NTT IndyCar Series to start season with new cockpit safety feature

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – “I think they say racing drivers have no fear but that is not necessarily true.”

They know the risks. They experience the fears. Yet, these drivers push those thoughts from their minds race after race because they have a passion for their sport.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 NTT IndyCar Series champion, summarized it perfectly.

“When we get in the car and go race, there is always these consequences for our actions, but you shut the visor down and you get the engine started and you have to kind of compartmentalize that,” said Hunter-Reay. “Set that aside and to a special place where that needs to be so you can perform at your optimum in the racecar.”

The dangers will always be a part of the job but, for the first time this year, the IndyCar drivers will have an added element of protection. The new piece of safety technology, which will surround the cockpit, is called the Aeroscreen.

IndyCar driver Will Power steers through a turn during IndyCar Series Open Testing, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Austin, Texas. Drivers have mostly praised the new Aeroscreen design, a safety innovation for driver protection in the cockpit. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

According to the official IndyCar website, it is “designed to reduce the risk of driver injury from debris or other objects striking the cockpit area.” The device will be different for the drivers but it seems they are in favor of it.

“We are going into a closed cockpit IndyCar, which is definitely groundbreaking,” said Hunter-Reay. “It is great for the drivers. We are the fastest closed-circuit cars in the world so it is good that we are taking those steps for driver safety.”

“That is a huge step forward,” said a rookie IndyCar driver, Oliver Askew. “Obviously, it protects the most important part of our bodies, which is our head, so that is going to be very exciting. I think the racing is going to be just as good if not better with that added protection device.”

“IndyCar is always working harder to make sure that our cars are as safe as possible,” said 21-year-old driver, Kyle Kirkwood. “They have proven that year after year now and, every time we go on track, I feel safer and safer so I am very confident that the cars are safe, the track is safe, everything will be very good.”

Although the Aeroscreen has been tested by these drivers on other tracks, every driver will have an Aeroscreen on their car at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.

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