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Dan Wheldon Crash Video: Horrific Crash Proves Small Tracks Bad for Indy Cars

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 17: A makeshift memorial for Dan Wheldon, driver of the #77 Bowers & Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara Honda, is displayed outside Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 17, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wheldon was killed during the Las Vegas Indy 300 part of the IZOD IndyCar World Championships presented by Honda at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16, 2011.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Nicholas GossCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2011

The horrific 15-car crash that led to the death of IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon on Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway proves that IndyCar racing at smaller tracks is not a good idea.

The Las Vegas track was built for NASCAR racing and is only 1.5 miles long in an oval shape. Many IndyCar tracks are much longer in distance and have a more rectangular shape.

In contrast to the smaller track at Las Vegas, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway—the site of the Indy 500—is 2.5 miles long in a rectangular shape.

Five-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson doesn't want IndyCars to run on oval tracks.

"Those cars are going so fast and get airborne frequently on ovals," said Johnson. "I wouldn't run them on ovals. There's just no need to."

The speed of IndyCars are already extremely fast, and when combined with steeper banks on some of the smaller courses there is a higher probability of big, multiple-car crashes.

The smaller tracks also crowd the cars together more, creating a higher chance of drivers bumping each other and possibly starting devastating crashes.

When these cars get airborne there is not much the driver can do to protect him or herself. One unfortunate thing in all of this is there isn't much more that can be done to protect the drivers.

The walls have been improved to handle crashes better and enhancements have been made to cars over the years. But there likely isn't a major breakthrough in safety coming anytime soon.

The best solution is to not race IndyCars on small oval tracks, and only race these vehicles on longer tracks—preferably ones in the shape of rectangles.

Hopefully, IndyCar realizes the dangers of their cars racing on these small tracks, many of which were designed for NASCAR races, and shift to longer tracks that are safer for the drivers.

 

 

Nicholas Goss is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for the latest sports news and updates.  

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