1997 Indy Racing League opener just two weeks away,
testing of the IRL's new chassis and engine combinations
for the Indy 200 continues at the Walt Disney World
Speedway in Florida, writes James Beckett.
manufactured by the British G-Force and Italian
Dallara companies, and engines by Oldsmobile and
Nissan, have been pounding the one-mile Disney Oval
in preparation for the big race.
Goodyear, driving a G-Force Oldsmobile for the Treadway
Racing team, has to date logged the fastest winter
testing lap at 168.145 mph, although he has been closely
followed by Calles Racing's Davy Jones who took his G-Force
Oldsmobile to a speed of 167.777 mph on January 7th.
winner of the 1996 Le Mans 24 hours, was also runner-up
to Buddy Lazier in a thrilling Indy 500 last May and
along with Rick Galles' team makes a welcome return to
competition in the IRL.
Goodyear and Jones have been a host of teams and drivers
who have made their way to the WDW Speedway as soon
as they have taken delivery of their new chassis and engines.
Luyendyk and Elisio Salazar were the first to sample the
V8 power of the Oldsmobile Aurora IRL engine in G-Force
and Dallara chassis, while 1996 co-champions Buzz
Calkins and Scott Sharp have driven G-Force and Dallara
Oldsmobiles for their Bradley Motorsports and AJ Foyt
Calkins, shown here in his 1996 car at the Las Vegas 500K.
Photo : James Beckett.
Grand Prix driver Eddie Cheever drove his own team's First
Plus Team Cheever G-Force Oldsmobile to a speed of 155.844
mph at WDW, while the sensation of last year's Indy
500, Tony Stewart, has been recording hugely impressive
times and speeds in his Team Menard G-Force Oldsmobile
used to running their own Buick based V6 engine at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, have adapted well to
their V8 task and Stewart will be a true star of
points leader Mike Groff has been the only driver to take
to the track with a Nissan Infiniti engined car, and
his Jonathan Byrd/Cunningham Racing G-Force chassis
No. GF01-004 was hampered by a small mechanical
problem which sidelined him after just thirteen laps
of the Disney track. Groff said after his run,
"We got a little later start than the other guys
but they've gone through it too. I'm kind of encouraged
about running further tests. We're learning as we