Josh Meredith's Blog

News Comment 8 I think

Posted in News Comments by Joshua on the October 19, 2011

On Sunday, during the IZod Indy Car race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a driver’s small mistake on the 12th lap resulted in a 15 car, fiery pile up. One driver, Dan Wheldon, got caught up in the pile up and his car flew through the air and into the safety net that surrounds the track. Unfortunately, he received major head trauma and was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead two hours later.

I know I have gotten into the habit of writing about people who have died with previous post of Steve Jobs, Al Davis, and now Dan Wheldon but this is big new for a couple of reasons. For one, before the race, many drivers were voicing their opinion that the track was unsafe for Indy cars and that the banks were to steep and there were to many drivers on the track. Ill try to explain these valid complaints. Indy cars have the potential of reaching speed of 240 miles per hour on speed ways. Which is 20 mph faster than on a road course or track. Also, on speedways, drivers have the ability to drive three wide. So imagine driving 240 mph with a car on either side of you going equally as fast as all three of you go into a turn with cars in the same formation just split seconds behind and ahead of you. The steepness of the track just make it that much faster. When the drivers said that there were too many cars on the track their complaint made more than a little sense. Every race this year in Indy car had 19 or 20 drivers except for the Indy 500. For some reason, the Indy Car series governing body thought that since it was the last race of the Indy car season, that they should put 34 drivers in the race.

All of these factor contributed to the perfect storm for the already unsafe Indy cars. So on lap 12, one driver got loose and clipped another driver, which started a chain reaction which had 15 cars crash including four that literally flew and flipped over 200 feet through the air. One of those cars that flipped and flew through the air was Dan Wheldon’s.

Now the Indy car is already unsafe as it is. It has an open cockpit and they have it build so low to the ground to make it as fast as possible that they get air born quite easily. Ironically, Dan Wheldon was the main test driver for the new cars that the Indy series will be driving next year. The race was cancelled but the 19 drivers still in the race decided to do a 5 lap salute in honor of Dan Wheldon after they heard the bad news. Dan Wheldon will be miss tremendously by the sport.

My own thoughts the issue:

The Indy Series is trying to hard to catch up to NASCAR in popularity that they are willing to throw safety on the back burner. They probably shouldn’t even race on the speed ways much less put 15 more cars than normal on one. But, the more cars, the more exciting for a TV audience. Dan Wheldon was one of the most recognizable names in Indy racing. If you asked me to name as many people as I can in the series he would be one of the three names that I would have been able to produce off the top of my head. Danica Patrick and Dario Franccini are the other two. Dan Wheldon left behind a wife, and two you boys. They were able to be there in the hospital at his side when he passed when he passed. Indy has a long off season a head of them where they are going to be pushed to make some decisions about speed ways and the type of cars the drivers are driving. It seems that ever 5-10 years another driver is killed. Though I can’t remember their names, I know a driver was killed in 1999 and another one in 2006.

My only source for this news comment is really that I watch ESPN all the time so I don’t really have a web link for you. If you do want to read more on this tragic crash then you can just google Dan Wheldon. I will provide one of the youtube videos of the crash though so feel free to check it out. It hard to make out which car is Dan Wheldon’s, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you want to look at it, but he is in one of the cars that flies through the air. There are so many videos of the crash on Youtube so I hope this is a good one.



2 Responses to 'News Comment 8 I think'

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  1.   Andrew said,

    on October 20th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I agree with you that the safety needs to be looked over during the off season to make this more safe for drivers.

  2.   fuglsang said,

    on October 25th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    You already know I’m no fan of any motor sports. I don’t understand them, and I think the audience’s excitement you mention is natural: they want to see crashes. My initial reaction was, “People are surprised a race car driver died?” I don’t mean to be harsh, but even with the safety changes you suggest, bad things are going to happen.