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SBD/October 8, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies
Positioning Of Grandstand, Course Setup Questioned Following Houston IndyCar Wreck
Published October 8, 2013
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SAFETY CONCERNS: CNN.com's Michael Pearson wrote the issue of fan safety has "long been on IndyCar's agenda." The issue was "amplified two years ago, when two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died after his car struck a fence support" during IndyCar's season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. An IndyCar consultant last year said that it was "committed to investigating ways to better design barriers to prevent crash debris from reaching fans" (CNN.com, 10/7). NBC's Brian Williams said Franchitti's "frightening crash ... shook up the world of auto racing.” SI Senior Editor Richard O'Brien said of safety at tracks, "It's impossible to completely protect the spectators using the catch fencing as it exists now because it's something you can see through" ("Nightly News," NBC, 10/7).
LITTLE PROGRESS: The AP's Jenna Fryer wrote almost a year after the Hulman & Co. BOD ousted CEO Randy Bernard, "little progress has been made with IndyCar." Fryer: "In fact, some might argue the series has taken a step or two backward." The BOD elevated Mark Miles in late November to CEO, but "not much has been accomplished so far under his watch beyond the recently announced road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway." The Baltimore Grand Prix is "falling off the schedule after three years," and there "appears to be questions about the future of the event in Brazil" with the '14 schedule yet to be released. Series title sponsor Izod is "leaving at the end of the season, and Miles has yet to fill the role of head of IndyCar and IMS' commercial division -- the person who would likely be trying to replace Izod." So it is "fitting, really," that Franchitti's crash is "the one thing this season that has gotten IndyCar some mainstream attention." The accident was "replayed on television stations across the country and even made a morning show or two" yesterday. It came "with a hitch, though: At least one network mistakenly referred to IndyCar as NASCAR, and instead of recognizing Franchitti for his impressive racing resume, more than a few chose to identify him as the ex-husband of actress Ashley Judd" (AP, 10/7).