IRL - 2012 and Beyond

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Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
It's precisely because the sport is short of both money and sponsors that those cars were being raced into a ninth season. There is a new design of car being built at this very moment, which is to be used in 2012, and which I'm sure includes the best safety features that can be realistically incorporated while ensuring that it remains affordable for the impecunious teams who have to buy it.

Of course everything that can be done must be done to prevent this from happening again.
 

Road of Bones

MTC Mole
Contributor
...or is that that the cars are too fast for the tracks in Las Vegas & Texas?

I have been saddened more than I ever expected to be by what happened this weekend - a terrible tragedy for Dan's family.

Now is not the time for blame-throwing or finger-pointing - that must come at some point though...
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
When the new cars appear next year, they will be safer than F1 cars as it will be more difficult for them to interlock wheels. Any open wheel racer is a threat to go airborne if their wheels touch. It is the nature of the beast. I also doubt that even an F1 chassis would have survived that crash. The loads that hit the rollover structure were immense, and a purely vertical load is such a rarity that I don't think ANY car design plans for a hit of that magnitude.
 

Clinton

Rookie
Some possible safety improvements:

1. New cars. This was already set to happen; the new cars have shielded rear wheels, which should make them safer.

2. Don't race on the wrong kind of ovals. As Dario said, Las Vegas is very steeply banked, allowing Indy cars to travel around it way too fast. Ovals like that should be for stock cars only. Pack racing is also dangerous; the most suitable ovals prevent the Indy cars from racing 3 or 4 abreast. Part of the problem with Las Vegas, as Jody Scheckter pointed out, is that it's so easy to stay flat around it that even the worst drivers are as fast as anybody - apart from the track design, that also facilitates dangerous pack racing.

3. Install ballistic plexiglass on the catch fencing. This should prevent cars from being torn up if they miss the top of the safety wall when they crash.

4. Don't have large numbers of cars racing on the shorter ovals (34 cars at the Indy 500 isn't so bad).

5. Scrap double file restarts on the road courses. These were intended to improve the show, but they tend to lead to cycles of repetitive crash - restart - crash - restart - crash. This both causes needless crashes, and seems farcical.

6. Improve driving standards. A tough one obviously - but all of the oval races have seen reckless wheel-to-wheel racing. Some of the drivers clearly aren't up to scratch (at least Milka Duno is no longer "competing"). Overtaking attempts on road courses regularly lead to crashes (admittedly, this is partly because the road courses and the cars generally do not facilitate overtaking).

Jimmie Johnson has suggested that the Indycar series stick to road courses in future. However, this is one safety improvement I cannot countenance. The series might as well disband, rather than do that. It's based around the Indy 500 after all! Besides, most of the road course races in Indycar are processional; safety problems aside, the oval races are vastly better.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
The official report on Dan Wheldon's accident has been published: http://file.brickyard.com/ftp/fetch/a2d7de7e-b92a-453b-afae-17c2b377a97b/

This is the summary:

"The chassis of the [Wheldon's] #77 impacted a post along the right-side of the tub and created a deep defect in the tub that extended from the pedal bulkhead, along the upper border of the tub, and through the cockpit," Barnhart said.

"As the race car passed by, the pole intruded into the cockpit and made contact with the drivers' helmet and head. Dan's injury was limited to his head injury.

"Dan appeared to suffer two distinct head forces. The first head force created a level of Head Injury Criterion, also known as a HIC number, that normally does not produce any injury.

"During the initial crash sequence, the accident data recorder measured 12 or 13 impacts. During that timeframe one of those impacts measured a measurable HIC number for Dan - that's the number that does not normally cause injury.

"The number was low enough. The second force was a physical impact, and it was the second force that caused a non-survivable blunt force injury trauma to Dan's head."

The series said that Wheldon had been travelling at 224mph just before the accident, but had managed to slow to 165mph immediately before the impact with the car of Charlie Kimball.

The impact was measured at G-forces of 24 longitudinal and negative 23 vertical.
 

sobriety

Pole Sitter
3. Install ballistic plexiglass on the catch fencing. This should prevent cars from being torn up if they miss the top of the safety wall when they crash.

Having read that, this is a brilliant idea.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
I seem to be well behind the news, but I've only just heard that Newman/Haas won't be racing in IndyCar in 2012. A sad state of affairs for such a successful and respected team, but indicative of the current financial climate and the demands of the (admittedly much needed) chassis and engine liberalisation.
 

Andrea_Moda_Rules

Podium Finisher
I seem to be well behind the news, but I've only just heard that Newman/Haas won't be racing in IndyCar in 2012. A sad state of affairs for such a successful and respected team, but indicative of the current financial climate and the demands of the (admittedly much needed) chassis and engine liberalisation.

I have to say it was Hardly a surprise really. Money wise they've been struggling since Champ Car folded. No Newman, Carl Haas in his 80's too, it did seem the perfect storm for a team to fold in a time when money is short, and IRL is struggling.

Shame, they were the first team i learned of Stateside with the two Andretti's Although Mario had long retired by the time i started watching Champ Car.

On a different note, Dario Franchitti has been moaning about the new Car, well maybe moaning is a bit harsh?

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/96837

Just wondering what people making of it, Teething Troubles? A bit of Whinging? i dunno, it seems like a driver should try and adapt himself to the car then the other way round.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Is this an indication that a spec series simply doesn't work, especially when it it isn't revitalised with some new tech every now and again? A1GP being another example. GP2 cars have evolved a bit over the years but if development stops then I think spectators lose interest. Even NASCAR has some technical differences (even if they do all look the same)
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
I think you're right, FB. Where the same car is being used in multiple seasons, budgets settle down to cover the team's operating costs - it then becomes difficult to raise the extra cash to pay for a new car when one is required. Sponsors are unlikely to want to cover it since their exposure probably will be the same whatever machinery is being run.
 

Road of Bones

MTC Mole
Contributor
A very good point - spec series are good for evaluating up-and-coming young drivers against one another in the same machinery, but when you're trying to tout your racing series as a "top-line" one, then you really need the white-heat of a constructors' competition (and the possibility of gaining a technical advantage over the enemy) to make it appealing to fans, and by extension, sponsors. There's only so much you can do with full-course cautions and fuel-saving runs to make a series like Indycar exciting to the average Joe - and when brand loyalty can't guarantee an audience (and the drivers are not home-grown), the decline in sponsorship revenue is depressingly inevitable. This is of course why the "win from the back" prize came about - to try and inject some excitement and flair into a series that is frankly dying on its arse.
 
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