IndyCar pits some of the world’s best drivers in some of the world’s fastest cars against each other. But it has one glaring problem: safety.
If you take a grid of some of the world’s fastest cars, throw them on an oval track, and watch them get up to speeds of 220 MPH, you’re going to have safety concerns. There’s just no way that such a sport can exist without offering a hefty dose of risk toward death and dismemberment. While the IndyCar series has made great strides in recent years to combat the tide of accidents, there is still much room for improvement – as was made evident by the disaster of the RainGuard Water Sealer 600 race at the Texas Motor Speedway.
The “race” finished with only six cars making it past the finish line by the end of the race – the rest being collected through various points in the race which saw them retire with DNFs. While accidents and early race retirements are a part of any motorsport, the problem was exacerbated by the fact that the Texas Motor Speedway simply does not offer Indy drivers the space needed to flex their mechanical muscles to the max. Instead, one small mistake sent driver after driver into others, tipping them like dominos.
While crashing and carnage may have resulted in prime entertainment for some section of the IndyCar spectatorship, one absentee driver had more than enough to say regarding the public’s perception of such a dismal race. Sebastien Bourdais, who is currently recuperating from a broken pelvis which he sustained in qualifying for the Indy 500, watched the train wreck unfold from his bed – and was quick to condemn the praise of numerous accidents:
“I keep hearing and reading comments that I feel in disbelief about; people saying, ‘This was awesome! This was such a great show!’ and I’m like, ‘Man, oh man, people are suffering short-memory syndrome, big time.’
It’s not all about the show. It’s about making sure that we can race, and race hard but don’t put the drivers and teams and series in a spot where we shouldn’t be. It’s all fun and games until somebody dies. And then what?
As soon as that green flag dropped, I was holding my phone and shaking, praying that nobody would get hurt. That is not how these races should be.”
– Sebastien Bourdais
Bourdais isn’t wrong. Crashes and carnage out on the track are an inescapable part of racing, but they should not be front and center. To continue propagating these sort of races – whether by intention or by ignorance – is to needlessly risk the lives of individuals who all want to get back safely to their families at the end of the day.
There has not been an official statement from the series or the track in regards to the events of the race, but something tells us that the Texas Motor Speedway will be due for another track extension much sooner than later.