Your ticket says ‘Motorsport Is Dangerous’ for a reason

Posted: June 14, 2011 in Sportscars
Tags: , , , , , ,

Your ticket says it.  The signs at the racetrack say it.  Even the entrance to your local kart track says it.

We’ll be coming back to the Canadian Grand Prix in due course, for there’s not a chance of us leaving that little beauty untreated.  We haven’t covered it yet because, among other things, your correspondent made a valiant but ultimately failed attempt to watch the entire Le Mans 24 Hours.  Audi won the race with the only one of its three entries to see the finish.  That their other two cars kept their drivers alive was another, altogether more important victory.

In the first hour of the race, Allan McNish passed Timo Bernhard for the lead at the Dunlop Curves and tried to lap Anthony Beltoise in the same move:

Somehow, the Audi R18 didn’t completely clear the tyre barriers, while the photographers behind the wall were all uninjured by the flying debris.  That the worst injury sustained in this entire incident was a graze to McNish’s shin is a testament to the design and construction of modern racing cars.  It also owed a massive amount to plain old-fashioned luck.

Later, as the race moved into the night hours, Mike Rockenfeller found himself lapping another Ferrari on the flat-out blast from Mulsanne to Indianapolis.  At that time of night, the TV cameras away from the start/finish area are turned off, so the footage of this accident comes from Rockenfeller’s on-board and local CCTV:

The live footage gives a better idea of the scale and destructive force:

Incredibly, Rocky was able not only to extricate himself from the remains of his R18, but to keep enough presence of mind to ring his parents as he was transported to hospital, just to let them know he was well.

It’s an inherently dangerous business – 200 miles per hour between a pair of walls can never be totally safe – but to see crashes of such magnitude is thankfully rare.  To see two in the same race is remarkable, but nothing like as remarkable as the rules, car designs and build processes that kept McNish and Rockenfeller safe in crashes that would until very recently have been impossible to survive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s