By David G. Firestone
I didn’t mean to post the My Thoughts On article on Monday, but I’m glad I did. I need to address the Justin Wilson situation. Sadly, I’m having to do another article about a top level driver death this year. But I’m wondering if something will change for IndyCar design within the next few years.
Just to recap, Justin Wilson was a former Formula 1 and IndyCar driver, who has 7 wins total in Champ Car and IndyCar. He finished 2nd in 2006 and 2007, winning the Greg Moore Legacy Award in both years. He had 16 starts in Formula 1, but only scored on championship point, with no wins or podiums. He was signed to Andretti Autosport for the 2015 Indianapolis 500, and was brought on for the last 5 races of the year.
At the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono on lap 179, Sage Karem spun out, and hit the wall. The nose cone came off the car, and as Wilson drove through the scene, it hit Wilson in the head, and he crashed into the wall. As his car slowed to a stop, he was obviously unconscious, and had to be airlifted from the scene. He never regained consciousness, and died last night.
Obviously this is a tragedy, BUT there might be some good that comes of this. I’m really wondering if canopies will come to IndyCar. I discussed this after the 2014 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, where James Hinchcliffe was hit by a much smaller piece of debris and suffered a concussion. In that article, I discussed how I think IndyCar will get canopies at some point, similar to many NHRA dragsters. Tony Schumacher has stated that he started using a canopy on his dragster because he was scared that he would take a bird to the helmet, and the damage it would cause. Well, the piece that Wilson took was much larger than most birds than Schumacher would encounter.
Above and beyond that, the last two deaths in IndyCar, Dan Wheldon in 2011, and Wilson’s death could have been avoided if canopies had been added. I’m thinking that the canopies will be added starting within the next few years. The purists are going to scream when they are added, but I’d rather not see another driver die like that! This needs to happen soon!
No racing fan wants to see drivers die, that is a fact. But changes need to happen to prevent driver deaths, and this is the change that needs to happen. If the purists want to scream, let them, but I’m sick of seeing driver die! Remember that since 2011, in IndyCar and F1, there were 3 driver deaths that all could have easily been prevented with the addition of canopies, yet nobody wants to accept that they are needed.
I’m pleading with IndyCar, don’t listen to fans who are stuck in the past, do what’s right for your drivers!