Mack Can Now Join The Pack

George Mack has become the second African-American driver to earn an Indy Racing League license after passing his four-phase rookie test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday.

Mack, a graduate of shifter karts, reached a top speed of 187 mph during the test in a Cunningham Racing-prepared G Force-Aurora. He is now close to making 310 Racing’s dream become reality in the IRL.

Ted Bitting, team manager at Cunningham, expected to spend most of the day helping guide Mack through the four phases, but Mack made short order of the test and was done by noon ET. It took Mack just 68 laps to pass the test.

“He’s pretty confident,” Bitting said. “They (the IRL) were very happy that he could get through the test as quickly as he did.

“He understands pretty good what’s going on.”

John Lewis, IRL director of operations, and driver Airton Dare were also on hand to observe the test.

"George is very mature," Lewis said. "He showed maturity in and out of the car. His approach to the whole day was very methodical. He knew what he had to do, and he did it."

Mark Laidler, 310 Racing’s owner, was proud to see his effort take another step toward becoming a full-fledge member of the IRL community.

“He’s now an officially licensed IRL driver,” he said. “I am very, very excited.”

Making Mack’s test even more impressive, Bitting said, was its location. Homestead’s flat, 1.5-mile oval places a premium on handling and reading the car.

“Most times you go to Texas or Atlanta where it’s easy for the guy,” Bitting said.

Willy T. Ribbs was the first African-American to compete in the IRL. Brian Barnhart, the IRL vice president of operations, still must approve Mack before he will be able to compete.

Mack’s rookie test probably will not be Bitting’s last time working with 310 Racing. The first-year team will work under Cunningham Racing’s umbrella in 2002, making it a two-car operation.

Another rookie, Rocky Moran Jr., is expected to drive Cunningham’s No. 55 G Force-Chevy in 2002.

“We have a commitment to run him most of the season,” Bitting said.

Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts the IRL’s season-opener on March 2.

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