‘AN ENORMOUS THRILL’: NEIL CROMPTON’S ‘BITTERSWEET’ INDYCAR TEST

Neil Crompton tested an IndyCar for Tasman Motorsports in 1996. Pic: Supplied

NEIL Crompton was one of only a handful of Australians who sampled an IndyCar in anger during the championship’s revered late 1990s/early 2000s period.

He tells the story in full in his upcoming autobiography Neil Crompton: Best Seat in the House, which is available for pre-order in the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.

However, he touched on the experience on this week’s episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco.

Crompton tested the Tasman Motorsport Lola-Honda driven throughout the 1996 IndyCar season by Adrian Fernandez, spending a day testing at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan late that same year.

“It was an enormous thrill,” Crompton told the V8 Sleuth Podcast.

“It was a lovely mild day when we arrived (and) I went around and around in a Honda Accord road car just to get a look at the track.

“When we came back the next day it was freezing cold!

Crompton went on to drive for Tasman Motorsports in the North American Touring Car Championship in 1997. Pic: Supplied

“My first recollections of the experience of it was (that it was) terrifying on a cold tyre because this was a car that, wound down (to) 40” of boost, had something in the order of 750-odd horsepower in a 650-700kg car.

“After the tyres were warmed and the installation laps and all the basics were ticked off and started to find some fundamental rhythm, they gave me the rest of the boost, which took it to 45” of boost – so now it’s a 900hp racecar!

Listen to the full episode in the player below.


“It was a monstrous thrill. In the low gears the longitudinal force on your head just pushing you back in the seat was phenomenal, and the braking performance was phenomenal.

“I think I said in the book that it was a bittersweet experience in some respects.

“On the one hand it was great to do it; on the other hand … it kind of made me a bit melancholy because I felt as though I now had a proper understanding of what I knew I’d missed.

Crompton’s last open-wheel race had been in 1992; at the time of the test, he had spent the previous four years racing full-time in touring cars. Pic: Supplied

“I’d tried very hard from about 1989 or ‘90 onwards to see whether I could find a way into Indy Lights or Indy Car, but I could never put it together.

“But still, doesn’t matter. It’s all part of the fun and part of the journey. It was a really cool thing to do and a really serious weapon.”

Click HERE to pre-order Neil Crompton: Best Seat in the House from the V8 Sleuth Bookshop.

Will Dale is V8 Sleuth's Head of Content - Digital. He began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.