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The Tragic Event of Death in Street Racing

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On just about any weekend during the year, fans of auto racing can attend in-person or watch on a live auto race. Part of the attraction is the danger and there is no argument that auto racing is an extremely dangerous sport, especially considering the mixture of speed, combustible fuel’s, and tight race scene conditions.

In 2011, the auto racing community was once again reminded of this factor when IndyCar League racing driver Dan Weldon was killed in an auto race at Las Vegas international Speedway. For some, Weldon‘s death was simply the result of poor judgment and Driver error that resulted in Weldon‘s death. In contrast, the other drivers and team owners in the racing community argued that cars were too fast and lacked safety features that could’ve help Weldon survive.

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In the world of auto racing, driver error or poor judgment usually results in an accident which may involve just the driver or multiple drivers and cars. In fact many of these accidents lead to deaths as there are an average of twenty auto racing related deaths yearly. In the case of Dan Weldon, some believe that his judgment to change driving lanes on the track while traveling over 200 mph is what caused the horrific accident which ended his life. In particular, his open wheel race car contacted another vehicle while changing track position sending Weldon and his car up and into the track fence which helps to protect spectators from cars and a breeze coming over from the track.

The argument stands that if Dan Weldon had not made the decision at that time to change position on the track he would have not collided with the other driver and the incident would have been avoided. Therefore, the result of the accident was believed to be poor judgment by Weldon.

In contrast, the argument by the other drivers and team owners in the IndyCar racing league that additional safety features could have saved Dan Weldon’s life. In fact, Dan Weldon was an outspoken advocate of safety features and had been working with engineers to design advanced safety features and asking the Indy Car League to incorporate them as soon as possible.

One of the designs was new body work that would provide for partial covering of the wheels on the race car. The advocates believe that this safety feature alo. ne would have prevented Weldon’s death because his car would not have launched when his car contacted the other race car. Another safety design was the development of the so called “halo” roll bar, similar to what is seen on many street driven convertibles, which helps to protect drivers heads and necks vehicles if they end up flipping the car and impacting the ground or another type of surface.

In the end, there is no argument that Dan Weldon’s auto racing death was a tragic event. The fact that he was participating in a dangerous sport cannot be argued but it does not come without arguments that support a need for more safety. In fact, design safety has helped to improve auto racing deaths to about half of what is was is in 2001 not only the Indy Racing League but also in the top tier Formula One series.

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