When Dan Wheldon died in October at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the hue and cry from many quarters focused on the track itself: too banked, too wide, too much room for open-wheeled cars to get into trouble. No less than Jimmie Johnson himself said that he didn't believe IndyCars belonged on certain ovals.
Now, it appears IndyCar is heeding those cries. The series has announced that it will buy out the 2012 race and review contract options for 2013. IndyCar is in the midst of an investigation into Wheldon's death, and a return to Vegas is, in part, contingent on those findings. So many questions still remain, with few answers in sight. (Of note: the series has already committed to returning to Texas, a similar track, for 2012.)
The 15-car wreck that claimed Wheldon's life 12 laps into the race could have been caused by the high banks of the track, and accordingly, the series has held off on releasing its 2012 schedule. However, other reasons for the catastrophic wreck could have been an overcrowded field or the high number of relatively inexperienced drivers.
Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc. and the Las Vegas track, has long demanded that IndyCar honor its three-year commitment to the track. However, he agreed to a buyout of 2012, with 2013 yet to be determined.
- Dan Wheldon