1999 VisionAire 500K

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United States 1999 VisionAire 500K
Race details
Charlotte Motor Speedway diagram.svg
The layout of Lowe's Motor Speedway, where the race was held
DateMay 1, 1999
Official nameVisionAire 500K
LocationLowe's Motor Speedway
CoursePermanent racing facility (oval)
1.500 mi / 2.414 km
Distance79 laps
118.500 mi / 190.707 km
Scheduled Distance208 laps
312.000 mi / 502.115 km
Pole position
DriverGreg Ray (Team Menard)
Time24.320, 222.039 mph (357.337 km/h)
Podium
FirstNone, race was abandoned after 79 laps
SecondN/A
ThirdN/A

The 1999 VisionAire 500K was on held May 1, 1999, at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It was to have been the third round for the 1999 Indy Racing League; due to spectator fatalities, it was abandoned after 79 laps and removed from official series records.

Report[edit]

Qualifying[edit]

Despite failing pre-qualifying inspection, which allowed him to run only one qualifying lap as opposed to the usual two, Greg Ray rebounded to score the pole position, his second consecutive pole of the season.[1]

Race[edit]

On lap 62, Stan Wattles crashed after suffering a suspension failure. John Paul Jr. made contact with debris from Wattles' car, sending the latter's right rear wheel and tire assembly into the grandstands. Scott Harrington also spun in the incident.[2] Three spectators were killed by the flying debris, while an additional eight suffered non-fatal injuries.[3] Due to the fatalities, the race was abandoned after 79 of the scheduled 208 laps. Track president Humpy Wheeler stated: "We've never done anything like this before. But it seemed like the right thing to do in respect to those who lost their lives up there."[3] Driver Eddie Cheever Jr. agreed with the decision to stop the race, saying, "My teammates and I are just full of sorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families. The decision to stop the race was the right one. We all leave Charlotte with extremely heavy hearts."[3]

In the aftermath of the accident, several safety improvements were made to the IRL racecars and the track. The IRL added tethers to the wheels of their cars in an effort to prevent them from detaching, while Lowe's Motor Speedway raised the height of the track's catchfence from 15 to 21 feet.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "One shot good enough". CNN Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 25, 2013.
  2. ^ "IRL: Preliminary Charlotte Crash Details Outlined". The Auto Channel. May 15, 1999. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Tragedy at the track". CNN Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. August 16, 1999. Archived from the original on May 28, 2008.
  4. ^ Thompson, Jack (May 31, 1999). "Suit Filed Over Charlotte Track Death". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
Previous race:
1999 MCI WorldCom 200
Indy Racing League
1999 season
Next race:
1999 Indianapolis 500

Previous race:
1998 VisionAire 500K
VisionAire 500K Next race:
None