All levels of racing is a risky business

What a sad time it is to be a race fan.

I'm sure by now you've heard about Izod IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon being killed last Sunday in a horrific crash at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wheldon, 33, left behind his wife, Susie, and two young sons, Sebastian and Oliver.

The field was doing speeds up to 224 miles per hour when the crash, involving 15 cars, happened on lap 11. They were racing in a big pack, which is something you don't see often in an IndyCar race.

As soon as I saw the wreck, I had a really sick feeling, thinking not everyone would walk away.

It was the last race of the season. Everyone thought they would be sending Danica Patrick off with a bang, seeing it was her last Indy Car race.

We also thought we would be celebrating a championship won by Dario Franchetti, who was a close friend to Wheldon.

None of that was meant to be. No one was doing any celebrating.

Going into the race, some of the drivers made comments about being uncomfortable racing at the track. During a practice session the day before, the race cars were reaching speeds of 225 mph. You might be thinking, well, they do 225 mph or better at Indianapolis.

Yet Las Vegas is a different type of track, with banking. Indy is flat.

A few hours after the crash the race officials gathered the drivers together and gave them the sad news.

The drivers decided they didn't want the race to go on, but they would do a five-lap salute to their fallen friend. Race officials, pit crews members and their families, many of them in tears, lined up on the edge of the race track for the five laps.

Everyone knows the risks involved at any level of racing, but they do it anyway.

I've been to races at different levels, at which I've unfortunately witnessed drivers and fans being killed. I was at the Daytona 500 when Dale Earnhardt was killed.

It's such a helpless feeling, but I keep going back. It's what fans do. It's what the drivers want you to do.

The Sprint Cup drivers are at Talladega on Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.