Auto Racing: A Day for Survivors

Whatever else it is—a proving ground for automobiles, a nostalgic bit of Americana—the Indianapolis 500 is mainly a dice with disaster. Drivers come and go, cars change, engines get bigger. The one constant is danger. In 54 years of Memorial Day racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 56 people have died. But nobody has to twist a driver's arm to compete. The prospect of instant fame and fortune is inducement enough —even though he knows, as Eddie Sachs once said, that "in the long run, death is the odds-on favorite."

Sheets of Flame. Last week, the favorite won. The 33-car...

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