IndyCar drivers, officials meet to talk safety

Dan Wheldon, of England, smiles during driver introductions for the IndyCar Serie's Las Vegas Indy 300 auto race Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Las Vegas. Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, died following a crash in the race.
AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

Following last week's tragic death of Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, more than a dozen of his fellow drivers met with IndyCar officials Monday to talk about safety issues. As correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports, the drivers want to see significant changes in their sport.

With 34 cars jammed together at 225 miles per hour, there was little margin for error at the Oct. 16 race in Las Vegas. Just 11 laps in, Wheldon was caught up and killed in a fiery crash.

This past Sunday, racing colleagues, fans and family remembered the two-time Indy 500 winner. And the drivers followed up Monday, meeting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to talk about the accident and how to prevent more.

"How we react to this is critical and I'm very encouraged by what I saw today," IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti said.

Pictures: Dan Wheldon

Drivers shrugged off criticism of race series executives who ran the race at a track many said was too small for so many racers driving pedal to the metal.

"Finger pointing is not gonna do any good here at all," Franchitti said.

High-profile racing deaths have historically proven to be catalysts for change.

The death of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna in 1994 led to significant design changes to the car; no one has died in a Formula One race since.

After iconic NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt's death at Daytona in 2001, the league mandated softer crash walls and head and neck protection for drivers. There's hasn't been a stock car race death in more than a decade.

Ironically, Wheldon was test driving a new Indy car experts believe could save lives -- by being harder to control. They say the 2012 model will help weed out less talented drivers and cut down on overcrowded race tracks.

One thing drivers know: At 60 or at 200 plus miles per hour, you are only as safe as the driver next to you.