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Is This the End of 1.5-Mile Race Tracks for the Izod Indycar Series

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIOctober 17, 2011

LAS VEGAS - SEPTEMBER 15:  Tony Kanaan of Brazil driver of the #82 KV Racing Technology Dallara Honda leads the field at the start of the Las Vegas Indy 300 part of the IZOD IndyCar World Championships presented by Honda on September 15, 2011 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Even though the closest finishes and most excitement happen on 1.5-mile tracks, what happened on Sunday could put an end to the series ever racing on them.

These tracks are just too dangerous to race on.  We've been saying for years that these tracks will kill someone. 

Unfortunately, it happened.

Since 2001, eight cars have gotten into the fence of these tracks on race day with significant injuries to all the drivers.  Davey Hamilton, Kenny Brack, Buddy Rice (flip in Kansas), Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, J.R. Hildebrand, Pippa Mann and Dan Wheldon have experienced this, the latter four all in the same wreck on Sunday.

The cars getting airborne are the result of close racing and cars touching tires.

These cars are not built to run like that.  Putting open wheel cars in a Daytona or Talladega-like NASCAR pack racing situation is insane.

Drivers have been complaining for years that this racing is scary and dangerous, and they don't look forward to racing at these tracks.

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On Sunday it hit rock bottom.

When everyone is running in a close pack and someone loses it, the melee happens.

Don't get me wrong, it helps bring in the biggest ratings and gets the most hype due to the incredible wheel to wheel action, and finishes coming down to thousandths of a second like the last IndyCar race before Vegas in Kentucky, but we see what can happen if something goes wrong.

Chicagoland, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Atlanta, Charlotte and Las Vegas are all tracks that are or have been on the schedule that are high speed, high-banked tracks that breed close wheel to wheel racing. 

Only Texas and Las Vegas of that group are rumored to be on the schedule for the 2012 season.  The only oval addition is Fontana, which is a two-mile high speed oval that will cause that kind of racing as well, but in a bit of a different way.

Fontana had its own tragedy as well in the season finale of the 1999 CART season.  Greg Moore spun off of turn two and flipped multiple times in the grass before making hard contact driver side first in the inside retaining wall.

At least with Fontana though, the track is big enough for the cars to get spread out.  The series needs to add more ovals like that and get rid of the 1.5-miles.

Let's as fans get over ourselves of personal gratification of seeing close wheel to wheel racing and exciting finishes, and let these guys race like they're supposed to.

Pack racing got started in the late 90s-early 2000s and all loved it, but it's time to change.  I don't ever want to see a driver lose his or her life in a car again.