(NUI) - Unlike so many U.S. roads this spring, there's a 2 1/2-mile stretch that's guaranteed to be in perfect condition. That's the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where approximately 100 cars enter each year to qualify for the 33 spots in the Memorial Day race.
Among the contenders for a slot in the 1995 race, Lyn St. James, was 1992 Rookie of the Year.
Getting the car to run at her 1994 qualifying speed of 224.282 mph is only part of the challenge. Keeping the car on the track is something else, according to St. James. "Ride control counts for a lot in racing, as well as in highway driving. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not banked as steeply as most tracks, so you need extra road-hugging ability and sticky tires to get you around those turns at qualifying speeds. If the weather and track temperatures cooperate and if the cars hold together, we may see a new qualifying record."
As Director of Consumer Relations for the Car Care Council, she compares certain aspects of race driving to highway driving. "Despite high speeds, we don't need to worry about hitting a pot hole or a rut on the race track.
"And we usually can expect the other drivers to use good judgment. Unlike most motorists, race drivers are skilled professionals who drive predictably, considering race conditions.
"Equally important," says St. James, "race drivers have faith in the mechanical integrity of their cars, confident that they'll hold the road and be responsive in an emergency: no loose steering, marginal brakes or worn, leaking shock absorbers.
"Four out of five cars driven every day, however, need maintenance ... a statistic we've gleaned from National Car Care Month inspections. Such a statistic in auto racing would be disastrous."
Underscoring the need for dependable roadability, the Car Care Council offers an informative pamphlet on ride control. It's free. Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Car Care Council, Dept. RC, One Grande Lake Drive, Port Clinton, OH 43452.