Thursday, August 5, 2010

Alamo Teacher Drives At Indy

Mountain Mail reports

ALAMO NAVAJO Reservation - Students of an Alamo Navajo Community School science teacher may be surprised to discover that “Mr. Beres” is also an Indianapolis race car driver.
Through a promotion from Indy Racing Experience, David Beres found himself at The Brickyard behind the wheel of an Indy Car.
“These are the cars racing on tracks like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Long Beach, California or Watkins Glenn,” Beres said. “ They are built for one thing and one thing only, and that is speed. When you drive one of these cars you go fast. Really fast.”
Beres said he was told by the organizers to be at the speedway at 1:30 p.m., July 9, but he arrived early so he “could see what was going on, and to take advantage of being able to almost freely walk around the pit area at the Speedway.”
He was able to talk to some professional drivers, get close-up views of the cars, and “feel and hear the engines,” he said.
After a couple of hours, they called his name and the names of about 10 other persons.
“We assembled in a locker room where we put on fire suits and fire proof shoes,” Beres said. “The group then went to a classroom where we were told how to start the car, how to stop the car, what to do in case of fire, and what to do in case of a flat tire.”
The main emphasis of the lecture was safety, he said. “Drive the car, enjoy the experience, but come back in one piece is what they were saying.”
His safety instructor was retired Indy car driver Davey Hamilton.
“We all had two chances at this experience,” Beres said. “The first was to drive one of the cars, and the second was to go for a ride with a professional driver. I chose to drive the car first and went for the ride immediately after.”Beres was then given fireproof gloves, a fire proof stocking to go over his head, and a helmet.
“I felt very nervous at this point,” he said. “I thought of a quote from a professional driver: ‘When I get into the car I am getting into the jaws of a lion.’ I now saw what he meant.”
The pit crew for his car was comprised of two men checking the car – especially the tires – and two other men to help Beres get situated in the car.
“The car is built for speed first and for driver comfort second, so getting into the car is a very big job,” he said. “The first thing that you notice is that the space you will occupy is very small. In order to get in, the steering wheel is removable.
“The next thing that you notice is that you are sitting lower than the pedals. The front frame was about level with my chin. I get a good close up view of the road,” Beres said. “There was about one half inch of space between my shoulder and the cockpit, and about the same space for my helmet. The steering wheel was about three inches from my chest.”
He said the two crew men asked if he was OK. “What they were really asking me is, ‘do I want to back out and call the whole thing off’?”
He said the Indy Car seat belt system is a group of belts; two over the shoulders and one around the waist.
When the ignition switch was flipped all Beres could feel was the car vibrating
“Since I was so strapped in, I vibrated along with the car. A lead car pulled in front of me,” he said. “I was told not to pass it.
“They said do not shift and to keep the accelerator stuck to the floor board and off the brake and clutch.”
When the lead car took off, “I released the clutch and depressed the accelerator. The car is happy. It was not built to sit in the pits. It was build to go.”
The first turn at Indy was tentative, Beres said, but by the second turn he felt more confident.
“I floored the accelerator and felt myself being pushed back into the seat,” he said. “The turns are really where I felt it the most.”
To keep up with the lead car he had to go into the turns with the accelerator to the floor, and Beres said he wondered if the car would make the turn.
“The car vibrated. I am pushed sharply to the outside edge of the seat, and we made it,” he said. “We went around for three laps; two and one half miles per lap or seven and one half miles. The time goes by in a flash.”
At the end of the circuit Beres slowly returned to the pit, where the crew removed the straps.
”I couldn’t get out! My legs were Jello. I have no more strength in my arms,” he said. "I forgot to breathe in the three laps and I was suffering from oxygen deprivation.”
After the crew helped him out the crew asked him if he am ready for the ride with a professional driver. His driver was A.J. Foyt IV.
“I quickly saw that he had a much faster car. He also has the ability to shift gears,” Beres said. “We go into the turns at full throttle, and I thought we were not going to make it, but the car just turns. I remembered this is what it was made to do.”
After three laps he again needed help getting out.
“I asked how fast was I going, and was told that I was clocked at 145 miles per hour while driving and at 185 miles per hour while riding,” Beres said. “The track record is 220 miles per hour. I guess I have a new goal to shoot for.”

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