Back in the CART original Indy Lights days, as Chief Steward I signed off on CART-issued FIA Driver Licenses. I reviewed the resume of one driver and had to go back and re-read it to be sure of what I was seeing. It showed the applicant as having raced F1600 cars apparently at the age of 13 YO and of his having won the F1600 Championship the following year at age 14. The resume continued with other activity up to his current age which was about 16 or 17 as I recall. His F1600 and other racing activity had all taken place in New Zealand. Everything was checked out and verified, he completed his oval test under observation and I then signed off on his license allowing him to compete in the coming year's Indy Lights Championship. He did pretty good and has had some successes since then as well. Oh yeah, it was Scott Dixon.
Another interesting application came in from a Johnny Kane who was slated to drive the Kool-sponsored Indy Lights car that year. Included in his resume was the suggestion that, if I needed to speak to someone who could verify Johnny's capabilities, I was to contact a fellow named Jackie Stewart as Johnny had driven for Jackie's son's F2 team the previous year.
There were a lot of very talented drivers who went through the Indy Lights program and who I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with.
I remember a Indy Lights Driver's meeting at Michigan Speedway at which the Lights cars were lapping at 193+ mph. The practise sessions had been very edgy and I asked the ChampCar Chief Steward, Wally Dallenbach, to point me to a couple of his drivers who could step up at the front of the meeting and explain what the results of chopping someone off after passing them created. What happens is that the air is taken off the wing and the car washes out with almost inevitable contact with the wall by one, or both.
The two drivers who came in to talk to them were Rick Mears and Gil De Ferran. They explained very clearly that disrespecting their fellow drivers that way would result in someone likely dying as a result - one of the very few times I have ever heard a driver actually say the word. The room was very quiet and everyone clearly got the message.
I finished the meeting and stood near the door as the drivers filed their way out. Two drivers passed by me who had clearly understood the message but were asking each other who the old grey haired guy was who had been talking to them. They were referring to 5 time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears and I could only shake my head.
Member: CASC (TSOA, St LAC)-1963/MCO-1967
MCO Past President: 1974, 1993, 2007-2010
1953 Meteor/1977 TR 7-V8/1983 Yamaha Seca 900
Multi-Certified InterProvincial Technician (310G, 310S, 310T, 717B)
ASE Master Automobile Technician