oval race of the year at the Gateway facility in Madison, Illinois. Talk about the highest of highs after the lowest of lows!

Sometimes racing can be as dramatic as it is dangerous. Takuma Sato was the bad name on everybody’s lips all week after triggering the Pocono crash. So what does he do at gateway? He goes on and wins the race!

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.