TRACK greats have united to accuse America’s IndyCar series of allowing dangerous driving conditions after British racer Dan Wheldon died on Sunday.
Buckinghamshire-born Wheldon, who was 33, was the only fatality in an horrific 200mph, 15-car pile-up during the Las Vegas Indy 300.
Ex-Formula One drivers Mark Blundell and Jody Scheckter called the accident “inevitable” due to the large number of cars jockeying for position at very high speeds.
The Las Vegas circuit featured 34 cars – one more than the bigger Indianapolis track did for the series’ showpiece race, the Indy 500.
“It was inevitable in many ways,” said Blundell, also a former IndyCar racer. “It was a recipe for disaster. These type of cars shouldn’t be on these type of circuits. Fifteen cars wiped out – 40 per cent of the grid – and we’ve had a fatality. That’s not acceptable.”
Scheckter, the 1979 Formula One world champion whose son, Tomas, escaped unhurt from Sunday’s inferno, called IndyCar “the most dangerous form of motor racing at the moment”.
He added: “One person makes a mistake and this happens. It was madness. Formula One is not like that anymore and it is still quite exciting.”
Wheldon, who twice won the Indianapolis 500 and also claimed the series title in 2005, did not have a full-time drive this season but was lured back for the Las Vegas race and the chance to win £317m ($500m).
Despite being a star in the United States and well known among the motorsport world he did not enjoy a similarly high profile in Britain, having left the country as a 21 year old in 1999.
Current Formula One stars Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Mark Webber paid their tributes to Wheldon on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Wheldon hoped at one stage to break into Formula One but was nit prepared to be a test driver indefinitely and turned down an offer from BMW Sauber in 2006.
He leaves a wife and two young sons, Oliver and Sebastian.