IndyCar’s reputation being damaged by oval races

Dan Wheldon was severely injured before in IndyCar oval racing. This time it was fatal

We have written for a long time how damaging oval track racing is to IndyCar's reputation because you cannot hide the horrible attendance in grandstands built for NASCAR size crowds. Sunday was no exception. Despite giving away for free, upwards of 80,000 tickets to the event, if 15,000 showed up, that was a lot. 15,000 in a stadium that holds 132,000. It looked bad for IndyCar for what was supposed to be their 'grand' finale.

And then it got worse when Dan Wheldon was killed. Reaction from the racing fraternity worldwide with regard to the lunacy of racing open wheel cars on high banked ovals in 'packs' has been even more damaging. This 'pack' racing mentality was there since the day the IRL was hatched by Anton George. He and Brian Barnhart thought they could create a 'pack' racing product much like NASCAR and sell it to NASCAR race tracks.

At the same time George got in bed with the enemy – NASCAR – in his efforts to destroy the most successful IndyCar Series of all-time – CART, which he eventually did with voodoo economics (propping up a money-losing business with family money) while CART was running their series like a real business. As such, through the years countless drivers have been maimed or killed. So not only did George nearly destroy IndyCar racing by splitting it in two, he created a very dangerous form of IndyCar racing.

And that 'pack' racing mentality really bit them in the posterior this past weekend. The negative statements by the racing fraternity regarding the lunacy of this 'pack' racing has been extremely damaging.

"It is the most dangerous form of motor racing at the moment," 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter, who wants his son Tomas to quit IndyCar, told the BBC.

Also criticized since the crash has been the small size of the Las Vegas speedway, the large number of competing cars, the skills of some of the drivers and the very nature of high speed oval racing.

Former Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson, a former junior rival of Wheldon's, said: "The safety record in IndyCar is not good and I would never drive there. It's just not worth it. The cars are agricultural."

Agreed David Coulthard – who moved to German touring cars after retiring from F1 in 2008 – in his Telegraph column: "I could have moved my family over there and made a life for myself in the United States.

"But the risk-reward ratio was simply too high for me. Formula one, I felt, was at an acceptable level but IndyCar was, and is, probably 20 years behind F1 in terms of safety."

Former McLaren driver Mark Blundell, who has also raced in America, added: "These kinds of cars shouldn't have been running on these kinds of circuits."

Stewart told Sky Sports: "It was such high speed on such a small track with too many cars together and not that many top racing drivers in there.

"It may be that we have to have smaller engines with smaller horsepower and slower speeds in IndyCar racing."

But Johnny Herbert, who flirted with a switch to America after retiring from F1 in 2000, thinks IndyCar fatalities are inevitable.

"They will continue as long as this extreme form of motor sport exists," the Briton wrote in his column for The National.

"The tremendous speed at which the cars travel, while separated by inches on those steep oval tracks, means you will likely see more deaths, no matter what safety measures are implemented."

Mr. George. Mr. Barnhart. Take a bow. Look what you've done.

We kept detailed records on the injuries on ovals vs. road courses and the IRL vs. CART until the two series were merged. You decide.

Detailed Injury Listing – IRL and CART/Champ Car


Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Butch Brickell Disney Oval Broken Neck
2. IRL Eliseo Salazar Disney Oval Broken Leg
3. IRL Roberto Guerrero Disney Oval Concussion
4. IRL Eddie Cheever Phoenix Oval Concussion
5. IRL Stan Wattles Phoenix Oval Concussion
6. IRL Buddy Lazier Phoenix Oval Broken back
7. IRL Scott Brayton Indy Oval FATALITY
8. IRL Billy Boat Indy Oval Shoulder Separation
9. IRL Dan Drinan Indy Oval Broken Pelvis
10. IRL Lyn St. James Indy Oval Broken Wrist
11. IRL A. Zampedri Indy Oval Broken Feet/Ankles
12. IRL Brad Murphey Las Vegas Oval Broken Hip
13. IRL Tony Stewart Las Vegas Oval Broken Shoulder
14. IRL Mark Dismore Las Vegas Oval Broken Pelvis
1. CART Parker Johnstone Homestead Oval Concussion
2. CART Scott Goodyear Rio Oval Broken Back (Thoracic compression fracture)
3. CART Mark Blundell Rio Oval Rib and foot fractures
4. CART Jeff Krosnoff Toronto Street FATALITY
CART Gary Avrin Toronto Street FATALITY (Corner worker)
5. CART Paul Tracy Michigan Oval Fractured Vertebrae
6. CART Emerson Fittipaldi Michigan Oval Neck fracture
7. CART Parker Johnstone Elkhart Lake Road Hospitalized/Soft Tissue
1997 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Eliseo Salazar Disney Oval Broken Back (Thoracic compression fracture)
2. IRL Davy Jones Disney Oval Head/Neck/Neuro
3. IRL Kenny Brack Phoenix Oval Concussion
4. IRL Sam Schmidt Phoenix Oval Spinal Fracture (Thoracic compression fracture)
5. IRL Jeret Schroeder Phoenix Oval Concussion
6. IRL Scott Sharp Indy Oval Head/Cerebral Hemorrhage
7. IRL John Paul, Jr. Indy Oval Broken Leg
8. IRL Johnny O'Connell Indy Oval Broken Foot
9. IRL Robby Gordon Indy Oval 2nd/3rd Degree Burns
10. IRL Paul Durant Indy Oval Broken Pelvis/Concussion
11. IRL Mike Groff Texas Oval Broken Leg
12. IRL Robbie Buhl Colorado Oval Concussion
13. IRL Jim Guthrie Colorado Oval Broken Back (Thoracic compression fracture?)
14. IRL Scott Sharp Colorado Oval Cerebral Hemorrhage
15. IRL Buzz Caulkins Loudon Oval Fractured Skull/Broken Ankle
16. IRL Mike Groff Loudon Oval Concussion
17. IRL Davey Hamilton Las Vegas Oval Concussion
18. IRL John Paul, Jr. Las Vegas Oval Concussion
19. IRL Jimmy Kite Las Vegas Oval Concussion
1. CART Christian Fittipaldi Australia Street Broken Leg
2. CART Bryan Herta Australia Street Broken Hand
3. CART Parker Johnstone Michigan Oval Facial Laceration
4. CART Bobby Rahal Michigan Oval Bruised Hip
5. CART Patrick Carpentier Fontana Oval Concussion
6. CART Alex Zanardi Fontana Oval Concussion
7. CART Arie Luyendyk Fontana Oval Concussion
1998 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
(A.) FF2000 Thiago Bezerra Disney Oval Severe head injuries (Not included in totals)
(B) FF2000 Bill Tichenor Phoenix Oval Severe head injuries (Not included in totals)
1. IRL Mike Groff Phoenix Oval Concussion
2. IRL Danny Ongais Indy Oval Concussion
3. IRL Jim Guthrie Indy Oval Broken Elbow
4. IRL Mark Dismore Texas Oval Concussion
5. IRL Billy Boat Loudon Oval Broken Leg & Pelvis
6. IRL Eliseo Salazar Dover Oval Broken Leg/Hip/Arm/Pelvis (I.e. entire right side)
1. CART Dennis Vitolo Homestead Oval Burns/Broken Finger
2. CART Christian Fittipaldi Milwaukee Oval Concussion
CART 3 spectators Michigan Oval 3 FATALITIES
3. CART Andre Ribeiro Elkhart Lake Road Fractured Leg
1999 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Stan Wattles Atlanta Oval Broken back
2. IRL 3 Spectators Charlotte Oval 3 Fatalities
3. IRL (3 Crewman) Texas Oval 3 Hospitalized multitude of injuries
4. IRL Sam Schmidt Texas Oval Severe Foot Injury
5. IRL Robby Unser Texas Oval Back Injury/Hospitalized
1. CART Shigeaki Hattori Homestead Oval Concussion
2. CART Al Unser, Jr. Homestead Oval Broken Ankle
3. CART Naoki Hattori Homestead Oval Broken Leg
4. CART Mark Blundell Gateway Oval Broken Neck
CART Crewman (Andretti) Milwaukee Oval Fractured Skull
5. CART Christian Fittipaldi Gateway Oval Concussion
6. CART Patrick Carpentier Detroit Road Broken Back (Thoracic compression fracture)
7. CART Gonzalo Rodriguez Laguna Seca Road FATALITY
8. CART Greg Moore Fontana Oval FATALITY
2000 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Sam Schmidt Disney Oval Paralyzed/Broken Neck
2. IRL Davey Hamilton Disney Oval Hospitalized/Back Injury
3. IRL Jacques Lazier Disney Oval Broken Back (Thoracic compression fracture)
4. IRL Tyce Carlson Indy Oval Concussion
5. IRL Hideshi Matsuda Indy Oval Broken Wrist/Knee/Concussion
6. IRL Al Unser, Jr. Kentucky Oval Bruised leg
1. CART Dario Franchitti Homestead Oval Broken Pelvis/Concussion
2. CART Tony Kanaan Detroit Road Broken Arm/Ribs
3. CART Takuya Kurosawa Michigan Oval Concussion
4. CART Christian Fittipaldi Chicago Oval Concussion
2001 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Greg Ray Homestead Oval Concussion
2. IRL Nicholas Minassian Indy (Test) Oval Soft Tissue
3. IRL Casey Mears Indy Oval Concussion (Mild)
4. IRL Jack Miller Atlanta Oval Concussion
5. IRL Scott Goodyear Indy Oval Fractured Vertebrae (Thoracic compression fracture)
6. IRL Davy Hamilton Texas Oval Severe fractures of both feet/Leg
7. IRL Robby McGehee Texas Oval Broken Leg/Concussion
8. IRL Shigeaki Hattori Colorado Oval Concussion
9. IRL Greg Ray Richmond Oval Soft Tissue
10. IRL Sam Hornish Indy Oval Concussion
1. CART Patrick Carpentier Long Beach Street Fractured Wrist
2. CART Mauricio Gugelmin Texas Oval Soft Tissue
3. CART Tony Kanaan Detroit Road Concussion
4. CART Mauricio Gugelmin Chicago Oval Minor cuts
5. CART Memo Gidley Elkhart Lake Road Bone Contusion/Soft Tissue
6. CART Alex Zanardi Lausitzring Oval Loss of Legs/Internal Injuries/Concussion
2002 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Donnie Beechler Homestead Oval Concussion
2. IRL Anthony Lazzaro Phoenix Oval Fractured Vertebrae (Thoracic compression fracture)
3. IRL Robbie Buhl California Oval Concussion
4. IRL Eliseo Salazar Indy Oval Torn Artery/Broken back (Thoracic compr. fracture)
5. IRL Jacques Lazier Nazareth Oval Broken Back (2nd Thoracic compression fracture)
6. IRL Thomas Scheckter Nazareth Oval Lung Contusion/Concussion
7. IRL Robby McGehee Indy Oval Fractured Leg
8. IRL P.J. Jones Indy Oval Fractured Neck
9. IRL Mark Dismore Indy Oval Concussion
10. IRL Paul Tracy Indy Oval Soft Tissue – Knee
11. IRL Laurent Redon Indy Oval Concussion
12. IRL Laurent Redon Richmond Oval Fractured Fingertips (Two on left hand)
IRL Matt Halliday (IPS) Kansas Oval Concussion/Wrist fracture
IRL Jason Priestly (IPS) Kentucky Oval Head/neck Injuries
IRL Bernie Hallisky (Crew) Kentucky Oval Broken Hip/Pelvis
13. IRL Richie Hearn Kentucky Oval Broken Ankle
14. IRL Gil de Ferran Chicagoland Oval Concussion, Broken wrist
1. CART Adrian Fernandez Vancouver Street Hairline Pelvis fracture/Hairline Sacral fracture
2. CART Adrian Fernandez Surfers Street Fractured Vertebrae
3. CART Tora Takagi Surfers Street Hairline Pelvis fracture
2003 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Gil de Ferran Phoenix Oval Concussion & Fractured Vertebrae
2. IRL Roger Yasukawa Phoenix Oval Back Pain, kept overnight
3. IRL Tony Kanaan Motegi Oval Broken wrist/arm
4. IRL Scott Dixon Motegi Oval Broken wrist/hand
5. IRL Craig Dollansky Indy Oval Broken lower back
6 IRL Arie Luyendyk Indy Oval Unspecified injuries to upper back
7. IRL Airton Daire Texas Oval Broken hip, pelvis, leg and arm
8. IRL Felipe Giaffone Kansas Oval Broken pelvis & right thigh
9. IRL Vitor Meira Kentucky Oval Broken wrist
10. IRL Tom Wood (IPS) Kentucky Oval Broken middle back, right knee, right foot & both ankles
11 IRL Sarah Fisher Nazareth Oval Airlifted, Contusion of the back
12 IRL Kenny Brack Texas Oval Broken back, femur, ankles, sternum
13 IRL Tony Renna Indy Testing Oval FATALITY 10/22/03
1 CART Tiago Monteiro Cleveland Road Concussion
2004 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Scott Dixon Milwaukee Oval Chipped bone in thumb, sprained ankle
2. IRL Dario Franchitti Texas Oval Broken foot
1. Champ Car Patrick Carpentier Surfers Paradise Street Concussion
2005 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Danica Patrick Homestead Oval Concussion
2. IRL Tomas Enge Motegi Oval Broken ribs
3. IRL Paul Dana Indianapolis Oval Compression fractures of 2 vertebra
4. IRL Buddy Rice Indianapolis Oval Concussion, severe back contusions, partially torn spinal ligament
5. IRL Bruno Junqueira Indianapolis Oval Concussion, Broken back, broken ankle
6. IRL Larry Foyt Indianapolis Oval Chipped vertebra
7. IRL Tomas Enge Nashville Oval Fractures to his T-12 and L-1 vertebra
8. IRL Ryan Briscoe Chicagoland Oval Fractures to both clavicles, bad concussion, bruised lung, possibly more
1. Champ Car Timo Glock Milwaukee (Test) Oval Concussion
2 Champ Car Ryan Hunter Reay Milwaukee (Test) Oval Bruised Lung
2006 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IRL Paul Dana Homestead Oval Fatality from massive injuries
2. IRL Ed Carpenter Homestead Oval Bruised Lung
3. Champ Car Cristiano da Matta Road America RC Severe head injury – hit deer in testing – Canopy would have prevented injuries
2007* Series Driver Venue Type Injury*
1. Champ Car Alex Figge Long Beach Street Back injuries
2. IndyCar Ryan Dalziel Homestead Oval Broken Collarbone
3 IndyCar Paul Tracy Long Beach Street Back injury
4. Champ Car Tristan Gommendy Edmonton RC Broken back
2008 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IndyCar Dan Wheldon Las Vegas Oval Injured right ankle after barrelroll
2. IndyCar Enrique Bernoldi Sonoma RC Missed final 3 races – sprained thumb
2009 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IndyCar Vitor Meira Indianapolis Oval Two fractured Vertebra Out for season
2. IndyCar Tony Kanaan Edmonton RC Burns to hands from pit lane fire
3. IndyCar Nelson Phillipe Infineon RC Fractured Foot
4. IndyCar Will Power Infineon RC Fractured two Vertebra
2010 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IndyCar Mike Conway Indianapolis Oval Multiple leg fractures
2011 Series Driver Venue Type Injury
1. IndyCar Ana Beatriz Barber RC Sprained Wrist
2. IndyCar Simona de Silvestro Indy Oval Burns to both hands practice accident
3. IndyCar Justin Wilson Mid-Ohio RC Fractured back in freak accident
4. IndyCar Eric Scheumann Kentucky Oval Multiple leg fractures in pit accident
5. IndyCar D. J. McMahon Kentucky Oval Broken knee in pit accident
6. IndyCar Dan Wheldon Las Vegas Oval FATALITY from massive head injuries
7. IndyCar Pippa Mann Las Vegas Oval Burned Finger in 15-car Wheldon accident
8. IndyCar J.R. Hildebrand Las Vegas Oval Bruised Sternum in 15-car Wheldon accident
9. IndyCar Will Power Las Vegas Oval Compression fracture of 4th thoracic vertebra

*Records after 2006 may not be complete

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