Weights and Measures: Not Just for Grins and Giggles

Published 09/11 2013 09:28AM

Updated 09/11 2013 09:34AM

INDIANAPOLIS--Long before the famous phrase "Gentlemen, start your engines!" is uttered, racing teams will be making preparations to ensure their drivers and cars can compete in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. The Weights & Measures Division of the Indiana State Department of Health gets an assist for help making the race the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
The Weights & Measures division has been inspecting the scales for the Indianapolis 500 for approximately 30 years. Weights & Measures inspector Mike Miller visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Friday, before any on-track activity took place.  Miller was assisted by the Indianapolis-based System Scale Corporation with the task of checking the car and equipment scales to make sure they were weighing correctly and in proper working order. Five scales, three for race cars and two for racing equipment were tested in all.
"It's great for the public to know that Weights & Measures is a versatile division for the Indiana State Department of Health," said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. "In addition to helping Hoosiers get the proper amount and grade of fuel for their vehicles, the Weights & Measures division also ensures that scales across the state are in working order for food and other goods. Their services even touch on entertainment by ensuring properly working scales at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Weights & Measures' staff checked and tested three scales, two portable and one in-ground scale that weighs the race cars that will drive around the famed two-and-half mile oval. One of the portable scales weighs the IndyLights cars, while the other two scales are for the larger and more famous Dallara-built race cars that can scream down the straights at the Speedway at more than 225 miles per hour.
Five-hundred pound weights are used to determine that each corner scale is working properly. The weights are set on each corner, read by computer and then removed. The process is repeated again for each corner scale.

"We calibrate the scales to make sure they are perfect," said Miller.  "The minimum test weight we use for these scales is 500 pounds, which is sufficient enough for the test. If the scale isn't working properly, a technician would recalibrate it and we would test the scale again."
Perhaps the most important job is the Speedway's official scale, located in the garage area off of Gasoline Alley. This is the official scale used after tech is completed. It is here that the car's official weight is determined right before it goes on the track.--the official weigh-in before battle.
For the 2013 race, which will be held on Sunday, May 26, all scales have been officially passed, certified and approved by the Weights & Measures division. Racing can commence.
"We take care of the scales," said Miller. "And the scales have passed with flying colors and we're good to go racing."

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