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He Knew The Risks
October 19, 2011 - Al Stephenson
Dan Wheldon's life was cut short Sunday when he died doing what he loved. The two-time Indy 500 champ was racing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the year's finale, when he was part of a multi-car wreck on lap 11. His car went airborne and landed in the catch fence. After being airlifted to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead from unsurvivable head injuries.
When his fellow competitors heard the news many weeped openly. The race was never restarted and the drivers who's cars were capable of running went back out on the track and did a five lap salute to their fallen comrade.
The blame started soon after the incident. People want to find fault when a driver is killed in a racing accident and the facts were soon aired out. Indy cars are too fast for this speedway which is highly banked. There were too many cars in the race. Indy car safety equipment is not up to par.
All of these things may carry some truth to them, but one fact remains high above every other cause for this unfortunate event. Racing cars is a dangerous occupation. Any time you put cars on a track and those cars attain speeds in excess of 200 m.p.h. - you have a recipe for disaster. Drivers know that death can occur at any moment. They try not to think about it, but they know the risks. Dan Wheldon knew the risk and was willing to take that risk.
What makes this incident so hard to bear was the fact that Wheldon will leave behind a wife and two sons. His oldest son is 2 years old. He may have vague memories of his father as he grows older. Wheldon's youngest son is just 2 months old. He will likely never remember his dad.
The view from my seat suggests that Indy car officials can, should and will look at the potential causes of this fatal accident. Indy cars will likely be safer in the future as a result of this tragedy.
Meanwhile all race fans prayers go out to Dan Wheldon's family and friends.
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