"Today (Wednesday) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indy Racing League IndyCar driver Tony Renna was killed during a private test session.
Renna, 26 years-old, was partaking in his first test session with his new employer Chip Ganassi Racing after beginning his IRL career with Kelley Racing. Renna was doing a shakedown and Firestone tyre test with his team and according to reports his car went out of control at turn three. Renna then went airborne before going into the catch fence that encircles the speedway.
The young American was unconscious when the IRL safety team came upon his wrecked G-Force/Toyota machine and attempted to revive Renna before they sent him to Indianapolis’ Methodist Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Renna was to be the partnered with just crowned IRL Champion Scott Dixon, who has been linked to a possible future Toyota F1 ride later on in his career, for the 2004 IndyCar season. It is the first death at the speedway, which now hosts the Indy 500, Brickyard 400 NASCAR race and the United States Grand Prix, since Scott Brayton died during Indy 500 practice in 1996 while he was racing for Team Menard.
President and Chief Executive Officer of the IRL and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Tony George, was quite saddened to hear about the loss of one of American motorsports rising stars.
“Tony Renna was a rising star in IndyCar Series racing and all of us involved in racing feel a great loss,” George said. “On behalf of my family and the staff of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League, our prayers and best wishes go out to his family, friends, team and fans.”
The IRL will start an investigation incident as well as a possible FIA inquiry on if the fencing was a factor in the crash. If the FIA deems the circuit to be unsafe then the United State Grand Prix, which is to be held on June 20, 2004, it will be cancelled until the circuit is appoved as safe"
Sad news indeed, best wishes to the family, friends and fans, and all those in the Indy Community
Tony Renna, for the benefit of those who don't follow IRL closely, only ran a single race in IRL during 2003 after finishing 5th in 2002 running the Indy Lights series.
He had recently signed to drive with the Chip Ganassi team for next year as team mate to this years series champion Scott Dixon.
IRL have been working very hard this year at reintroducing excitement to the series and closer racing so they have made a number of changes to the cars this year which include; removal of traction control and limiting rear downforce. Whilst this has made the racing better from a spectator viewpoint, we have also seen a number of severe crashes this year as the cars are very twitchy at 200+ miles per hour.
It's a tough call and a very fine line between the spectatcle and safety. The fact that most of the drivers have walked away from high speed contact with concrete walls is a testament to the strength of the cars and their safety features however it also encourages complacency. It's a call I'm glad I don't have to make.
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