Indycar-Standing Starts? Ask the Drivers

From the onset of development for the DW12, the designers set forth to build a car not only powerful enough to create new speed records at The Brickyard, but be agile enough to tackle the tight confines of Long Beach. The DW12 was to have enough torque to enhance Tony Kanaan’s famous Brazilian Starts at Iowa, but have enough balance to glide through the Alabama Rollercoaster at Barber. Indeed, the DW12 was designed to be the most versatile racing vehicle on Earth. So far, it looks like the engineers at Dallara have done a pretty good job at creating a well balanced race car. In fact, I dare say this year’s racing has been the best since the heyday of American Open Wheel racing provided by CART in the early 1990’s. The only difference is this time, the names aren’t Andretti, Unser, Fittipaldi, Mansell and Villeneuve, but rather Franchitti, Power, Pagenaud, Dixon and Hinchcliffe.

In the desire to create a versatile series, the DW12 was built with the capability of performing not only the traditional rolling start, but the more European standing start. This was achieved by adding a hand clutch to the steering column and enhanced anti-stall features. Certainly the technology is there now, but what about capability? Are the drivers up for standing starts? To test the waters, so to speak, I sent out tweets to any driver i possibly could ,asking for their opinion on standing starts. Here’s the responses I received.

Tony Kanaan @tonykanaan
“Not a fan at all.”

Martin Plowman @plowey
“I love standing starts. They add some extra danger and excitement. A rolling start is just a restart.”

Pippa Mann @pippamann
“Grew up watching standing starts, and loved doing them back home racing, so would be hard for me to say no! :)”

Graham Rahal @grahamrahal
“Not worth it. Not @indycar tradition in my opinion.”

E.J. Viso @ejviso
“Love them”

As you can see, there seems to be no general consensus amongst drivers as to if standing starts should be implemented or not. I honestly didn’t expect Tony Kanaan to be in favour of standing starts, since that would rule out his traditional “Brazilian Starts.”  As typical, it seems the drivers with more of a European background (who grew up with standing starts) prefer the standing starts. Those who come thrugh the American system like rolling starts. In fact, I can only think of one North American series that utilizes standing starts, and that’s Star Mazda.

From where I stand, this is the perfect situation for Indycar to come up with a creative and innovative solution.

First of all, standing starts should only be an option for road and street courses. I believe that is something almost everyone is in agreement on. Secondly, just as how the Pole Winner currently gets to choose between the inside or outside starting positions, what if the pole winner got to choose between standing or rolling starts? Can you imagine the last minute qualifying drama that would create? Could you picture Tony Kanaan and say, Will Power, shooting out in the last two minutes of quals, trying to determine who gets their way at the start of the race? This gives the drivers another incentive to perform in qualifying.  I believe we all agree that the true racing should be left in the hands of the drivers. Why not exemplify this by letting the drivers themselves decide how to start the race.

The discussion regarding standing starts has cooled a bit in the past few months. I seem to recall at one point, Beaux Barfield discussed trying standing starts later in the 2012 season, but that time has come and gone. If Indycar really wants to generate some excitement, why not put some key race decisions into the hands of the drivers? Let the drivers race to their strengths. If someone’s strength happens to be standing starts, givethem the opportunity. Come on Indycar. You can be really innovative with standing starts. Put the decision into the hands of those who have to deal with it.

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2 Thoughts to “Indycar-Standing Starts? Ask the Drivers

  1. Brian McKay

    Food for thought and discussion, certainly.
    I’d prefer to see all cars lined up properly for starts rather than strung-out over 1/3 mile.
    And why can’t a superspeedway, 2 – 2.5 miles, host standing starts?

  2. The rolling starts have improved this year, I credit Barfield, there’s nothing like the roar of a tightly packed rolling start!
    But especially in this era of accentuating Indycar’s variety, at least two street courses should be a standing start. Pick St Pete and another one that has slow turns before the flag.

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