Roger Diez: Danger of catch fencing for open-wheel cars
August 24, 2018
In an accident at the IndyCar race at Pocono last Sunday, driver Robert Wickens was severely injured in an accident that eerily resembled the crash that killed Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas seven years ago. Wickens made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay in turn two and launched into the catch fence, which shredded his car and sent it into a violent spin. Wickens was airlifted from the track with injuries to his legs, right arm, and spine. He underwent surgery to place rods and screws in his spine on Monday, and surgeries on his right arm and lower extremities later in the week. Wickens also underwent a series of precautionary tests that found no indication of further injury. The severity of his spinal cord injury is still unknown, and the team will not replace him in the No. 6 Honda for Saturday's race at Gateway. A subdued Alexander Rossi went onto win the race after a lengthy red flag, advancing him to 29 points behind championship leader Scott Dixon.
Wickens' accident once again points out the danger of catch fencing for open-wheel cars. Although stock cars don't seem to suffer the same effect, the fencing still doesn't prevent parts from penetrating, as has been demonstrated more than once. Great strides have been made in track safety, particularly the SAFER barriers that absorb crash energy, but it's time to put our technology to work finding a better solution to what's above those barriers. Finding a clear material that won't block fans' vision but still contain a 3,000 pound stock car is a challenge, but if we could send men to the moon we should be able to figure something out.
Wickens’ accident once again points out the danger of catch fencing for open-wheel cars. Although stock cars don’t seem to suffer the same effect, the fencing still doesn’t prevent parts from penetrating, as has been demonstrated more than once.
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