Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MORE ON THE INDYCAR TRAGEDY

I am still shaken up from witnessing that horrible Las Vegas 15-car wreck from the weekend Indycar season finale, the incident that cost Dan Wheldon his life.

This has affected both race fans and people within the auto racing community, and has brought a renewed and much welcomed soul-searching about safety on the track. Ironically, Wheldon was test-piloting the new, safer Indycars that were going to replace the current batch that were on the racetrack this season. Among other features, the new cars are supposed to be less likely to go airborne in a spill. Sad irony.

Anyway, five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson weighed in on the whole situation and he says that INDYCAR should just not race on ovals. Later, though, Johnson backtracked and clarified his statements after a lot of Indy people got mad at him, thinking he was slamming Indycar.

He has a point, though, about the safety issues at the ovals. There have been some very scary open-wheel crashes on the ovals, where these cars have hit the walls and come to a very fiery end. These Indycars need to slow down, some way, on these tracks.

I mostly agree that it would be safer for Indycar to stick to the road courses where cars are forced to slow down -- except I think they should still be able to race at Indianapolis because that oval is bigger, wider and safer. The bottom line is that if Indycar is going to race on ovals, they have to race on ones that are built for Indycar -- not these crowded NASCAR tracks with the high embankments. They're built for big, hulky, slower cars like the NASCAR machines -- not these top-speed Indycars. 

The problem at Las Vegas was that the Indycar machines were too crowded on the track and had nowhere to go in an accident. As well, the Vegas track has these embankments on it making it too easy for an Indycar to wipe out and go airborne into a wall, just like what killed Wheldon.

In short, these were Indycars driving at crazy speeds on a track that is built for NASCAR. Sorry, but I wouldn't race Indycars at Las Vegas Motor Speedway again. If Indycar goes back to Vegas, they've got to race on a road course -- in this case, the streets. No other way.

That's it for now -- time to tune in the World Series and relax. It's been a hard week.

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