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IndyCar is continuing to investigate the cause of the 15-car crash that led to the death of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A two-stage investigation is now under way into the accident, that also caused minor injuries to a number of drivers including Will Power, Pippa Mann and JR Hildebrand.
"We must continue to move forward with a thorough investigation," said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. "Fortunately, that has already begun, and we have the protocols in place to get this done. This was a tragic accident, and IndyCar needs to understand everything possible about it."
The first phase of the investigation is already under way, with an internal team of safety and competition officials evaluating data from the accident data recorders and accelerometers of the 15 cars involved.
An analysis of all the cars involved, of the personal safety equipment used, of photos, videos and timing and scoring data from the accident and its aftermath and the post-incident reports from race control and track safety crews.
Stage two of the investigation will use the findings of stage one to influence future safety procedures in IndyCar racing in a bid to minimize risks.
Safety Improvements to come?
IndyCar drivers discussed future safety improvements during Monday morning's three-hour, closed-door meeting called by IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. Participants were limited to drivers and senior series officials.
The meeting was called in response to Dan Wheldon's fatal accident Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti briefly met the assembled media after the session. Comments were limited but Kanaan said, “Drivers must continue to push for better safety measures during the six-month off-season” in an Associated Press report.
"There were as many (drivers) as could attend, with Randy, Brian Barnhart and Will Phillips," Franchitti told FOX 59 in Indianapolis. "Obviously it was a private meeting, but we all got to talk a lot, listen a lot, and look at how we can improve things in a lot of areas. I think it was a very positive and productive meeting, and that's the first step, I think."
Franchitti said it was "very unfair" and "completely wrong" for any blame to be directed at Bernard.
Davey Hamilton, a series veteran since 1996 who went through his own horrific accident suffering severe leg injuries in a 2001 crash at Texas Motor Speedway, also related the steps Dallara and the series are making going forward.
“One thing I could bring to the group today is what we've been through," he said. "We've went through a lot of cars until now. The current car has been safe, but this new car, Dallara is doing extra to make sure we're safe. It's a dangerous sport. We all know that. But our job is, as they mentioned, to take it to the next level and be the leader and on the cutting edge of safety.”
Kanaan again emphasized that the drivers weren't looking for quick fixes.
"We're not deciding anything today; we had a brainstorming session and even then we will not fix everything then, either," Kanaan told Sports Illustrated. "We have to make it better but we can't fix everything. We are so unified right now and in a way we are going to be in a lot more communication with the series. Now, we have a lot of work to do and will be speaking a lot more about safety and change."
One idea that appears to be gaining traction is to increase horsepower rather than slow the cars down, in order to separate the field. As Bobby Unser opined last week, and a consensus of current drivers appears to agree, bunching the cars together at the same speed creates inherent safety issues.
Tomas Scheckter, one of the most active drivers on Twitter following the crash, had a milder reaction on Monday as he tweeted both going into and after leaving the meeting.
“Thank @RBINDYCAR and @IndyCar for sitting down with drivers and letting us speak,” Scheckter tweeted. “Not in a position to discuss what went on in meeting. Only thing is that hopefully positive things come from it.”
President J. Douglas Boles about the passing of Indianapolis 500 and United States Grand Prix veteran Justin Wilson:
"We're saddened to have lost such an exceptional driver, friend and role model to many in the INDYCAR community. Justin was one of the most versatile and talented drivers of the last 15 years, as evidenced by his wins in sports cars, Champ Car and INDYCAR. More important than his driving ability was his approachable personality, his calm spirit, and the respect he earned throughout the racing community for the tremendous person, friend, father and husband he was. Justin made innumerable friends and admirers throughout the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR communities. All of us at IMS extend our prayers and deepest sympathy to the Wilson family."
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