Good.is Managing Editor Megan Greenwell say in her recent article that Dan Wheldon's death at the Las Vegas IndyCar world championship should herald the end of motorsport. While our hearts go out to Wheldon and his family, and we can understand Greenwell's reaction, but we cannot condone it.
The heart of the problem is what she said here: "...if there’s no way to reduce the risk of death to the point that drivers don’t assume they may die every time they step into their cars, it’s time to ban the sport—whether IndyCar or auto racing overall." In many vocations and avocations there is a significant risk or death or injury, and the people who participate in these do so knowingly.
More importantly, however, is that motorsport safety can be proactive. Historically, safety measures in motorsport were put into place after a crash like Wheldon's. When Ayrton Senna died in 1994, his good friend Sidney Watkins was appointed as the chairman of the FIA Expert Advisory Safety Committee. The FIA had decided to take a proactive approach to safety. Since Senna's death, not a single F1 driver has lost his life. This is largely due to the actions of the Expert Advisory Safety Committee and Professor Sid.
The race in Las Vegas was known to have to potential for a big crash before the event started. The announcers, organizers, and racers were all talking about how small of a track it was, how high the speeds on that particular track were, and how many cars were racing. Greenwell shouldn't be saying that we should ban motorsport, but she should be saying that we should be proactive about safety. Wheldon's death was tragic and unnecessary, but hopefully it can do for IndyCar was Senna's did for F1. We would like to see a proactive safety movement sweep through IndyCar.
[Image credit: Eje Gustafsson]