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What the hell were 34 open-wheeled cars doing on a small (1.5mi) oval in the first place?
I've actually driven that track with the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and I can tell you that it's not huge as oval's go. On top of that, in an open wheeler, if you make the slightest contact with another car's wheel, you are going for a ride. And you have no protection when flying head first into the wall/fence. This track was designed for stock cars, with closed wheels and roll bar cages.
Being an F1 nut, I don't know much about him, but I truly respect the sheer guts that it takes to hop into one of these cars and drive competitively. May God rest his Soul.
However, I could think of worse ways to die, slowly wasting away in a hospital bed, or having to live after a severe stroke for instance. I would much rather go out doing something that I loved, a warrior.