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October 18, 2011

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Alan   "Airboy58"

agreed, I have been angry at threats to the series in other comments and am sorry.In the 80's and 90's as a young adult I was an IndyCar and F1 and USAC fanatic...I got On Track, was an ESPN "Thunder" junkie, went to Indy and Road America several times. I never stopped loving OW racing but not being able to afford expanded cable after ESPN reduced coverage,and the split,and my mid-life, I lost touch with all but Indy and the occasional ABC race. My interest captivated by Simona chasing TK at St.Pete, and thanks to the net and social media, I again am following what I love so much. I admire the IndyCar community for the love it is showing now. Thinking of the Wheldons, and love to them and all the IndyCar family!

sciguy

I agree, although it seems like a large investigation isn't really needed. Racing at 220+ wheel-to-wheel on a glass smooth, wide track caused this tragedy. I don't think fault needs to be placed, but we need to look at whether these tracks/situations are appropriate. That seems to me to be the bottom line. Safety improvements are always welcome but will never make this type of racing (in open wheel) safe enough.

Rich

Totally agree Pressdog. I will put Jimmie Johnsons "they should just not race on ovals anymore" comment in the knee-jerk reaction. I mean it IS called INDYCAR because of the Indy500 which last I checked is an OVAL. Indycar has raced on ovals 40yrs before Nascar even existed. Now if he had said "High banked ovals" then maybe I would have agreed.
I really like Paul Tracy's comment on some sort of Plexi Glass instead of a catch fence. Not sure how that would work since even they break during hockey games sometimes.

SkipinSC

Bill, there's nothing you say with which I do not agree.

Don't know if you're old enough to really remember the 1973 Indy 500, but after two driver deaths and one critical injury, USAC decided that the cars were going too fsat. They reduced the wing size, (among other things) dropped speeds about 10 mph, and 1974 was one of the safest months of May in history. That solution lasted until the engineers found a way to make the cars go faster within the guiidelines of the rules.

Here, howver, the cars involved in this instance were running their last rodeo, so change is going to have to be reflected on an already "blank canvas," the new DW1 (or whatever) chassis.

I would really like to see some sort of group testing on the several types of tracks on which our series runs before we start talking about radical changes. Maybe before we get into the 2012 season would be good.

We know from what Dan Wheldon told us that the new car was very stable, but how will it react with other cars around? Maybe we need to find that out before we decide to radically alter the series, toss away tracks or make more changes.

I do applaud those who are talking about changes to the catch fencing. After the Conway wreck, several NASCAR close encounters, and now this, it's something we NEED to look at.

Stonewing

Open and thorough investigations. Nothing as snap as "not going back to Vegas". If we avoid tracks because a death happened then there's no going back to IMS either. It seems the tracks either have too many grooves (Vegas, Chicagoland) or too few (every twisty). Plus we need to get sensible leadership into the sport. Listen to the drivers- they know. If a high profile veteran does retire this off season, they should be put in a leadership role immediately. Even if they have a track record of not playing nice with others.

redcar

As fans, we all want close racing. And we want speed. And we want competition. That's why we watch Indycar racing. And that's why we discuss those things everyday in various blogs. Racing cars is inherently dangerous. It always has been and always will be.

Having said that, every attempt should be made to keep drivers as safe as possible. If an investigation will help that, investigate away.

GeorgeK

Investigation? Weren't any of these clowns who run the sport involved when Texas was deemed "too dangerous" for Indy type cars, with excessively high speeds?

End of story, they shouldn't have even considered this as a viable Indy car oval race.

I applaud RB's attempts at marketing and generating interest for the season ending race. Unfortunately the clowns allowed it to turn into a circus and Dan got stepped on by one of the elephants!

Who's fault is it? The circus owner and their participants of course. How do you fix it? Turn it back into a race instead of a circus, on tracks that won't unnecessarily endanger the featured performers and fans.

jdh417

Thank you for writing this and discouraging me from writing something angry elsewhere.

That AP article has thinking in it much along my own lines. Indy can accommodate 33 cars because its size and flatness quickly spread the field. Smaller, higher banked tracks can't fit that many cars at that speed. Simply limiting the field probably would have stopped this Talladega-stle wreck. Somebody with the IRL should have been smart enough to figure that out beforehand.

I must disagree with Sir Jackie Stewart and several of the drivers in the postrace about experience being the primary cause. Even a field full of the best drivers never could have kept that up for 200 laps under those conditions on Sunday. A big wreck was inevitable.

Mike R

Jimmie Johnson spoke in a manner that didn't convey what he actually meant, as shown in his subsequent statements. I hold no ill-will toward him. Lots of times we say something the way it comes to mind and it's not a precise indicator of the intent.

I know there are a lot of Robin Miller-haters, but he's right about taking downforce off the cars to the extent that they are unable to flat-foot it like they do.

Open wheels always have the inherent danger/risk of an interlock that leads to cars being airborne, but when they have to slow to make a corner, the racing returns more to the drivers' control. The drivers must slow in the areas where the most danger lies. More capable drivers go forward, less experienced/skilled fall behind, and the field stretches out naturally. With the (partial) wheel enclosures of the new car, it's lessened further. We all may like the sound of 220+mph laps, but I get the biggest racing 'buzz' from Sprint Cars where speeds are seldom-if-ever mentioned. Lap time is.

If the racing quality is good and potential for the type of disaster that claimed Dan's life is lessened substantially, then cars slowing to less than 200mph in corners isn't going to detract from the spectacle, and it's going to notably increase time for a driver to react.

Catch fence issues have troubled me for years, as it's long been a threat (as SkipinSC pointed out about '73 with Salt Walther's opening lap crash). Some type of Lexan-laminate may be the answer as PT suggests, but the risk will likely never be completely eliminated.

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Impressive blog! -Arron

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