Season 3 Episode 10 – It’s Mario Kart
Warm Up the Tires
- Woman of the Week: Arlene Hiss (20:10)
- Preview the INDYCAR Grand Prix (24:21)
- Shit We Didn’t Make Up – The Snake Pit (50:57)
In safety news, the Advanced Frontal Protection (the nubbin’) was supposed to debut during this year’s Indianapolis 500. Due to some quick work, the protection system will be debuting during the INDYCAR Grand Prix. During the test this past week, most people seemed pleased with the device. Conor Daly seemed to have some issues with wind flow, but the team at Andretti Autosport was already fixing it. He’s lucky to have good equipment this year!
The series is continuing to tweak things. The rear-wing wickers can add 50, 100, or 150 pounds of downforce. Also, additions were made to the front wing, including a notch out to help airflow.
Woman of the Week – Arlene Hiss
Arlene Hiss, a dance teacher from California, underwent numerous tests and was required to drive in ovals during the regular season prior to attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Hiss started racing in 1965 within the Sports Car Club of America Showroom Stock racing in California. She won two championships in California and was named the “Most Outstanding Woman Driver” in 1974. It was two years later she started on her path towards the Indianapolis 500.
Hiss was the very first woman to be granted a competition level license by the United States Auto Club (USAC). She declared her intent to enter the 1976 Indianapolis 500. That same year, Janet Guthrie had entered her application. USAC saw Gutherie’s sport-car driving experience as sufficient. For Hiss, they required her to compete in the first two races of the 1976 season. The first race was on the Phoenix oval track. Prior to the official USAC races, Hiss completed two different test sessions. She completed a test at the Ontario Motor Speedway, reaching speeds of 176 mph (fast enough for Ontario but not Indy). Her second test was at Phoenix where she reached speeds of 126 mph (fast enough for Phoenix but not Indy). Her tests and practice leading up to the first race of the season reached one-thousand miles.
On March 14, 1976, Arlene Hiss started the Jimmy Bryan 150 USAC National Championship race at the FastTrack International Raceway in Phoenix. She started 21st out of 22nd and became the very first woman to start in a USAC race. She ultimately finished the race in 14th. There were some issues during the race. Sensing she was slower than the other cars, Hiss took the higher line to let faster cars pass underneath her. Race officials black-flagged her and brought her back into the pits, after some discussion, she allowed to re-enter the race. There was a lot of crankiness surrounding her debut. Drivers felt it was unsafe or she had been held to a lesser standard because she was a woman. Both may be the case. It was also a time when there was unbearable ire from a lot of male drivers against any woman who attempted to race.
She never raced in the Indianapolis 500. Hiss backed out from her idea to enter the race. She moved over to stock car racing for a few years before ultimately retiring in 1978.
INDYCAR Grand Prix Preview
If the Indy 500 is pageantry, the INDYCAR GP is a carnival. The IndyCar Grand Prix resurrects both the old Formula 1 track from the United States Grand Prix held in Indianapolis and the Moto GP. The two races are reminiscent in the set of up the track. It’s a flowy and fast track, one that would have favored Formula 1 cars. The biggest thing anyone coming to the event has to wrap their head around is the cars run in the opposite direction. When you hear someone talk about Turn 1, they mean the Turn 1 of the Indianapolis 500. When you hear Turn 1 during GP weekend, it’s a turn right before what most people know as Turn 4.
The drivers will do eighty-five laps for a total distance of 207.315 miles. Penske has won the race the most as a team (4 times) and Will Power has won the race most as a driver (3 times). The race will celebrate its sixth year this year.
- Alcohol of Choice
- Abby: Vodka based drink (perhaps Tiger’s Blood)
- Molly: Woodchuck Rose Cider (that we discovered at #HIGPA)
Shit We Didn’t Make Up – The Snake Pit
It is a place of legend, and can never fully be given the justice it deserves. The Snake Pit…the old school Snake Pit. The place where police officers would not go in alone. Where babies were placed in cribs…and made. If you lived in Speedway either you have a Snake Pit story or a family member has a story.
The term was first used in approximately 1961, a term for the area in the southwest term that had “sunbathers, smoochers, and picnickers”. It got rougher each year afterward. In 1970 one reviler attempted to get onto the track. In 1974 the police had riot gear and dogs, and billy-clubs. It came in handy as a riot ensued in the area. The following year the police used police horses. Someone threw a beer bottle at a horse, and then tear gas was used. In 1980 a fatality happened when someone doing doughnuts in a jeep flipped. Then track management stepped in. In 1981 they erected bleachers in Turn 1, and the Snake Pit was moved into Turn 4. Then in 1999 when the Road Course was constructed, the Snake Pit was again moved, this time to Turn 3.
The New Snake Pit was introduced in 2010. It’s a completely different vibe. An EDM Concert…but still a lot of debauchery.