IndyCar » Vegas: just what exactly happened?

IndyCar worked for months to make the 2011 season finale a fitting climax and affirmation of a series on the way back. No one could know it would end up being its darkest hour.

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October 17, 2011 3:42 PM

A very well written piece, thank you to whomever is the author.
From all prerace driver comments, one just knew something was going to happen, and nothing about it would be good...
I tuned in to the broadcast about 30 minutes in, to see my screen filled w/ cars, parts of cars, car parts, smoke, fire extiguisher discharge staining the track, and one car, covered in canvas.
...and that sinking feeling entered my body and mind...
I feel powerless to add much is such a great loss to our racing community, across all forms, 2 and 4 wheeled...
IndyCar put all the parts in place for this to happen...a low point in the leadership of this series. A cold heart somewhere has looked at the rateings for the International audience...
For those of you in England, you should know that Dan really was embraced here in America...respected, and loved. As a 2 time Indianapolis 500 winner, he truly will never be forgotten...he has passed into our history.
The telecast closed w/ an


October 17, 2011 4:26 PM

The telecast closed with an ascending aeial view of the track...sitting unto itself in dessert vastness...such a forlorn place for anyone to die... sad for Dan to loose his life so very far from home...he was here, and then he was gone. Such a star. Hail Dan Wheldon!

Andrew Long

October 17, 2011 5:00 PM

Agreed chasmunch - good journalism. I'm from the UK and I recorded the race as it was on here in the evening. I checked in 30 minutes from the end expecting to see someone crowned champion and soon it dawned on me that something was wrong. As I went backwards with the recording, it soon became apparent that Dan was seriously injured.

This reminds me of 1994 and the death of Senna. I too thought covering Wheldon's car with the yellow sheet was ominous - it stopped the overhead shots. And now he's gone to the Indy500 in the sky. It's ironic because he was testing the new revised and safer 2012 car.

I hope he didn't suffer too much and I really feel for his family.

I remember Greg Moore's crash in 1999 and Zanardi's in 2001. I wonder whether the IRL will pull out of ovals except for the Indy500.

Mark _

October 17, 2011 8:14 PM

It is the high banked ovals that allow them to go flat the whole lap that are the problem. Ovals like the Milwuake Mile where drivers actually have to slow and shift down don't have these speeds or large bunches of cars going three and four wide.

No more IRL - Unregistered

October 17, 2011 10:29 PM

What happened here was the IRL put what they perceived as entertainment before the safety of the drivers.No way should this many cars travelling at 220+ mph be on a 1.5 mile oval, an oval that was built for Nascar not open wheel cars.To make things worse the IRL had tried to invite drivers from other series to join the race to go for the big $5 mil prize if they could win. God only knows what may have happened if a driver with little to no oval experience had actually entered and started the race.
The IRL are the cause of the carnage that happened yesterday and should hang their heads in shame.
We all understand that racers are a different breed than us mere mortals , and choose to do this for a living.However they should be provided with the safest environs as possible to do their jobs.
The IRL failed in this , but most of all they failed Dan Wheldon.
RIP Dan . You will be missed. Godspeed.


October 18, 2011 1:48 AM

Some of you are spot on.

Ovals in general are not the problem - it's the 1.5 mile high banked NASCAR ovals. Those are built for NASCAR and not open wheeled cars. Those trackes produce pack type racing were drivers never brake or even let up on the gas. INDY cars belong on flat ovals and ovals with minimum banking were drivers have to let up off the gas. That usually spreads the field and prevents this overly dangerous pack type races were drivers don't have time to react when something happens in front of them.

kiwibob - Unregistered

October 18, 2011 2:33 AM

RawDawg is right on with comments its no good going off saying ban all ovals it would be like ban all guns someone got shot and killed . I liked Dan and and am sorry for his wife and kids but it is a dangerous sport and we are lucky there are not more deaths he was working on new car which might keep some more racers from death RIP Dan

JOHN - Unregistered

October 18, 2011 2:58 AM

We all know now. (What happened...) 34 cars entered on a tight short oval racing 220mph+ with $5m prize money was simply asking for trouble. I was skeptical about this race before it even started. The majority of IndyCar racing seems to be ok and safe enough and we should thank our lucky stars 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' (INDY 500) has not given us any fatalities of late. This was the very race Dan won this year and the joy he gave us with that unexpected win - no words can express. IndyCar is very dangerous (compared to the all-too-safe & predictable F1) and I have the greatest of respect for drivers who do this for a living. Danny was the nicest unassuming man in sports sadly lacking character. His passing is painful and my sincere condolences go to his family.

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