Racing is crazy, let’s keep it that way
In the wake of Dan Wheldon’s tragic death in an Indy Car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway everyone and their brother has written something about it. Make the cars safer. Slow them down. Reduce the downforce. Fix the tracks. Some have even suggested that it is time to ban motorsports all together. Everyone is entitled to an opinion – it’s a free country and blogging is free too – but most of these so-called experts are nothing more than professional talkers who actual gain more when there is a tragedy like this as people actually read what they write. If Wheldon hadn’t been killed I suspect I wouldn’t have seen more than a side blurb in the main stream media regarding the race. With the tragedy all of a sudden everyone is a motorsport expert.
The one solution that I haven’t seen suggested anywhere is simulation. Why not get rid of the cars all-together and make the professional drivers race online. The technology already exists. It’s called iRacing.com (yes I work for the company). You can race a virtual Indycar, NASCAR Cup car, Formula One car or practically anything else. It is completely safe, low emissions and very inexpensive. What’s not to like? I suppose the safety equipment manufacturers would lose out but they could start making sim racing equipment instead as the market would surely grow.
So what do you think? Ludicrous? Absolutely. Without real-world motorsports there is no sport of racing online. The danger, the speeds and the ridiculousness of real world motorsports are what make sim-racing possible. Those of us who do sim race know that we are not actually racing. We know that we can’t crash and get hurt or killed. We know that we don’t have the high cost of fuel and tires to worry about. That’s why it is so appealing to us – duh.
Motorsport has always been dangerous. It has also continued to get safer. If you think that the motorsport community only thinks about safety when someone is killed you are sorely mistaken. Next year’s Indy car, the safer DW12, was well under development (ironically with Wheldon as a test driver) well before the accident. The media only talks about safety when it sells papers or TV ratings.
Let’s not let the media guide motorsport. Let those who know what they are doing make the decisions – drivers, sanctioning bodies, car designers. These are the people that can actually make a difference. They already have and they will continue to as long as we let them do their jobs.
RIP Dan and every other driver who has lost their life doing what they love.