IZOD IndyCar Series champion team owner Chip Ganassi has come out in favor of significant changes to the series his squad has ruled over in recent years, following the death of Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas.
"It's a sad fact, but always something has to happen for there to be a step change," Ganassi told his hometown Pittsburgh Tribune Review newspaper before ceremonies revealing a renovated library at the Woolslair K-5 school in Bloomfield, a project funded by longtime Ganassi sponsor Target. "There needs to be a step change now. And there probably will be."
Wheldon, who drove for Ganassi from 2006 to '08, was killed in a 15-car pile-up during an IndyCar race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16. The accident was considered to be among the worst in the history of the sport, touching off renewed outcries for additional safety measures.
"Racing will never be 100 percent safe. We know that," Ganassi said. "But I think IndyCars have led the way."
Ganassi suggested changing the aerodynamic configuration of cars to suit individual tracks. "We can't race the same car at every racetrack," he said.
He also joined those who have suggested enclosing the cockpits, something the FIA has also investigated for Formula 1, with the aim of creating "a bubble the driver sits in much like a fighter jet pilot, a canopy." Ganassi added that he believes IndyCar should consider expanding rookie driver orientation as well as investigate ways to prevent cars getting airborne, although he cautioned that there can be no quick fixes for that: "When you're going that speed, you can fly a Sherman tank if you want to," he said.
"The gist of what came out of it, and what I'm trying to convey, is that it's not one thing," Ganassi said. "Six, eight, 10 things have to happen. It's not one thing that killed Dan Wheldon, and it's not one thing that's gonna make it safe for everybody."