Drivers anticipate Cleveland night-race

Champ Car drivers are looking ahead to the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland night-race on July 5 with mixed views. Although the general perception is one of excitement, no-one quite knows what to expect of a circuit that is already notoriously difficult to establish visual reference points under braking

Drivers anticipate Cleveland night-race

"First of all, it was a great surprise for me to hear that we were going racing under the lights because I didn't know that we were racing at night in Cleveland," said PK Racing's new signing Max Papis. "When I found out, I said that this is pretty cool. I am one of the few guys that has experienced driving a car at night at speed, having just came out to the 24 Hours of Le Mans where you actually drive quite a long time at night.

"I'm not so sure how the lighting will be at Cleveland, but that definitely will make a huge difference in terms of being able to drive around the circuit. The biggest difference for me will be not having any lights on the Champ Car, so it will be more of the same feeling that we have when we race at Daytona in the 24-hour race. Even though there is going to be good lighting at the track, it is still going to be very, very difficult for a number of reasons.

"One thing that I've noticed is that you have reflections in the mirrors, and that's something that distracts you quite a bit because you are not use to seeing the car behind you in the way that you are going to see it at night-time.

"The other big factor will be the depth perception; it's pretty different at night. Of course, the lights are going to be up and it will be as close as you can have it to daylight, but the difference that it makes is that everything seems farther away from you and I think that it makes things quite difficult."

Champ Car rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay agrees: "Cleveland is so flat that even during the day it's hard to find your braking references and turn points at the apexes, because there's nothing really there, so at night it might be more difficult," he said. "We'll just have to see. Actually, at night with the light poles up, it might provide more reference points for us to use. As far as sight goes we'll be all right, and the light poles might actually help a little bit."

Hunter-Reay also reckons that the mixed-up running schedule will also take some getting used to. "The night qualifying and night racing throws you off a little bit," he said. "You're still going to wake up when the sun comes up - the only difference is you end up staying up much later than normal. These night races are a bit tougher on the teams and a bit harder on the drivers as well because of the later nights."

Because the Cleveland race is held on Burke Lakefront Airport, which is a functioning facility, the amount of time that it is closed for the annual event is limited. Musco Lighting, the company assigned to illuminate the circuit under floodlights, has less than 48 hours to erect 21 mobile lighting units before practice on Thursday afternoon. And the airport needs to be ready to return to its regular function first thing Monday morning. The company says that lighting the Cleveland GP course will require 23 times what it would take to illuminate a typical stadium for a football game.

Tyres highlighted at Autosport International
Previous article

Tyres highlighted at Autosport International

Next article

Darren Manning Portland column

Darren Manning Portland column
Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return Plus

Why romanticism isn't the key factor in Lola’s racing return

The iconic Lola name is being relaunched after it was taken over by new ownership. Part of that reboot is a planned return to racing, though the exact details of this are still to be finalised - though its new owner does have a desire to bring the brand back to the Le Mans 24 Hours. But romanticism doesn't appear to be the driving force behind this renewed project...

Jul 14, 2022
Rating the best drivers of the century so far Plus

Rating the best drivers of the century so far

Autosport's Top 50 feature has been a staple of the magazine for the past two decades since its first appearance in 2002. Here are the drivers that have featured most prevalently during that time

Jan 7, 2022
The best motorsport moments of 2021 Plus

The best motorsport moments of 2021

Motorsport produced one of its greatest years of all-time in 2021 despite a backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 challenges and an ever-changing racing landscape. Through the non-stop action Autosport has collected the finest moments from the past 12 months to highlight the incredible drama and joy motorsport generates

Dec 31, 2021
The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers Plus

The racing comeback artists who resurrected long-dormant careers

Making it in motorsport can be tough, and sometimes drivers move elsewhere before their best chance arrives. Here are some of those who made it back

Dec 26, 2021
The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes Plus

The hidden racing gem attracting ex-F1 heroes

It’s rarely mentioned when it comes to assessing the best national contests, but the Brazilian Stock Car series that reaches its climax this weekend has an ever-growing appeal. Its expanding roster of ex-Formula 1 names has helped to draw in new fans, but it's the closeness of competition that keeps them watching

Dec 10, 2021
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

Apr 21, 2021
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

Feb 27, 2021