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IRL doctor wants to replace safety fences
The orthopedic surgeon repairing the shredded feet of race car driver Pablo Perez in Indianapolis says safer fences are the sport's next innovation frontier. The journey is under way.

Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart confirmed Saturday that he has commissioned the University of Nebraska's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility in Lincoln to build a smooth barrier to replace the fences at race tracks that include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Think of a hockey rink with a clear shield on top of the wall.

"It's something that needs to be done," he said. "What we have now is a system of fence and posts, and it's not made to protect the competitors."

But Perez is the latest example of gruesome injuries from striking a fence. Perez's car was launched into the air last weekend by tire-to-tire contact in the Indy Pro Series race at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. The nose snagged in the fence, ripping the front end apart and exposing his feet. Amputation was considered.

Dr. Kevin Scheid, the Indianapolis-based orthopedic surgeon who specializes in injuries to open-wheel drivers, said Perez's injuries were similar to those of Alessandro Zampedri (Indy 1996), Davey Hamilton (Texas 2001) and Tom Wood (Kentucky 2003). Essentially, their lower extremities had to be rebuilt from scratch, ankles and all.

Wood's injuries came from hitting the wall, but fences and their posts were factors in the Indy-car crashes of Kenny Brack (Texas 2003), Tony Renna (Indy 2003) and Ryan Briscoe (Chicago 2005). Renna lost his life.

"It's not very often that we've had (so many) in a 10-year span," Scheid said earlier this week after surgery on Perez at Methodist Hospital. "It's our new dilemma." Indy Star

[Editor's Note: Another weight (besides the fact he has pretty much destroyed the sport) that Tony George must carry around on his shoulders is all the drivers he has injured and killed since the IRL was formed because of his "vision" of what Indy Car racing should be.  Perez is just his latest victim.  See a list of his victims in this article.]

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