Today, many Americans are still in shock after the wrongful death of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon. The 33-year-old IndyCar driver died in an accident during Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
Wheldon’s tragic death has many questioning the safety of IndyCar racing and whether or not better precautions could have been taken in order to prevent Sunday’s serious accident from occurring. Every race car driver understands that there are risks involved with the sport, but after a scary accident of his own, NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson voiced his concerns regarding the particular dangers of IndyCar racing.
A day before Wheldon’s death, Johnson crashed his car head-on into a wall at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He was able to walk away from the crash with minor injuries, but the next day he learned that a fellow driver was not so lucky. The NASCAR driver said that he was “torn up” after watching Sunday’s crash and learning of his friend’s death.
In response to Wheldon’s death, Johnson is asking IndyCar to stop racing on ovals. Johnson noted that the cars race well on road courses or street circuits, but the design of the cars makes it very dangerous to race on ovals. In addition to the dangers an oval track poses to IndyCar drivers, Johnson commented that IndyCar drivers race up to 225 mph on average. “They are brave men and women that drive those things,” he said today during a test session at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
ABC News reported that Wheldon died from “unsurvivable injuries” on Sunday after his car was involved in a massive 15-car pileup during the 11th lap of the 200-lap race. Due to the high speeds and close proximity in which the vehicles were traveling in, the IndyCar drivers had no time to react to the initial collision on the track, causing a series of other collisions.
Johnson commented that he hopes Sunday’s tragic incident will encourage IndyCar to make its vehicles and tracks safer for drivers in the future.
Source: USA Today, “NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson calls on IndyCar to quit ovals,” Oct. 17, 2011