IndyCar » Your views: Driver safety in open-wheel racing

'Dan Wheldon's two sons shouldn't have to live with the reality that their father died because he chose a profession in which his life wasn't the number one priority'

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November 02, 2011 2:10 PM

"Dan Wheldon's two sons shouldn't have to live with the reality that their father died because he chose a profession in which his life wasn't the number one priority"

Sorry Mr. McCormick but I think that's a crock of s**t. To say that Motor racing as a whole or even specifically IndyCar as a series doesn't value the life of the participants is wrong. And not only that you provide ZERO evidence to support that statement. You site a couple of F1, F3 examples but didn't mention Wheldon's accident. Why? Because you have ZERO evidence or data that even a closed cockpit would have saved Dan. And since you mention a closed cockpit, it will not work on a formula simply because formula cars don't have doors or windows - how in the world would drivers get out the cars in some accidents?

What happen to Dan and the ramifications for his family is horrible indeed. But let's not throw around damning statements and false solutions without any actual facts or data to back them up.

Heavy E - Unregistered

November 02, 2011 2:10 PM

I would respectfully submit that if life was his number one priority, then Mr. Wheldon would have taken up a different profession, perhaps accounting. The fact is that he was well aware that racing is a dangerous business, and went into it with his eyes wide open.

To those who wish to neuter motorsport by taking all risk out of it, I suggest that perhaps you're following the wrong sport. Go watch golf, or curling, or some other damn thing and leave us be so we can enjoy our racing in peace.


November 02, 2011 2:18 PM
Last Edited 1484 days ago

I'm not saying don't look at alternative ways to improve safety at all - safety should always improve. But let's not just say "well, "X" is the solution" without doing proper test and evaluations. And let's surely not say motor racing isn't looking out for it's drivers/riders because I simply believe that isn't true. One could argue the main assest to any series is the talent and I'm sure that business owners look out for their assests.

But the fact is, motor racing will always be dangerous - very dangerous. When traveling in excess of 200mph the chance that unforseen things will happen will always be there. The sport can minimize that chance but it will never be removed.

Martin - Unregistered

November 02, 2011 3:16 PM

What a load of twaddle. To suggest that the IRL doesn't care about the safety of its drivers is extremely offensive, borderline libellous. Oval racing is an especially hazardous form of racing, which nobody is forced to compete in, yet they went almost 5 years without a fatality or lifelong injury.

Enclosing the cockpit area on open-wheel cars would not only be worse in the case of fires or overturned cars, but would also reduce visibility, probably causing more accidents.

You haven't even mentioned the main causes of Dan's death - the crazy 'beat the regulars from the back of the grid for big money' scheme, the too-large field on a circuit unsuitable for open-wheel cars of such speed, the catch fencing and the ease with which current generation IRL cars take off on wheel-to-wheel contact (which the new-for-2012 car has dealt with). Mistakes have been made and lessons can be learnt, but this article is a hideously inaccurate assessment of the situation.

motoman - Unregistered

November 02, 2011 4:08 PM

Don't see how you can compare the deaths of Dan Wheldon and Ayrton Senna, the issue's surrounding them are completely different. I would bet that Senna and indeed Ratzenburger would still be alive if those cars were built with driver safety in mind.
People are not pointing fingers at the car safety features in the case of Dan Wheldon's death, they're looking at the circuit and the features of the event as the cause.

If I jumped off a tall building would the pavement be to blame for my death?

Jay Renski - Unregistered

November 03, 2011 1:52 PM

This article is 100% incorrect.
Where did this writer come from, Mars?
Senna and Wheldon's accident could not have been more different, and their injuries have no similarities.
Senna's death was caused by the protrusion of a suspension wishbone, though his visor and into his skull. A canopy or wind screen could have helped in this case.
Dan was killed by blunt force trauma, after his car FLEW THREW THE AIR! The accident was more similar to Greg Moore's accident in 1999, when Moore's car also got airborne. There was no penetration into Dan's helmet, and the injury was due to the secondary collision of the brain with the skull.
The Indycar series is reviewing the issues, and the biggest two being discussed are stopping the cars from taking flight, and to reduce pack racing.
No canopy would not have saved Greg, Tony Renna or Dan.

Damien IE - Unregistered

November 04, 2011 6:36 PM

Top fuel dragsters are a combination of open and closed with the roll cage bars over their heads. They sit down and back into the protective cage. Protects side impact, roll over and could be altered to deflect more frontal damage by having the front bars go to the front of the cockpit much like the saloon cars A pillars. Proper safety & recovery teams would also assist

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