IndyCar Driver’s Death May Spark Changes

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AUBURN --

Days after IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died from injuries he received while racing, many in the sport are calling for changes.

Among those who believe changes are coming is Scott Pruett, originally from Roseville, who raced IndyCars for more than a decade, and now lives in Auburn.

"Everything else that took place, you weren't really sure what happened," Pruett said about the crash which took Wilson's life. "They immediately put him in a helicopter, they immediately took him to the hospital when those things happen, you know it's bad."

Pruett knew Wilson well, as the two co-drove a car together for the Rolex 24 Dayton in 2008.

"A great guy, a great driver, a great family man," Pruett said.

He says his death will be felt across the sport and beyond. Sadly, Pruett said Wilson was working to make the sport safer for the fans.

"He was in the midst of talking to IndyCar about putting the fans on the inside of the track instead of the outside because the debris typically goes to the outside of the racetrack," Pruett said.

But Pruett believes there is a silver lining in this tragedy, and talk about safety changes often turns talk into action after accidents.

"There's some testing going on with Formula One right now, you can see some pictures online where you see a simple structure up around the driver's head," Pruett told FOX40.

Pruett knows first hand how those safety changes don't take long after an accident.
Back in 1990, Pruett had a brake failure, slamming into a wall traveling more than 100 miles per hour.

"Shattered my ankles, broke my knees broke my back," Pruett said.

But afterward, that accident was reviewed by a safety commission and soon after cars were redesigned so that the drivers' legs were behind the car's front axle.

"Got their feet behind all that major structure," Pruett said.

As much as Wilson will be missed, Pruett said this weekend at Sonoma, racers won't slow down.

"The majority of everybody will be carrying a sticker or a patch or something in memory of Justin, but we love what we do ,and we do what we do, and that means getting back in and doing it again," Pruett said.

Pruett left IndyCar racing after 1999 and has since stuck to sports car and NASCAR.