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Pre-1979 Indy 500 caution periods


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#1 Pingguest

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 14:28

Today I watched the highlights of the Indy 500 of 1978.



I noticed that during cautions no pace car was used. According to Wikipedia "[t]hrough 1978, the pace car was only used at the start of the race, and was not used during caution periods".

This made me curious about the rules regarding cautions in those days. Was there a maximum speed limit? Did drivers had to keep their distance to each other the same as before the yellow went out? In other words: how was the caution enforced? I'm also wondering why exactly it was decided to use pace cars from 1979 onwards.

I hope some Indy-fans could answer my questions. Thanks in advance!

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#2 Michael Ferner

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Posted 03 May 2010 - 14:36

The infamous caution lights... There were rows of lights placed around the circuit, which switched on and off according to a plan which was designed to make sure every car reduced its speed and kept its relative track position during the caution periods. If you saw three lights on at the beginning of the caution period, you were advised to adjust your speed so that you reached every other control station when it showed three lights, and when you saw two you had to be at the next station when it showed two etc. Of course, it was an open invitation to cheat... :rolleyes: NASCAR used the "pack-up rule" for years, and the restarts were always a spectacle, plus it was easier to police.