this May 24, 2009, file photo, David Letterman, left,
and Bobby Rahal, car owners for driver Oriol Servia,
of Spain, talk before the 93rd running of the
Indianapolis 500 auto race at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway in Indianapolis. Letterman expressed his
grief in a telephone interview with The Associated
Press from his Montana ranch. He spoke just two days
after IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died from a head
injury suffered Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, when he was
struck by a piece of debris at Pocono Raceway.
Calif. — This kind of list makes David Letterman sick to
his stomach and question his love of auto racing.
late-night comedian and IndyCar team co-owner rattled off a
number racing deaths — Justin Wilson, Dan Wheldon, Paul
Dana, Dale Earnhardt, Ayrton Senna, sprint car driver Kevin
Ward Jr. — and wondered if "maybe we've reached
diminishing returns at making this sport safer."
expressed his grief in a telephone interview with The
Associated Press from his Montana ranch. He spoke just two
days after Wilson died from a head injury suffered Sunday
when he was struck by a piece of debris at Pocono Raceway.
just like, 'Whoa, is this really the sport that you can
embrace entirely?' I don't know. It's a real
self-examination," Letterman said.
Cubs players and coaches observe a moment of silence
for IndyCar driver Justin Wilson before a baseball
game between the San Francisco Giants and the Cubs in
San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
is part owner of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and the
team goes into Sunday's season finale at Sonoma Raceway
thick in the championship hunt. Graham Rahal trails leader
Juan Pablo Montoya by 34 points in an event that will count
for double points in the standings.
just nine points out headed into last weekend's race at
Pocono, but he was wrecked by Tristan Vautier midway through
the race. The incident with Wilson occurred long after Rahal
had exited the race, when debris from Sage Karam's
single-car spin flew into Wilson's open cockpit and struck
him in the head. In a coma and critical condition, the
37-year-old Wilson died little more than 24 hours later. He
leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.
talked to a lot of people about this: Racing is fun, but
people are not supposed to get killed," Letterman said.
"I am brokenhearted for his family, for his kids, and
everybody says, 'Well, this is what the guy wanted to do.'
And of course, that's the case.
we're not supposed to have people die in the middle of this
competition. I think he has two children, and that just
breaks my heart, that dad loves driving race cars."
Astor Cup, awarded to the winner of the IndyCar
series, is displayed with a two-seat race car at a
news conference about this weekend's Grand Prix of
Sonoma auto race, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, at the
Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.
voice was emotional and it was clear he's put much thought
into justifying his love of racing against his personal
struggles with the risks involved.. Improvements were made
following Dan Wheldon's death in the 2011 season finale in
Las Vegas. The two-time Indianapolis 500 champion died
almost instantly when his car went airborne and his head
slammed into a post in the fence.
driven now in IndyCar was introduced immediately after
Wheldon's death and Dallara called it the DW12 for the
development work Wheldon had provided.
death was the first fatality in IndyCar since then, and it
was almost a fluke accident in that the nosecone from
Karam's car bounced down the track and into Wilson's cockpit
as he was the 12th driver to pass through the crash scene.
done quite a lot of thought, and statistically, I suppose
people will tell us racing has never been safer, and maybe
that's the case," Letterman said. "And it seems
like always enough time goes by between episodes, tragedies
like this, where you are lulled into thinking that, 'OK,
well, that's not going to happen again.'
then it happens again. It just makes you sick to your
driver Graham Rahal waves before throwing out the
ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game between
the San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs in San
Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.
honoring Wilson this weekend, beginning Thursday when Marco
Andretti was scheduled to drive Wilson's car across the
Golden Gate Bridge. James Hinchcliffe, who has been
sidelined since his own life-threatening accident in May
during preparations for the Indianapolis 500, was scheduled
to drive IndyCar's two-seater with the championship trophy
in the car.
remains excited for Rahal's prospects on Sunday, but his
emotions are tempered by the loss of another driver. He said
he struggled this week reconciling the good and the bad of
other sport do you have these two diametric circumstances:
One, the possibility of this kid winning his first
championship, and then also in the same week you have a guy
who dies. I don't know how to reconcile it, I just
don't," he said.
you see a race and you see people drive these cars with such
precision, what they are able to achieve and what they are
able to control, it's like watching ballet. What they are
able to do with these high-horsepower automobiles, it's like
watching the Blue Angels or something," Letterman said.
"That's the thrill of it. So when you see a kid get
killed doing this, it's a tap on the shoulder of, 'I don't
know. I don't know if we are supposed to be enjoying this or
not.' Not many people are getting killed in