If you listened to this last week’s episode of the Openpaddock.net Podcast, you will know there was intense debate between the crew on standing and flying starts. I was all for implementing a standing start for the IZOD IndyCar Series, while my partners in crime were against it. I was also having the same debate with Mr. Dalbey from More Front Wing. The only other person that I have read who agrees with my stand is Robin Miller. That is a small victory though because he said he could go either way. Hopefully in this article I will be able to make my point and please remember this is just my opinion on the matter. Feel free to post your comments below and tell me just how wrong I am. This is also not an overreaction to St. Pete. I understand that St. Pete is popular for T1 crashes but this also happened last year in Brazil.
First we will look at the business as usual approach. Flying starts are very popular in American motorsport. Look at both NASCAR, INDYCAR, and ALMS. The top series here in the states. All three use flying starts to begin their races and it has been this way through most of history. It is an exciting way to start the race as the cars come barreling into turn one. The sense of speed is there and overtaking maneuvers are present. Unfortunately, with that sense of speed and overtaking, you have a high crash rate. The street circuit in Brazil, anytime the cars got to St. Pete are just two easy examples to pull from memory. I am not asking to toss the history book out by any means. I also think this is a bit less on the history books as well. If INDYCAR decided to go to a standing start, we would not have such a backlash like completely altering the month of May structure. Also, it is only for the start of the race. We would still get the double file flying restarts and regardless of what one thinks about them, they were the least of the issues at St. Pete. The flying start was the issue that cost so many great race cars.
Here is my position. I think that flying starts are a better choice for the start of the road/street courses. I am fully aware that a standing start that takes place on an oval is ridiculous. The standing start offers a couple of benefits. First is the safety issue. While we can say all day that we have the safest cars in the world, it does not change the fact that nothing is bullet proof. Bad things can happen on a standing start, but you are still taking steps to mitigate a car on its top or a driver nearly being decapitated. See Marco Andretti for both incidents. So I don’t buy the “safe” car approach. Second, the point has been made about trusting the drivers to start the race. See exhibit A. St. Pete saw a handful of cars taken out in the first corner. While they are fine racing drivers and far superior to anything I could even hope to become, they do not handle flying starts overly well. The standing start requires driver skill to get started and offers for some unique overtaking oppurtunities. You will not see a standing start parade into turn one. Are standing starts practical for these dated machines? No. Road/street courses are not practical either in these pigs, but they make it work. I would rather see the rule implemented in the 2012 season where we will have cars that can perform the start properly. Slower turn one entry speed equals better reaction time as compared to the flying start where there is none. Which in turn may save more race cars.
I am not trying to turn the IICS into a european series, but F1 does use it and it does work. Yeah sure there is still contact at some races, but that will always be present. The purpose of the standing start is to not eliminate crashes 100% but offer the drivers a better chance of surviving and being able to react to an incident. As St. Pete proved, flying starts do not offer that reaction and we had a group of drivers upset because they all thought they could win the race in turn one. Remember boys and girls, a 100 lap race is a marathon…not a one turn shootout. My points on each start are brief, but I am more interested in your opinion. Should the IICS move to a standing start in 2012? Or should we continue the flying starts that have produced a number of angry fans? Let us know below.