Saturday, August 30, 2014

Knee-Jerk

As Winston Churchill and House of Cards has taught me: To improve is to change; to perfect is to change often. This saying definitely applies to Indycar and racing in general. Those in charge of racing, like Bernie Eccesltone, Brian France, and Mark Miles, are always tasked to stay ahead of the curve and to make positive changes. Indycar, however, cannot overreact to last nights crash that involved Mikhail Aleshin, Charlie Kimball, and Marco Andretti, which left Aleshin with a broken clavicle, broken ribs, and a concussion.

Racing is a dangerous sport.

Aleshin seemed to touch the white line on the bottom of turn three, sending his car into a spin at the wall right into the path of Kimball. Aleshin, a rookie from Russia driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, was struck by Kimball and sent into the catch fence nose first, sending the car into a violent roll. Andretti arrived later and spun to miss large pieces of debris. We all feared the worst on Mikhail's condition, before we got news that he was "okay."

Racing is a dangerous sport.

Now, back to my quote about change. Is there could change that could come from this? Of course there is. Maybe one day, we can find a better solution to catch fencing. Maybe Dallara can work on a way to keep the cars grounded on a side impact (we've seen DW12s prone to lifting off the ground a bit on big impacts, though it's hard to know if Mikhail's car would have gotten airborne had Kimball not made contact). Minor changes would be welcomed by Indycar in my eyes. But....

Racing is a dangerous sport.

Any track you go to, whether it is St. Petersburg, Iowa, Mid-Ohio, or Fontana, is dangerous. At any moment, something violent can happen. Even though some places are more prone for violent crashes (Fontana, Indy, and other high speed ovals), we cannot simply just do away with the tracks or just make major wholesale changes / derail future ideas. One idea I fear might just go out the window after an incident like this is increasing the horsepower / speed of Indycars. More speed would help bring fans back and increase the excitement of the racing, but it was also multiply the seriousness of a crash and leave drivers at a greater risk. Other large scale changes are prone to happen after a massive crash like we just saw.


Racing is a dangerous sport.

Danger is just part of Indycar. It can happen at any track. A near miss happened when
Martin Plowman got airborne and nearly struck the drivers' cockpit of Franck Montangy
at Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Thankfully everyone walked away okay. But this highlights
that danger is around every corner in Indycar (Photo: Eric Anderson / Indycar Media)

I personally don't want to watch racing if it equates to the danger level of under water basket weaving. One of the allures to racing is that a driver is constantly having to weigh risk vs. reward. Sometimes, it all goes wrong. While I obviously never wish ill upon on any racing driver, the danger is something that keeps my eyes glued to the television at all times during a race, knowing that at any moment, shit could hit the fan. That's exciting. My friend Eric Hall once wrote my favorite piece on Indycar and why it is the ultimate reality TV Show. If you've never read it, please do because I often consider it my favorite blog article of all-time.

Racing is a dangerous sport.

Can Indycar make the sport safer gradually over time? Absolutely. I think anyone can get behind that. But is making a bunch of knee jerk decisions in light of what happened last night. Can change be good? Yes. Can a lot of change be good? Yes. Would changing the sport for the worse, like removing dangerous tracks from the schedule good? No. Why? Because every track has the potential to be dangerous. And no matter how many change you make to the car, track, etc., know that racing will always have that risk of going south at any moment. If you've learned nothing from my words this morning, just remember this:

Racing is a dangerous sport.


Hoping for a speedy recovery for Mikhail Aleshin and a safe race tonight. Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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