Dan Wheldon

Race-car drivers routinely risk their lives. But fatalities are relatively rare. So when reigning Indy 500 champ Dan Wheldon died Oct. 16 in a fiery 15-car pileup at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway--his car turned over in the air and slammed into a fence--the sports world was stunned. Wheldon, 33, who grew up driving go-karts in England, died of blunt head trauma. He leaves behind a wife and two young children, and serious concerns about the safety of his sport.

Before the race, many drivers had warned that banked ovals like the Vegas course were more suited to slower, sturdier NASCARs...

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