19 October 2011
Tracy: Nothing wrong with Las Vegas oval
The new-for-2012 Dallara IndyCar has greater protection for the car's wheels, which should help to prevent the sort of carnage witnessed on Sunday, although the driver charged with the test and development programme, ironically, was the one to pay the highest price in Vegas.
Johnson's claims were also met with opposition from two grizzled open-wheel veterans, who firmly believe that oval racing has its place on the IndyCar schedule.
"I don't think Jimmie Johnson knows what he's talking about," AJ Foyt told the Indianapolis Star newspaper, " He's never drove one, and he's pretty stupid to make a statement like that. You could say the same about stock cars - I've drove both and I've been hurt real bad in both. IndyCars are probably 1000 per cent safer than when I drove. You always hope that you can make the cars 100 per cent safe, but this ain't the last time things like this happen.
Mario Andretti, meanwhile, pointed out that Wheldon's passing had come in a 'fluke, freakish accident' that next year's Dallara - which is to remember the Briton in some way - would help to alleviate.
"We've come a long way," the multi-discipline champion insisted, "In the '60s and '70s, open-wheel drivers had a 35-40 per cent chance of surviving a career. Today it's 99.9 per cent. Some things need to be revisited perhaps, but to say that, after 100 years, we don't have the knowledge to make these things safe enough for ovals is absolutely absurd."
Despite his assertions as to the safety of LVMS and other circuits on the IndyCar schedule, Tracy did admit to having some thoughts of calling time on his career, having witnessed Wheldon's accident at close hand. Although his belief that the Briton hit his car during his flight into the wall, it would appear that Tracy's entry was actually collected by that of another UK racer, Pippa Mann, who also overturned amid the chaos. Mann, in her first season as an IndyCar racer after agreeing deal for just a handful of races, escaped with a burn to her hand.
“I have been there, seen it all, done it all, [but] what I saw on Sunday is the first time I've seen that first hand in my career and it's not the sort of thing I want to see again,” he told CNN, “I have had a long career - I've been racing 20 years now in IndyCars - and my wife said to me last night 'you have enough trophies and have enough money, do we need to do this any more?'
“After seeing one of your friends die, and knowing the family, that is the question mark I have to answer for myself.”
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