In a June interview that seems eerily prescient in light of Dan Wheldon’s death, IndyCar Chief Executive Randy Bernard promised more “carnage and wrecks” in the upcoming races. IndyCar, struggling to compete with the more popular NASCAR, was attempting to make its races more exciting by increasing the risks: more drivers, pushed closer together via side-by-side racing, meaning a heightened possibility of collisions. The Las Vegas race, in particular, was promised to be “wild” due to a fast and smooth track, the Wall Street Journal reports. Also increasing the buzz was a dangerous publicity stunt Wheldon was taking part in, in which he would win $5 million if he could win after starting in last place.
Drivers had concerns about the Las Vegas track, the AP adds: Smooth corners encouraged drivers to maintain speed, ensuring that cars would bunch up around corners on the oval track; 34 drivers meant the largest field of the season—and some of them were relatively inexperienced; IndyCars had not raced on the track since 2000 and had very little time to prepare. In Britain, tributes to Wheldon were placed in his home village, the AP reports. His family was thanking supporters and remembering Wheldon, who “was born to be a racer and … left us doing what he loved,” his father said. The coroner has concluded Wheldon died of blunt trauma to the head. The other three drivers who were injured in the crash have been released from the hospital, Yahoo! Sports adds. (Read more Dan Wheldon stories.)