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DATE News (chronologically)
10/19/11
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Jimmie Johnson calls on IndyCar to quit ovals UPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, IndyCar should not quit oval tracks because of safety.  That can be fixed.  I like the canopy idea.  Would not work in every circumstance but I think it would in most.  IndyCar should quit high banked oval tracks for these reasons:
  1. Did you see the size of the crowd at Las Vegas, supposedly IndyCar's shining moment?  All IndyCar fans were given a free ticket to show up.  Hardly anyone bothered.  Maybe 15,000 in a stadium that holds 132,000.  IndyCar got another black eye - How many fans would have been there if they had to pay for the ticket?  Maybe 5,000? The oval track business model does not work for IndyCars. 
  2. Regardless of whether IndyCar were to slow the speeds, the cars will fly through the air and they will hit the catch fence again.  Even LeMans cars, which have enclosed wheels get airborne and fly through the air.  The issue is cost.  Did you see how many cars they destroyed?  Imagine if that was the new car and all those cars got wiped out. Imagine the replacement and repair bill.  IndyCar cannot afford oval tracks, the carnage is too costly.  Crashes at those speeds destroy cars.
  3. The driver's head is too exposed in the new car to race on ovals.  Whoever designed the new car that way is clueless.  They need to redesign it or add a canopy.  The canopy would look cool.  Have to do something to make that hideous looking car look better too.  Eric Smith
Jimmie Johnson took a lot of heat for what he said
10/19/11
Jimmie Johnson would like to clear up a few things about Indy cars, oval tracks, his pals in open wheel, safety and his interest in running the Indianapolis 500.

The 5-time NASCAR champion has been under siege since giving his views to the media after Dan Wheldon lost his life last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Johnson said he didn’t think Indy cars should continue racing on ovals at the speeds they currently run because it was too dangerous for drivers and fans with cars getting airborne.

What he meant, but maybe didn’t clarify, was what many people have been saying for years: Indy cars in a pack-racing environment on ovals that were built and banked for stock cars was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

And it finally resulted in a 15-car accident that had cars flying through the air and claimed the life of a two-time Indy winner.

“I knew Dan and what happened really bothered me and I just wanted to say how I felt, that it was a tragedy and I didn’t think they needed to be running on those fast ovals,’’ Johnson told SPEED.com on Wednesday.

“And then I said I hoped things would improve if they continued to race on them because you can’t have cars getting airborne. The catch fence eats vehicles and puts the drivers and spectators at great risk, that’s why we have restrictor plates.

“We hate that kind of racing at Daytona and Talladega and we’ve got restrictor plates so I can’t imagine the bravery it takes in an Indy car.”

Since the firestorm, JJ has called Paul Tracy, Dario Franchitti, Will Power and spoke with A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Tony Kanaan and INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard.

“The last thing I wanted to do was upset the open-wheel community. I’m a huge fan of Indy car racing. I watch it all the time and I have some good friends over there,” he continued.

“P.T., Dario and Will all understood what I was talking about and my conversation with Randy went well.”

Tracy chuckled when Johnson rang him up. “He wanted to know if I was mad at him and I said, ‘of course not,’’’ related the 2003 CART champion. “I told him he was right, that we needed to make some changes if we were going to continue running on those 1.5-mile ovals.” Speedtv.com

10/17/11 Five-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson called on IndyCar to stop racing on ovals in the wake of Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon's death.

Wheldon was killed in a 15-car accident in Sunday's season finale IndyCar race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a high banked, 1.5-mile oval.

"I wouldn't run them on ovals. There's just no need to," Johnson said Monday during a test session at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Those cars are fantastic for street circuits, for road courses. I hate, hate, hate that this tragedy took place. But hopefully they can learn from it and make those cars safer on ovals somehow.

"I don't know how they can really do it. Myself, I have a lot of friends that race in that series, and I'd just rather see them on street circuits and road courses. No more ovals."

Johnson was in his own frightening accident Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where his car hit headfirst into the wall. The back wheels briefly lifted off the track, but Johnson walked away and suffered only next-day soreness.

He's always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500, but when his daughter was born last year, Johnson said he promised his wife he would not drive an IndyCar. The combination of the speeds and the car design — an IndyCar has an open cockpit and open wheels that can't withstand the bumping that occurs on ovals — has made him gun shy about racing cars that don't have a roof.

"Their average was 225? I've never been 225 mph in my life — and that's their average around an oval. They are brave men and women that drive those things," Johnson said. "There's very little crumple zone around the driver, it's an open cockpit and then you add open wheels — it's just creating situations to get the car off the ground at a high rate of speed. And you can't control the car when it's off the ground." NBC Sports/AP

[Editor's Note: We cannot count the number of articles AR1.com has published over the years about the lunacy of racing open wheel cars on high banked tracks in 'packs'.  No one in the IRL (now IndyCar) wanted to listen because a few vocal fans of this racing said they had to have ovals.  Recall we used to publish the injury report tables showing the IRL oval injuries and deaths vs. the CART/Champ Car road and street circuit injuries and deaths.  The comparisons were frightening.  We can republish those stats so you can see.  The bottom line is that as exciting as it is to watch open wheel cars run in packs at over 200 MPH, we are not the ones in the driver’s seat putting our lives on the line.  It's pure lunacy.  Even the NASCAR drivers hate the pack racing at Daytona and Talladega, but at least in a stock car you have more protection.  In an open wheel car the drivers are just sacrificial lambs, with death just around the corner.  The carnage of man and machine on Sunday at Las Vegas was beyond belief.]

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