'Ridiculous' IndyCar racing not safe, says Scheckter
17 October 2011 – Jody Scheckter has hit out at the safety standards in IndyCar racing after the multiple accident which resulted in the death of Dan Wheldon on Sunday. While competing in the season-ending race in Las Vegas, the Englishman’s car was launched into the air before impacting cockpit-first with the retaining wall and catch-fencing.
No less than 15 cars were destroyed in the collision, with Wheldon and two others flipping upside down before several cars – including that of the 33-year-old – caught fire. Watching from the paddock at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was 1979 Formula 1 World Champion Scheckter, whose son Tomas was competing.
“It was horrendous,” Scheckter Sr. told BBC Radio Berkshire. “There were flames everywhere and cars everywhere and it just seemed to carry on. More and more cars caught fire and it was just terrible, really. The laps before I could just see…it’s ridiculous.
“What they do is make them drive with wings which are flat, so even the worst drivers can drive at the speeds of everybody else, because everybody’s flat. They were going round, basically touching wheels at 220 miles an hour or whatever it is. I don’t think anything else could have happened; there’s 34 cars basically in the same bit of track and they were going four abreast into corners. So it was inevitable that somebody was going to crash - a few laps before that it was just madness.
“We were in one of the hospitality suits with my other son and you really just hope. We sort of grabbed each other, in a way. I had the headsets on which go through to his channel and then, eventually, he said, ‘Somebody hit me in the back,’ so I knew that he was okay after that. Dan raced against my sons in Formula Vauxhall in England, so we’ve known him for years, really.”
When asked if he believes IndyCar racing is safe, Scheckter plainly replied in the negative and added that he is encouraging his son to stop competing:
“No. It’s the most dangerous form of motor racing at the moment. I’ve told him I want him to stop – he hasn’t answered really, not yet. But I just think that the setup they put in to make it a spectacle just makes it very, very dangerous. On some of the other circuits it’s not quite so bad, but on this circuit they’re all wheel-to-wheel and nearly touching wheels all the time.”