​Indy 500: What's with all the airborne crashes?

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's been a rough week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There have been four spectacular accidents during practice runs; three saw cars get airborne and flip.

"Three of us have gotten upside down. I was the third," said Ed Carpenter.

Carpenter lost control of his car Sunday. He credits his car's design for walking away without a scratch despite flipping in a car going 230 miles an hour.

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Ed Carpenter CBS News

But a new design feature -- called an "aero kit," basically the car's body and aerodynamic wings -- is raising concerns for those searching for "why" the cars went flying. Indy car makers have started designing them so fans can tell the cars apart.

"I think the fans wanted differentiation," said previous Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal. "You know for years you had 33 identical race cars."

Rahal won the Indy 500 in 1986 and now owns the car his son Graham will race Sunday.

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A car goes airborne during a practice run ahead of the Indy 500 CBS News

"Frankly when you have one car take off, then you have another, you go 'holy smokes' and no one wants the risk of somebody else doing that," said Graham.

Carpenter says he doesn't know why his car went airborne and admits there probably won't be a solution in time for Sunday's race.

Immediately after the crashes, race officials met with the car makers and they all agreed to lower the engines' horsepower and change the aerodynamics to slow the cars down.

  • Jim Axelrod
    Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.