Safety top priority at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Saturday's violent crash at Daytona has prompted the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to review its safety standards.
The frightening crash at the end of the NASCAR Nationwide race on Saturday sent debris into the stands injuring dozens of fans.
Saturday's crash at Daytona that injured 33 fans was terrifying to watch on television, but for Jeremy Carpenter of Bloomington, it was a little too close for comfort. He was only 100 feet away.
"It happened so fast you can't see it all but then you just see him come into the fence and parts just sprayed everywhere so I walk down to the fence at the bottom of our top level and there sat the motor and people pretty much laying around everywhere you know it was a bad sight ," said Carpenter.
The crash serves as a reminder that racing is a dangerous sport not only for the drivers, but also the fans, which is why the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is constantly evaluating their own safety measures.
"We have a full time engineer that pays attention to these safety issues and is already beginning to do the outreach and looking into what can we learn from this incident that we can change here if there are things that need to be changed," said track spokesman Doug Boles.
IMS safety has evolved in part from incidents that have happened at the track.
In 1987, a fan was killed when a tire flew into the grandstand and in 2006, five people were hurt from flying debris following a crash on the track.
The last tweak to the catch fencing the Speedway happened nearly ten years ago not during a race but during a test run.
In 2003 retired driver Mario Andretti crashed on the south end of the track-prompting change.
"Even though the catch fencing had done it's job we wanted to extend our overhang to make sure if we had another incident like that we could deal with it and make sure it was safe," explained Boles.
Three time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and other drivers were extremely vocal about safety barriers after Dan Wheldon was killed in Las Vegas nearly two years ago after his car catapulted into the fencing.
Shortly after Saturday's crash, Franchitti took to twitter restating his concerns. In a tweet he said "it's time IndyCar, NASCR, other sanctioning bodies & promoters work on an alternative to catch fencing. There has to be a better solution."
Boles says that conversation is already taking place, "It's a conversation at our facility at the Indy car series and I know at NASCAR everyday. Safety is our top priority."
While safety standards are constantly improving, racing is dangerous sport and that's something that will likely never change.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will open for the season on May 11th.