Wheldon's was the first IndyCar death since Paul Dana in 2006. Tony Renna died in a wreck at Indianapolis three years earlier and Scott Brayton died in a crash in 1996.
But give IndyCar credit for safety measures introduced in recent years. Drivers cite softer, energy-absorbing walls and the HANS device that restrains the driver's neck and shoulders as two of the most important ones.
And this year alone, changes were made to the car chassis that included a larger, safer cockpit with more foam around the drver's seat, vertical wings to keep the wheels from hitting the car's side pods in a crash and wheel guards to limit wheel-to-wheel contact.
The drivers, of course, don't dwell on how dangerous their job is. They can't. You'd be a basket case if you climbed into the cockpit for every race wondering if it was your last day on earth.
"I think it's something we just accept," Hinchcliffe said. "IndyCar has made tremendous strides on safety whether it's with the cars, the tracks , driver equipment, all sorts of things. And every development is one thing safer for us and one percentage point less likely that we'll get injured.
"But at the end of the day, it's a risky business. And you're never going to eliminate risk in the sport. As drivers, we know it's something that comes with the territory. And when you strap into the car, you're not thinking about it. You're thinking about going fast."
Or as the great A.J. Foyt always says: "Speed is what the people come to see."
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