The Indy Racing League, in cooperation with Infineon Raceway, has enhanced the warning systems in Turn 3A of the 2.303-mile road course for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma race weekend Aug. 20-22.
Two strobe lights were added for a total of four - with black backboards for additional visibility - and sets of LED lights facing the track (much like the strings of lights on catch fence poles facing spectators at Texas Motor Speedway to alert them to caution periods) have been installed.
Along with the existing corner flag stand, in-car caution lights, spotter radio communication and Race Control audio, drivers will have multiple overlapping warnings to potential danger ahead.
During a practice session last August, Penske Racing driver Will Power suffered two broken vertebrae and a concussion when his car hit the stalled car of Nelson Philippe, who spun exiting the blind, downhill corner. Philippe also suffered a concussion along with an open fracture to his left foot that required surgery. Both have recovered, with Power currently leading the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings.
Thirteen IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, including Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, representing 10 teams tested Aug. 13 at Infineon Raceway in preparation for the sixth annual race that has been won by a different driver each year.
"It's nice to be back, actually," said Power, who topped the speed chart with a lap of 1 minute, 17.46 seconds. "I was a little nervous heading up over that hill (at Turn 3A) a couple of times, for sure. But the track has done a fantastic job of making sure that everyone is aware if someone does spin. If there is a car sitting up and over the top, there's a lot of lights and plenty of warning before you get there now.
"I enjoy this track. It's very technical and one of the better road courses we come to so I'd like to come back here and I'd love to win."
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves recently described the flow of the natural-terrain course entering the corner.
"After Turn 2, your take fourth gear, it levels and then it goes downhill and swerves left," he said. "The amount of downforce you have here is unbelievable; it makes the steering so heavy that it's really hard to turn. You lift in that corner, the car is on rails, and you turn to the right again. It's a sharp right and there's absolutely nothing to look at - all you can see is sky.
"As soon are you can see, you're going down into Turn 4."