IndyCar fans, officials mourn Dan Wheldon, search for answers
IndyCar officials have not yet addressed safety concerns about the motor sport, preferring to focus on mourning Dan Wheldon, as condolences continue to pour in from around the globe.
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In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the finger pointing had already begun as drivers questioned the wisdom of running the race on a lightning quick, high-banked 1-1/2 mile oval that had not staged an IndyCar event for 11 years.
Others expressed concern over the decision to run a large 34-car field sprinkled with part-time drivers unprepared for the extreme speeds and a 200 lap wheel-to-wheel dogfight.
Shaken IndyCar officials had no immediate response to the concerns, instead keeping the focus on Wheldon as condolences continued to pour in from around the sporting world.
The shock of the Briton's death has cut across all sporting boundaries and generations as past driving greats and casual fans mourned the 33-year-old father of two.
English soccer great Wayne Rooney and LeBron James of the National Basketball Association were among those to express their grief via Twitter as did Formula One champions Lewis Hamilton and Emerson Fittipaldi.
"I have seen many fine men/racers leave us prematurely over my lifetime," said Fittipaldi, a Formula One driving champion and Indy 500 winner who drove during one of motor sport's most dangerous eras. "It is an unfortunate part of our sport."
IndyCar's initial handling of the tragedy has been respectful and well-managed, says Ernest DelBuono, a crisis communications counselor for Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.
But as the days go on, he warns that officials must be prepared to respond to hard questions about safety and what could have been done to prevent the carnage that left Wheldon dead and sent two other drivers to the hospital.
"They (IndyCar) need to continue over the next several days to celebrate a championship driver, his accomplishments and sympathy for his family," DelBuono, vice-president of Levick Strategic Communications told Reuters. "And then they need to be thinking strategically.