I don’t see the attraction of sitting in a steel box going around a track at 200 mph with 30 or so other drivers in steel boxes. But that’s not the issue. I’m never going to be an Indy Car racer. There are plenty of people that like to race and even more fans who like to watch. So, high-risk auto racing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

But as a society we do have a responsibility to try and make the sport as safe as possible. See New York Daily News, “After Dan Wheldon’s tragic death, NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, others, want to rid sport of oval tracks.” Those with a vested interest say that auto racing in general and Indy Car racing in particular has gotten significantly safer the past decade. Maybe so, but I’m wondering just how safe Indy Car racing can be when the cars have open wheels and open cockpits.

Then of course, there’s the question of whether or not greed played a role in creating a relatively unsafe situation at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where Wheldon died. The track was reconfigured in 2006 with progressive banking turns to increase fan-enticing excitement with side-by-side racing. In comparison, the Indy 500 track is fairly flat and a mile longer than the one in Las Vegas. Las Vegas also had the largest field of the season and included several inexperienced drivers. See Denver Post, “Speeds, inexperienced drivers converged at track in accident that killed Dan Wheldon.”

Safety can’t be trumped by profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) decisions — even in a sport that everyone acknowledges is inherently risky.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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