August 24, 2015

IndyCar Driver Justin Wilson Dies After Debris Hit to Helmet: The English IndyCar racer Justin Wilson died Monday after a crash a day earlier in which car debris from another racer's crash struck him on the helmet. He was 37. Video from Pocono Raceway shows the nose cone of Sage Karam's car bouncing on the track after a one-car crash and striking Wilson's helmet, bouncing as high as 100 yards in the air afterwards. Jalopnik has video of the crash and more details. Wilson won seven races in a 12-year open track career. He's survived by a wife and two daughters. He's an organ donor, according to his brother, fellow IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson.

posted by rcade to auto racing at 09:35 PM - 3 comments

I've always wondered why there was open-cockpit racing in this day and age. Is there a reason why you want to have the head of the driver exposed like that? I understand it would be warm to fully enclose the cockpit, but you could put in air vents to allow air to move around, and easily install a quick-release mechanism for opening the cockpit.

It would protect the drive from flukes like this, and for when the car flips over.

Obviously, this is wonderful hindsight commentary, but I can't be the first person that has considered it.

posted by grum@work at 10:04 PM on August 24, 2015

Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director, recently said that they will be moving to a protected cockpit, although I don't think that's necessarily a reaction to this, with F1 having had its own share of safety issues. Indycar needs to rethink their spec for ovals, or cut them altogether. There's too much energy and too little margin for error with their current spec. There's a reason F1 doesn't run ovals, or tri-ovals, or whatever.

posted by feloniousmonk at 02:08 PM on August 25, 2015

To answer grum@work,

Because most other sports, wants to cling to tradition. Open wheel racing has been around for a very long time and for the traditionalists (Or just plain old folks like me!), we don't want to give up on that which have known and appreciated. That being said, I'd like to see a safer racing environment but believe that most would figure it as a diminished product. Not right, but basically how we function on a base level!

posted by R_A_Mason at 09:58 PM on August 25, 2015

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