LarrE Ervin

Racing is dangerous.

Always has been, always will be. The recent accident in Las Vegas was just that….an accident.  We should learn from it and move on till the next one. And make no mistake there will be a next time.

 I have followed auto racing for over 60 years. I was watching the Indy 500 when the drivers didn’t use seat belts! So much of the driver stuck out from the car it would have been like a seat belt on a motorcycle. It was better to be thrown clear from the tumbling car. I have seen bodies flying through the air like rag dolls. The fuel tank would frequently bust open and cover the car in burning fuel and the drivers had no fire proof clothing. They usually ran in a T shirt and getting away from the car as fast as possible sometimes meant while it was still flipping.

 I’ve been close enough to feel the impact and know that it would be fatal. I always thought we were as safe as possible…at that time. But we must learn from each accident and make sure that accident is not repeated.

Once the cars were designed with a roll bar we started strapping the drivers in. Once we found a fuel tank that would stay intact after a brutal impact we stayed with the car during a wreck.

The most memorable death was Dale Earnhardt’s. NASCAR mandated the use of head and neck restraint after that. Several race series had all ready made their drivers use it. NASCAR was a little late in their demands and the result was disastrous. A safer wall was also a result of the Earnhardt crash. I can’t imagine how many drivers are alive just from these two improvements.

Before you say, “Yes, but Dan Wheldon was an Indy 500 winner.” You probably didn’t know that 13 other Indy 500 winners have been killed in race crashes!  We loose our champions as well as the local dirt track drivers.

Over 200 drivers have been killed in the U S since Earnhardt’s crash. The list of race related fatalities (drivers, officials, spectators, etc) since we started races automobiles is nearly 10,000 world wide. There have even been 28 photographers killed at the tracks.

     The Indy Car officials will investigate the crash and make recommendations to improve the safety of their drivers in the future. That is all we can do.  And make sure that what happened in Vegas does not stay in Vegas.

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Revised: February 23, 2013