After the death of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Dan Wheldon in the horrendous crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, many pundits have weighed in on the tragedy, blaming the track, the crowded field, and the speeds.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, the iconic Bobby Unser, never one to shy away from voicing his opinion, insists that what happened at Las Vegas was not simply the result of one issue, but a set of circumstances that have accumulated over the years in IndyCar racing.
“It was the perfect storm,” explains Unser. “And, IndyCar racing has been very fortunate. It could've happened at anytime over the past six years, and they're very fortunate that more drivers weren't hurt in that mess at Las Vegas.
“No, it's not the track, not the speeds,” continues Unser, who helped lead IndyCar into the stratosphere of speed with his development, and engineering efforts on the Gurney Eagles of the early 1970s, “it's the cars.
“For a lot of reasons, IndyCar racing has become a spec series. Every car is exactly the same, and everything is spelled out in the rules. Even down to the size of the mirrors. It's ridiculous.
“It's created this pack racing, which is not racing at all. And, no one likes it; the drivers, the fans. At first pack racing was exciting for the fans, but then they realized that there was no passing. It was just guys running side by side. They don't want this pack racing, now. IndyCar tried to emulate NASCAR, but NASCAR fans don't want pack racing either.
“I had a sit down with Randy Bernard, and told him, ‘Listen to what the fans want. That's what we have to do. It doesn't matter what you want, or Bobby Unser wants. It's what the fans want.'
“These cars have so little horsepower and so much downforce,” continues Unser animatedly, “that you can take a hitchhiker off the street, and put him in a car, and if he'll just do what he's told, he can drive that car wide open. He couldn't race, because he doesn't have the experience, but he could drive flat-out. That's not right.
“They need to go to work, and up the horsepower, and get rid of a lot of the aerodynamic rules. The rule book needs to be half the size it is now. Make the guys have to back off, and the cars will separate. The racing becomes safer, and better, because a guy can actually pass.
“Believe me, it doesn't take a genius to see this, but the leadership needs to make it happen.”