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Opinion: IndyCar Needs to Change to Prevent More Tragedies

NASCAR racer says IndyCar should stop racing on ovals, but fixing the cars is the real answer.

by on Oct.18, 2011

A fiery crash takes the life of Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and brings the IndyCar race in Las Vegas to a halt. Photo courtesy The Las Vegas Journal-Review.

Sunday’s tragic 15-car accident that killed race car driver Dan Wheldon has many people calling for changes to make the race safer. NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson even said that the cars should stop racing on ovals.

But it’s not the tracks that are the problem. It’s the cars. IndyCar needs to take radical steps to make the cars safer.

Wheldon was caught up in a massive wreck on the 11th lap of IndyCar’s final race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His car rolled up on another car, launching it into the catch fence.

Safety First!

Johnson told The Associated Press that while the cars are great on street circuits and road courses, IndyCars should stop running on the high-speed ovals where they reach speeds of more than 230 mph.

“I don’t know how they can really do it,” Johnson said. “Myself, I have a lot of friends that race in that series, and I’d just rather see them on street circuits and road courses. No more ovals.”

But the series’ namesake – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – is the type of high-speed track where the cars generate such dangerous speed. Ovals have long been a part of the sport and they’re not likely to leave them.

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Indy 500 Winner Wheldon Killed in Horrific Crash

"Like a war scene from Terminator."

by on Oct.17, 2011

A fiery crash takes the life of Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon and brings the IndyCar race in Las Vegas to a halt. Photo courtesy The Las Vegas Journal-Review.

What was supposed to be a celebration of a successful IndyCar season turned deadly when a chain reaction collision sent 15 cars careening like flaming pinballs across the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sunday, Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon pronounced dead two hours later from his injuries.

The two-time Indy 500 winner was caught up in a massive pile-up triggered when two cars touched wheels and spun out of control, Wheldon’s car launching into the air and smashing into a catch fence designed to prevent injuries to race spectators.

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Wheldon, who had been struggling to land a ride this past IndyCar season despite his string of victories, had started near the back of the pack but was rapidly working his way up through a field of 15 cars moving at speeds approaching 220 mph – fast enough that several drivers had complained of the potential risks prior to the race.

There was, “Not much room for error” on the 1.5 mile track, said driver Wade Cunningham, who was near the front of the pack when the accident occurred on Lap 11.

“It was like a movie scene which they try to make as gnarly as possible,” said Danica Patrick, who was in her last race in the IndyCar series.

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