Champ Car: ‘Speedy Dan’ promotes road safety

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarTuesday, November 20th, 2007

 
 

In the US, the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving weekend – and Champ Car’s resident Brits are getting into the spirit with a road safety campaign which aims to cut road deaths during the festive period.

Katherine Legge and Dan Clarke, both based in the Midwestern city of Indianapolis, have visited Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana, along with colleagues Simon Pagenaud and Will Power to encourage students to practise ‘hands on the wheel’ driving.

The campaign is designed to encourage drivers to to stay 100 per cent focused while behind the wheel after recent statistics show that 80 per cent of all crashes and 65 per cent of near-crashes in the US are caused by distracted drivers.

At this time of year people are travelling across the country to spend Thanksgiving with their families, so a safety reminder is particularly apt.

Other unsafe behaviour that the campaign hopes to target includes text messaging while driving, street racing and failure to wear a seatbelt.

Legge said: “Champ Car gets involved in lots of good causes, but this is one we’re really passionate about. It’s one that does really predominate in a lot of young people’s minds.”

The Dale Coyne driver knows a thing or two about crashes, having been involved in an extremely nasty accident and then a pitlane fire in successive years at Road America.

And Dan Clarke has recently turned over a new leaf after a suspension for dangerous driving saw him sit out the Belgian leg of this year’s championship.

Clarke was put on probation following a string of errors in San Jose and he went on to get his marching orders after being blamed for causing a four-car crash in the morning practice session at Zolder.

That incident left fellow Brit Justin Wilson fuming after Clarke took him out on his first lap and was described by race director Tony Cotman as “totally unacceptable”.

Cotman barred Clarke from the Belgium event and said then that he would take his time thinking about whether to extend the ban to Assen.

But ‘Speedy Dan’ learned his lesson well, spending time in the pit lane for his Minardi USA team, at Race Control learning how the stewards come to their decisions and taking part in promotional activities. As a result he was allowed straight back in the car.

Nothing like a reformed sinner to spread the word of righteousness, huh?

To learn more about the road safety campaign, click here: http://www.handsonthewheel.org/

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