Dan Wheldon, one of IndyCar's biggest and most popular stars, died in a spectacular 15-car accident that racing veterans likened to something out of a movie scene or a war zone.
Now everyone — even those who never paid any attention to any form of motorsports let alone IndyCar — is demanding answers, just as they did 10 years ago when Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500.
The death of the seven-time champion in NASCAR's biggest race led to intense scrutiny. Now, two days after two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Wheldon died in a spectacular 15-car accident, IndyCar is facing similar questions.
Now, IndyCar officials must provide their own set of answers.
IndyCar chairman Randy Bernard did not kill Dan Wheldon. Fans have directed harsh words his way because Wheldon was racing Sunday for the $5 million bounty Bernard had offered him if he could win the race.
Placing blame won't help heal the grieving auto racing community or comfort Wheldon's widow and two young sons. It won't help Wheldon's brokenhearted family, led by his father, Clive, who so eloquently spoke Monday at home in England of a beloved 33-year-old who loved life and, by all accounts, never had a single enemy.
There's a ton of issues that must be addressed going forward, and although Bernard is the first to admit he's made mistakes in his first two years with IndyCar, there's no room for error going forward.
First up is the issue of racing on ovals.
The knee-jerk reaction is to call for a ban on IndyCars racing on ovals. Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said as much Monday, but he wasn't talking about a flat-out ban. The concern is ovals with high banking, which Las Vegas has, and how it fits with the speeds of an IndyCar.
Faced with an identity crisis and an urgency to build some momentum, the present IndyCar model calls for racing on ovals.
To continue on all ovals, though, will require some serious changes. IndyCar must break up pack racing. The only way to do that is to figure out a way that the cars can get some separation and drivers aren't forced to run wide open every lap to avoid being run over by the cars behind them.
Sunday's race was the final event for the series' current car. Wheldon spent this year as the development driver for the new car, which will debut next season with features intended to improve safety such as a wider cockpit, energy-absorbing materials underneath and behind the driver, and wide bodywork designed to prevent interlocking wheels in side-by-side racing.
But there's always room for more improvements, and driver Alex Tagliani on Twitter called on veterans Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay "to get together ... and push drastic changes."
Video: Motor sports coverage
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