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Are windscreen Indycars safe enough for pack racing again ?


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#1 YamahaV10

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 05:04

Pack racing was exciting but dangerous. I submit that the biggest hazard with single seaters was always the open cockpit. And oval racing intensified this effect. The biggest danger Indycars had on ovals and pack racing was the specter of getting into the catch fence. Because at the wrong angle, your head was exposed. If you look at all the fatalities in CART/Indy in the last 25-30 years, most of them would have turned out differently with over head protection.

 

Greg Moore, Dan Weldon, Jeff Krosnhoff (road course). These 3 were all violent wrecks where the point of impact came within the drivers compartment.

 

Paul Dana and Justin Wilson. Debris entering the drivers compartment.

 

Tony Renna. Both debris and impact are believed to be factors.

 

Since 1990, the only other fatalities were Jovy Marcelo, Scott Brayton and Gonzalo Rodrigues (road course). All of which were the result of no Hans and no SAFER barrier.

 

This race had 80 lead changes.

 


Edited by YamahaV10, 30 December 2021 - 05:21.


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#2 Dolph

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 06:10

I don't think so. The 2011 Las Vegas crash did not just end with Wheldons death due to head injury. Will Power suffered a back fracture, Pippa Mann had a severely damaged finger requiring multiple surgeries. There have been numerous non-lethal, but severe accidents in IndyCar that you have omitted and the results will not be better with the deflector shield:

 

Kenny Brack 2003 Texas race 2

1066024146.jpg

 

Mike Conway:

14-mike-conway-ap.jpg

 

Wickens:

wickens-robert-081918.jpg

 

Briscoe 2005:

EEOu2WbXYAYE5hn.png

2c199dae0cec7d366428481089742f06.jpg

 

 

Dixon:

indycar-indy-500-2017-scott-dixon-chip-g

 

And the big one:

 

177062.jpg


Edited by Dolph, 30 December 2021 - 06:10.


#3 YamahaV10

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 06:50

I don't think so. The 2011 Las Vegas crash did not just end with Wheldons death due to head injury. Will Power suffered a back fracture, Pippa Mann had a severely damaged finger requiring multiple surgeries. There have been numerous non-lethal, but severe accidents in IndyCar that you have omitted and the results will not be better with the deflector shield:

 

 

 


 

 

I referred to these cars as windscreen cars because that's what distinguishes them from the previous version and F 1. It isn't just a wind screen. It is over head protection. Judging by the pictures, its not clear to me that a windscreen car would not have helped prevent some of these injuries.

 

But I know what you mean.

 

My only point is, it was twice as insane to have pack racing without overhead protection as it is to do it with it.

 

While we are on the subject, Indianapolis is just a dangerous track. Some people don't like hearing it but its true.



#4 H0R

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 07:04

I'll never be comfortable with open wheel racing on Super Speedways and I agree with you that this problem persists at IMS as on every other fast oval. The deflector shield might mitigate some dangers but definitely doesn't provide a 100 percent safety. Pack racing is a bad idea and always was. The only solution would be to ban Super Speedways. But as much as I personally would be perfectly fine with it I fear that this would be not feasible due to public demand.

As sad as it is Indycar will remain a ridiculously dangerous sport at particalar venues. 



#5 PayasYouRace

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 09:13

We want good racing, not pack "racing".



#6 basimi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 09:20

I’ve never been into oval racing and never saw those pictures. Those look horrific and scary.

#7 PayasYouRace

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 09:39

I referred to these cars as windscreen cars because that's what distinguishes them from the previous version and F 1. It isn't just a wind screen. It is over head protection. Judging by the pictures, its not clear to me that a windscreen car would not have helped prevent some of these injuries.

 

But I know what you mean.

 

My only point is, it was twice as insane to have pack racing without overhead protection as it is to do it with it.

 

While we are on the subject, Indianapolis is just a dangerous track. Some people don't like hearing it but its true.

 

Yes, Indy is dangerous enough as it is. Why are you suggesting moving to a much more dangerous type of racing? Also, most Indycar fans know it's dangerous and aren't going to not like hearing it.

 

Don't ignore Dolph's examples of other injuries sustained at super-speedways. Consider crashes like Zanardi's or Hinchliffe's which resulted in extreme lower body injuries.

 

But perhaps most importantly, it's not that exciting watching the cars drone around in a pack. The close finishes and multiple lead changes aren't a result of driver skill or great strategy, it's just a slipstream shuffle.



#8 juicy sushi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 10:44

Pack racing was dangerous and dull. I am very glad Indycar is rid of it.

#9 ensign14

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 10:59

Pack racing is a symptom that the cars are not good enough.  That they're too easy to drive.  That a driver with a 5% performance advantage cannot pull out a 5% gap.  The excess of grip over power means the King Hiros can keep up with the Scott Dixons.



#10 juicy sushi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 14:28

The best contrast I can think of is that while the IRL went with the pack racing like an open-wheeled version of NASCAR at Daytona, CART had 1000hp, the Handford Device, and 80 lead changes per race, at much higher speeds, with much more spectacular passes.


Edited by juicy sushi, 30 December 2021 - 14:28.


#11 red stick

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 14:38

Pack racing was dangerous and dull. I am very glad Indycar is rid of it.

!



#12 Dolph

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 14:40

I referred to these cars as windscreen cars because that's what distinguishes them from the previous version and F 1. It isn't just a wind screen. It is over head protection. Judging by the pictures, its not clear to me that a windscreen car would not have helped prevent some of these injuries.

But I know what you mean.

My only point is, it was twice as insane to have pack racing without overhead protection as it is to do it with it.

I am aware of what the aeroscreen + halo does. I purposely selected those crashes to point out the ones it would not have helped. There are more, ofcourse. I left out Newgardens smash for example, where I suspect he injured his hand because it was out of the car.

If you get smashes into the wall, catch fence, cars spinning on track, flipping, launching, debris/tyres thrown into the stands, all kinds of carnage can break loose. Cars can be smashed into at high speed - e.g. Zanardi, Dana. There will be broken bones, back injuries. The deflector shield wont help with any of this.

Edited by Dolph, 30 December 2021 - 14:41.


#13 juicy sushi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 15:01

!

It can still happen, but it's no longer the deliberate policy of Indycar to create the conditions through horsepower and downforce levels, to ensure that is the form of racing which occurs.  And from both a safety and an entertainment point of view, I take that as a win.



#14 Risil

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 15:38

I disliked the pack racing and given the attendance of the recent Fontana Indycar races, I'm not sure they were much of a draw for spectators.

With the deflector shield in place the cars would probably be safer flying through the air, but it's not something anyone should be eager to put to the test.

Also I don't know if we know most of those accidents listed would've turned out differently with current levels of head protection. Have a hard time believing Renna (details are guarded about this one, which I guess tells its own story), Dana, Moore or Krosnoff (hit a tree) would be alive if there'd been a deflector shield.

#15 AlexPrime

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 16:30

I like pack racing, but don't miss it. Drivers health is more important. And they aren't safe enough for pack racing.
However, Indy must stay, Texas too.



#16 djparky

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 16:36

Nope...dont want it back

#17 red stick

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 17:33

It can still happen, but it's no longer the deliberate policy of Indycar to create the conditions through horsepower and downforce levels, to ensure that is the form of racing which occurs.  And from both a safety and an entertainment point of view, I take that as a win.

Yup. That was me agreeing with you.

Emphatically.

#18 Dmitriy_Guller

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 18:58

The danger of an Indycar flying into a fence post is not limited to just head injuries, plenty of drivers survived with pretty serious injuries.  Let's also not forget spectators, to whom the windscreen makes little difference.


Edited by Dmitriy_Guller, 30 December 2021 - 19:00.


#19 YamahaV10

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 19:14

I disliked the pack racing and given the attendance of the recent Fontana Indycar races, I'm not sure they were much of a draw for spectators.

With the deflector shield in place the cars would probably be safer flying through the air, but it's not something anyone should be eager to put to the test.

 

I suppose. Its just that we have all these tracks. Maybe shorter ovals would be ok.



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#20 juicy sushi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 19:54

I suppose. Its just that we have all these tracks.

Tracks that nobody attends.  Outside of Indy itself, the only financial viable oval Indycar races in the last decade have been Gateway and Iowa (at night).  The big ovals do not get crowds to come.  There is no point in being idiots to chase an audience that isn't there, and wasn't there in the past, either.



#21 PayasYouRace

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 19:56

Definitely would like to see Michigan back, and that could draw a crowd.

 

Michigan-International-Speedway-1985.jpg



#22 Fulcrum

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 19:57

I don't think so. The 2011 Las Vegas crash did not just end with Wheldons death due to head injury. Will Power suffered a back fracture, Pippa Mann had a severely damaged finger requiring multiple surgeries. There have been numerous non-lethal, but severe accidents in IndyCar that you have omitted and the results will not be better with the deflector shield:

 

Kenny Brack 2003 Texas race 2

1066024146.jpg

 

Mike Conway:

14-mike-conway-ap.jpg

 

Wickens:

wickens-robert-081918.jpg

 

Briscoe 2005:

EEOu2WbXYAYE5hn.png

2c199dae0cec7d366428481089742f06.jpg

 

 

Dixon:

indycar-indy-500-2017-scott-dixon-chip-g

 

And the big one:

 

177062.jpg

The question was about pack racing not oval racing in general.



#23 juicy sushi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 20:03

Definitely would like to see Michigan back, and that could draw a crowd.

In its heyday, it definitely did.  Between the lack of free tickets from Marlboro, and the trend in general, I think that if the Captain chose to revive Detroit rather than the US 500, he might have felt that the crowd wasn't there anymore.



#24 PayasYouRace

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 20:13

The question was about pack racing not oval racing in general.

 

Most of those accidents were in packed up fields.



#25 YamahaV10

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 20:42

Look at this old IRL commercials. It was marketed as nascar with open wheels. All fun and games till someone got hurt. Glamorizing everything that was wrong with it. Even debris in the cockpit is in the commercial.

The 2nd one even had the nascar sound




Edited by YamahaV10, 30 December 2021 - 20:48.


#26 PayasYouRace

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 20:52

Look at this old IRL commercials. It was marketed as nascar with open wheels. All fun and games till someone got hurt. Glamorizing everything that was wrong with it. Even debris in the cockpit is in the commercial.

The 2nd one even had the nascar sound

 

I don't understand why you're suggesting bringing it back then. You seem to understand why Indycar moved away from it.



#27 Otaku

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 21:57

Sorry guys, but I have to ask.... what the hell is "pack racing"?



#28 Fulcrum

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 22:03

Most of those accidents were in packed up fields.

Nope.



#29 YamahaV10

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 22:14

I don't understand why you're suggesting bringing it back then. You seem to understand why Indycar moved away from it.


I'm just pretty high on how much safer these aeroscreen cars are.

#30 juicy sushi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 23:27

They might help with protecting the head, but I don’t think they make drivers invincible against high g impacts, which are still very much a risk on big ovals. And the drivers and teams both hate that form of racing.

#31 MattPete

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 23:31

"pack racing" is a dirty word.  OK, I guess that is two words, so I'll German-fy it as Packracing.



#32 juicy sushi

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 23:34

Sorry guys, but I have to ask.... what the hell is "pack racing"?

In the late 90s and 2000s the cars of the IRL had comparatively low hp and high downforce so they could easily run flat out without lifting off the throttle. For the entire race. As a result, driver talent stopped mattering and the cars circulated in large “packs” consisting of the entire grid. Overtaking was a matter of slowly gaining millimetres over several laps to gradually nose ahead, with perhaps 5-10cm between the cars as this happened. These fine margins with limited range of action led to enormous accidents when the cars would make contact and the flat-bottomed IRL cars of the time then got air-born as the noses or tails would lift up while the cars were still well over 200mph.

The scale of injuries was pretty horrifying, and the series moved away from that style of racing when the series was financially able to ditch those cars.

#33 PayasYouRace

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Posted 30 December 2021 - 23:48

Nope.


Check again. Most are from the IRL period or from before the DW12.

#34 azza200

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 00:41

The question was about pack racing not oval racing in general.

 

But the biggest accidents tend to happen on Ovals 



#35 ANF

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 00:52

Sorry guys, but I have to ask.... what the hell is "pack racing"?


In the late 90s and 2000s the cars of the IRL had comparatively low hp and high downforce so they could easily run flat out without lifting off the throttle. For the entire race. As a result, driver talent stopped mattering and the cars circulated in large “packs” consisting of the entire grid. Overtaking was a matter of slowly gaining millimetres over several laps to gradually nose ahead, with perhaps 5-10cm between the cars as this happened. These fine margins with limited range of action led to enormous accidents when the cars would make contact and the flat-bottomed IRL cars of the time then got air-born as the noses or tails would lift up while the cars were still well over 200mph.

The scale of injuries was pretty horrifying, and the series moved away from that style of racing when the series was financially able to ditch those cars.

Here's an example of pack racing from NASCAR. They get it at Daytona and Talladega where the engine power is restricted to slow the cars down.

 

It's just stupid.

 

And here's a driver's perspective from the world of sim racing: https://youtu.be/EuIDOGpaCMA?t=4936


Edited by ANF, 31 December 2021 - 01:38.


#36 YamahaV10

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 01:11

They might help with protecting the head, but I don’t think they make drivers invincible against high g impacts, which are still very much a risk on big ovals. And the drivers and teams both hate that form of racing.

It was conventional wisdom that simple G forces were too much and was the cause of fatalities. But that isn't as clear anymore. With mandatory HANs , there are more drivers surviving high G's and some barely even getting a concussion.

 

Kenny Brack is the record holder but Romain Grosjean was up there too

 



#37 YamahaV10

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 01:13

 

 

It's just stupid.

Its subjective. A lot of ppl like pack racing. Seeing that fright train of cars.

 

Its perfect for Nascar though.



#38 juicy sushi

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 01:14

Or to give a more correct example of the exact situation we are talking about, here is Buddy Rice going for a very long ride:



#39 juicy sushi

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 01:18

It was conventional wisdom that simple G forces were too much and was the cause of fatalities. But that isn't as clear anymore. With mandatory HANs , there are more drivers surviving high G's and some barely even getting a concussion.

 

Kenny Brack is the record holder but Romain Grosjean was up there too

 

And then there are situations like Robert Wickens.  I think that you really want to say you like this form of racing, but don't want to be slammed by the rest of us who don't.  If you do, that's ok, but you're going to have to accept that Indycar is never going back to that again.  Too much of the paddock have very painful memories to accept that.  They won't do it.



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#40 YamahaV10

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 01:36

And then there are situations like Robert Wickens. I think that you really want to say you like this form of racing, but don't want to be slammed by the rest of us who don't. If you do, that's ok, but you're going to have to accept that Indycar is never going back to that again. Too much of the paddock have very painful memories to accept that. They won't do it.


There is a larger narrative behind pack racing. Nobody really wanted it. It just became reality. Through technology , the cars got too fast for the drivers to handle. They couldn't stay conscious. So they had to do something. All they could do was slow the cars down a bit. And pack racing was the result.

We have reached a plateau in motorsports like this. This is part of why Indy became a spec series. It wasn't about trying to go faster anymore. It couldn't be.

It would sure be interesting to see how fast they can make a driverless car go around a super speedway. Maybe that's what we'll do in the future

F1 has been confronting this too.

#41 juicy sushi

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 01:47

There is a larger narrative behind pack racing. Nobody really wanted it. It just became reality. Through technology , the cars got too fast for the drivers to handle. They couldn't stay conscious. So they had to do something. All they could do was slow the cars down a bit. And pack racing was the result.

We have reached a plateau in motorsports like this. This is part of why Indy became a spec series. It wasn't about trying to go faster anymore. It couldn't be.

It would sure be interesting to see how fast they can make a driverless car go around a super speedway. Maybe that's what we'll do in the future

F1 has been confronting this too.

Wow, none of what you just said was correct.  Like, at all.

 

The IRL emphatically did want pack racing.  They designed their cars to have the specific power and downforce to guarantee that kind of racing.  CART in the same time period, had much faster cars that didn't do that.  And the cars were not "too fast for the drivers to handle."  The Texas debacle was a one-off due to some unique circumstances coming together.  You can read up on it in a great series of articles Marshall Pruett wrote earlier this year (https://racer.com/20...le-the-lead-up/)

 

We had not reached some form of technological plateau.  The physics of it had been reached many years prior (hence the restrictions on wing dimensions and tunnel size on superspeedways for CART); what came together in the IRL was a ruleset specifically intended to create that kind of racing.  It was not an organic development.  The drivers hated it.  The owners hated it.  The fans didn't watch it in profitable numbers.  It was a failed experiment that along the way collected a very large toll in lives and careers.



#42 MattPete

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 01:47

... flat-bottomed IRL cars of the time then got air-born ...

 

The IRL cars had venturri tunnels. Below is a 2005 G-Force GF09. You can see the tunnels beginning at the front of the engine and continuing under the headers.

 

2d152649-d512-462f-8bc8-3072c34ee97f-132



#43 juicy sushi

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 02:05

The IRL cars had venturri tunnels. Below is a 2005 G-Force GF09. You can see the tunnels beginning at the front of the engine and continuing under the headers.

 

2d152649-d512-462f-8bc8-3072c34ee97f-132

I have memories of seeing them upside down and not seeing tunnels.  I guess I remembered wrong.  Either way, the cars were making too much downforce for the power, and were also shockingly prone to blowing over for some years (they eventually got a hold of that specific problem).



#44 Jim Thurman

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 02:34

This all seems rather gratuitous.



#45 MattPete

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 02:46

I have memories of seeing them upside down and not seeing tunnels.  I guess I remembered wrong.  Either way, the cars were making too much downforce for the power, and were also shockingly prone to blowing over for some years (they eventually got a hold of that specific problem).

 

 

I tried to find a picture of one upside-down, but either the pictures were too grainy/lo-res or the cars were in a billion pieces.  It's hard to tell, but the tunnels don't seem to be a prominant as on the DW12, but that might be an illusion.



#46 Dmitriy_Guller

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 06:56

It was conventional wisdom that simple G forces were too much and was the cause of fatalities. But that isn't as clear anymore. With mandatory HANs , there are more drivers surviving high G's and some barely even getting a concussion.

 

Kenny Brack is the record holder but Romain Grosjean was up there too

 

Is Kenny Brack's accident supposed to be an example of how high G-force accidents are not that bad?  He was pretty badly injured in that accident, and it essentially ended his career.



#47 loki

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 08:36

This all seems rather gratuitous.

It’s a bunch of “tell me you aren’t familiar with oval racing without telling me you’re not familiar with oval racing”.  Sensationalizing the wrecks and not fully understanding the context and history of where the sport was at that moment in time appears to be a common theme.  IMS is dangerous.  That’s the point to test both men and machinery.  That danger isn’t respected by posting crash porn where the causes are unique to that particular situation.  



#48 Bleu

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 09:17

I actually only watched Las Vegas race until the accident this year when it was 10th anniversary of the death of Dan Wheldon. 

No way it felt safe and aeroscreen doesn't change that.



#49 Beri

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 12:04

Pack racing wasn't the issue that killed Wheldon. The characteristics of the LVMS in combination with pack racing is what eventually triggered the events that cost Wheldon his life. Had all the drivers been as close to each other in exactly the same formation at Indianapolis, the outcome would have been totally different.
But as always; (pack) racing is dangerous and can cause injury to either spectator or driver.

#50 YamahaV10

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Posted 31 December 2021 - 14:04

Is Kenny Brack's accident supposed to be an example of how high G-force accidents are not that bad? He was pretty badly injured in that accident, and it essentially ended his career.


It just shows that the idea that a certain G level is hit means there will be a fatality isn't as clear anymore.