Skip

A child's garden of race car crashes
January 30, 2010 1:31 PM   Subscribe

A child's garden of race car crashes.

Because even now the 2010 season of everyone's favorite international sport is underway, and as Albert Einstein said, "The best thing about car racing is the crashes."

Incident at Oulton Park
Trouble Down Under
Pile-up at the 1973 British GP
Mario Andretti gets it horribly wrong
Case of the flying Mercedes
Three of us can do this

N
A
S
C
A
R

... and much much more.

Please note: no humans were seriously hurt in the making of this post.
posted by philip-random (40 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy Fuck! This is so awesome.
posted by Elmore at 1:35 PM on January 30, 2010


Ah, this takes me back. The very first time I visited YouTube I was initially at a bit of a loss in terms of what I wanted to search for, so on a whim I just typed "crash" into the search box. I spent the rest of the afternoon at work watching everything from hi-larious hillbilly ATV accidents to military jets exploding at air shows. This is probably my fondest memory associated with that job.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:38 PM on January 30, 2010


Struth! Scheisse! Goddamn! Oh Bloody Hell!
posted by Elmore at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2010


I'm amazed at how many of these involve no vehicle-on-vehicle action, but seem to be cars just flying into the air, then flipping all over like fish in the bottom of a boat, shedding rubber and metal, while the announcers say, "That's a big crash. A big, big crash." I suppose when you're going at that speed, running over a turtle is enough to launch you into spins that defy the law of conservation of energy by actually speeding up the longer they go on.
posted by Faze at 1:47 PM on January 30, 2010


PLEASE NOTE:

I put a lot of effort into NOT linking to anything where death or serious injury occurred. But it occurs to me now that various of the Youtube side-links do go to that kind of stuff. Please watch out for this if you're not into that kind of stuff, and PLEASE don't post direct links either, or at least, offer fair warning if you do.
posted by philip-random at 1:52 PM on January 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


or at least, offer fair warning if you do

In other words: let's not mention Tom Pryce.
posted by grounded at 1:58 PM on January 30, 2010


Oulton Park - WTF are they doing racing in a blinding downpour? Holy crap that's a perverted version of the sport: Ferraris at 160mph on wet surface and oh, you drivers can't see.

Really cool post. I've seen one track wreck up close, when I was about 13, where the underside of the stock car involved was maybe 20 feet from my face as it came through the air toward the stands, before bouncing off the screens (as I recall, just wire mesh, this being at Bridgehampton LI in the mid-70s sometime). At the time, it never occurred to me that it was a near-death experience, just the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Been fascinated by race crashes ever since.

It's a suicidal sport, it really is. And that's fucking awesome.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2010


fourcheesemac: The Oulton Park video is absolutely astonishing. According to the comments, the rain came out of nowhere and this all happened before anyone had a chance to pit. What's amazing about the video is how the cars just come apart on impact like they're made of wet tissue paper.
posted by The Bellman at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2010


You can't forget the ridiculous 1998 Belgium GP Formula 1 crash wiki (which wasn't fatal).

F1's had some pretty messy crashes. Frankly, though, I don't understand the fascination with them. They're too often fatal and just utterly ruin races.
posted by spiderskull at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's amazing about the video is how the cars just come apart on impact like they're made of wet tissue paper.

Like Airfix.
posted by Elmore at 2:13 PM on January 30, 2010


What was the deal with the Mario Andretti '89 crash? Cars can just be parked on the track without even a local caution?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:17 PM on January 30, 2010


What was the deal with the Mario Andretti '89 crash? Cars can just be parked on the track without even a local caution?

It's the old road-course-rules. If a car was stopped on the track and was difficult to move, they'd put the immediate area under caution for a few laps (ie: no passing allowed) until the drivers were aware of the hazard. Then, they'd lift the caution and allow full-on racing again. Mario Andretti simply forgot the car was there.

By the way, they don't do this anymore. If a car's stopped in a dangerous place, they move it, stopping the race if necessary.
posted by philip-random at 2:27 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


RE: the Belgian F1 crash.

9 second point. Check out the guy in the green jacket leaning over the rail (extreme right). Notice how close that flying wheel comes to his head.
posted by philip-random at 2:31 PM on January 30, 2010


I love the comment on the Le Mans crash in the "car" link:

be great if wings popped out´╗┐ and rockets 2 and then it flw off and started shooting people

Yes, that would be great.
posted by Dr. Send at 2:40 PM on January 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't watch crashes where somebody gets hurt, but at the same time I love watching crashes where the driver walks away. Even though I know the cars are designed to protect the driver, it's like seeing a real life Superman emerge from the wreckage.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:00 PM on January 30, 2010


I had that book when I was a kid <3

M3 (first one) is just delightful, the bounding and somersaulting ebullience of it.

Thanks!
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:36 PM on January 30, 2010


wow, that Oulton one is just the gift that keeps on giving!
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:40 PM on January 30, 2010


AWESOME!!!!!!!!
posted by frankbooth at 3:41 PM on January 30, 2010


Not a crash, but wonderful in its own way: Stacking Tires
posted by pjern at 4:13 PM on January 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


What's amazing about the video is how the cars just come apart on impact like they're made of wet tissue paper.

They're designed to do that. Pieces flying away from the car equal crash energy absorbed by the frame (and accoutrement) and not directly affecting the driver.
posted by Evilspork at 4:42 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


9 second point. Check out the guy in the green jacket leaning over the rail (extreme right). Notice how close that flying wheel comes to his head.

I think that's just an optical illusion - his head is in line with the tire, sure, but I think the tire was far in the background. The tire looks like it bounces off the guardrail after passing his head before it's even at his position along the track.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:45 PM on January 30, 2010


I think you're right
posted by philip-random at 5:57 PM on January 30, 2010


Close call at a bike race
posted by troll on a pony at 6:48 PM on January 30, 2010


They're designed to do that. Pieces flying away from the car equal crash energy absorbed by the frame (and accoutrement) and not directly affecting the driver.

No, they're really not. The only real bit of design in a racing car that is concerned with crash protection is the safety cell the driver is in - either the monocoque or the chassis plus a crushable structure on the front (often the nose box) and on the rear. All of the body panels and wings et al you are seeing fly off do so because they are not in any way structural beyond their primary purpose - ie aerodynamic devices or suspension components with loading in very specific ways. The only major design push for suspension in crashes is to stop bits flying off completely by the introduction of wheel tethers between upright (the bit that holds the wheel on) and the chassis. These are relatively new additions, though.

Oulton Park - WTF are they doing racing in a blinding downpour? Holy crap that's a perverted version of the sport: Ferraris at 160mph on wet surface and oh, you drivers can't see.

Oulton Park has a reputation for doing that - total epic downpours from nowhere. I've been there waiting for all the cars to come around (26 open wheel cars) and they were 2 minutes or so late. It was bright sunshine and a lovely day in the pits. Then all of them drove slowly in the pits to our utter bemusement. 26 engineers and mechanics all went and asked the drivers what the hell they were doing coming in. Every driver replied "What are you talking about? There's two inches of water on the track at the back of the circuit!". 2 minutes later it had drifted over the pits as well.

For a car that runs less than an inch off the floor, that was a bit of a surprise for them, apparently...

Also, in single seater/open wheel almost any rain beyond drizzle results in severely compromised vision. That's just the way it is. As soon as any volume of water is being thrown up by the cars and the tyres, you can't really see very well. Races are only stopped when it gets so bad that (for instance) Marshalls can't see the next station along or there is sufficient standing water that it is dangerous to continue - it is likely the Oulton Race would have been stopped shortly after that footage even without the incident. Closed wheel and ALMS style cars at least have wiper blades, so they're slightly better off.
posted by Brockles at 8:34 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm really impressed with the fact that the announcers were naming everyone in the rescue teams- the EMTs, the surgeons, etc. - that's really awesome.

In nearly every other sport, you know the players, the coaches, and maybe the refs get named once at the beginning, and no one else really matters.

That they can give credit to the people who literally are there to save lives? Awesome.
posted by yeloson at 10:12 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


F1's had some pretty messy crashes. Frankly, though, I don't understand the fascination with them. They're too often fatal and just utterly ruin races.

Too often fatal? As compared to what? There has been more deaths in Nascar (to pick one) in the last 20 years than in F1.

In fact, there have been only 4 fatalities in F1 in the last 30 years and none in the last 16 years. Nascar, on the other hand, has had 2 (Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup only, not including all the other versions) in the last 16 and 9 in the same period.

Or is your comment supposed to mean that crashes per se ruin races in general? It's not that clear, but F1 is one of the safer sports - especially so for the speeds it generally runs at.
posted by Brockles at 10:38 PM on January 30, 2010


That comment confused me a bit.

Or is your comment supposed to mean that crashes per se ruin races in general?

I took this to be its point. And a good one. If you've ever actually been to a motor race, the experience of a BIG accident is generally something-that-happened-somewhere-else-on-the-track-that-causes-everything-to-slow-down-for-twenty-minutes-or-so-while-they-clean-the-mess-up.

On TV, of course, they just jam a bunch of commercials at you, and replays. I'm sure Marshall McLuhan would be both appalled and impressed.
posted by philip-random at 11:30 PM on January 30, 2010


but F1 is one of the safer sports - especially so for the speeds it generally runs at.

It is *now*, but historically it was diabolical. Late 60s/early 70s the fatality rate amongst drivers was around one in three - as in, one driver in every three who raced in F1 in that era died on the track.
posted by rodgerd at 1:54 AM on January 31, 2010


Late 60s/early 70s the fatality rate amongst drivers was around one in three - as in, one driver in every three who raced in F1 in that era died on the track.

Can you cite some sources for that, please? I can only find reports of 22 drivers killed in total over the entire 20 year period. That is an average of just over one driver per year, which clashes with your rate, it seems.

I mean, F1 was certainly dangerous in the 60's and 70's, but 1 in 3 were killed sounds like an exaggeration to me. It's certainly been much, much safer since 1980 or so, anyway.
posted by Brockles at 2:08 AM on January 31, 2010


Can you cite some sources for that, please?

It's one that pops up regularly from Jackie Stewart.
posted by rodgerd at 2:14 AM on January 31, 2010


Ha! Someone well known for not letting facts get in the way of a good anecdote...

I'd prefer a better source than that, personally. I imagine that 1 in 3 of the people during a smaller period may have been right, or maybe 1 in 3 of the people entered for the championship in one particular year ended up dying in a race car by the end of the decade, but 1 in 3 of all drivers who raced in a twenty year period is hard to believe and, like I say, doesn't seem to be backed up by the statistics I can find.
posted by Brockles at 2:29 AM on January 31, 2010


Don't forget Rally Racing. Finnish rally crashes and a particularly difficult left-hander.
posted by Authorized User at 3:36 AM on January 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


as in, one driver in every three who raced in F1 in that era died on the track.

21 drivers attempted to qualify for the 1970 Monaco Grand Prix. Of that number, 7 died in race cars, four of them F1 cars

Jochen Rindt, qualifying for 1970 Italian Grand Prix (F1)
Pedro Rodrigues, in a 1971 sports car race
Ronnie Petersen, 1978 Italian Grand Prix (F1)
Jo Siffert, 1971 Brands Hatch non-championship race (F1)
Piers Courage, 1973 Dutch Grand Prix (F1)
Bruce McLaren, 1970 sports car test crash
Denny Hulme, of a heart attack during 1992 Bathurst 1000
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on January 31, 2010


spiderskull wrote: "F1's had some pretty messy crashes. Frankly, though, I don't understand the fascination with them. They're too often fatal and just utterly ruin races."

On a road course, sure. For those of us whose idea of racing consists of turning left for 500 miles, however, the only excitement comes from the crashing.
posted by wierdo at 11:45 AM on January 31, 2010


The bad crashes, the ones from which the drivers don't come away kind of sour me on car/motorcycle racing. I watched Isle of Mann devoutly for a couple years until Dave Jefferies died in practice (he was all of 30) and it kind of ... well, made me less interested. I was interested again when they did the electric bikes but the Jefferies crash... he was a really good racer, well liked and (like with Joey Dunlop - another motorcycle racer) it's kind of heartbreaking when they die.

That said, here's an insane crash from the Catalonia round of the '06 MotoGp - Sete Gibernau bumps Capirossi, depressing his front brake in the process and sending himself and a few other riders into the gravel.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:07 PM on January 31, 2010


Or is your comment supposed to mean that crashes per se ruin races in general?

Yeah, that's what I meant. I certainly could have worded it better.

To further clarify, for me, losing any good driver is "too often fatal," which just means my tolerance for watching people die is low. Which is absurd, I realize, what with it being a fundamental risk in the sport.
posted by spiderskull at 7:40 PM on January 31, 2010


Okay, those Finnish crashes just drove me crazy. Here's a Frenchman getting it right, Irish fog and all.
posted by philip-random at 7:52 PM on January 31, 2010


On a road course, sure. For those of us whose idea of racing consists of turning left for 500 miles, however, the only excitement comes from the crashing.

Meaning no disrespect, but I have to think you haven't seen many drivers get killed, live and in person, holy shit that was someone's life ending right there. Praise be, I haven't seen many get killed live. Moore and Earnhardt, I think, though I know I've seen a number of unknown marshals get killed as well. It's sincerely wrenching, and I think I might puke if I ever saw another wreck like Moore's.

Now crashes mostly mean a little pit in the stomach til I see the driver move.

(OTOH, compilations of "everyone lived to laugh about it" crashes are totally awesome)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:04 PM on January 31, 2010


Now crashes mostly mean a little pit in the stomach til I see the driver move.

This is too true. But such is the nature of a sport that's entirely about finding the extreme edge of both man and machine. I'm sure if I was a truly rational being, I would probably abhor all motorsport (not just gratuitously dangerous but also enormously wasteful and polluting and, from the lowest levels on up, a front for the worst kind of corporate propaganda).

But, of course, I'm not truly rational. I saw the movie Grand Prix when I was nine and I was hooked, for life. A year later, my personal #1 hero in the world Bruce McLaren was killed in a testing crash. I remember going to school that morning utterly gutted, and incapable of explaining to anyone what was going on. But it never occurred to me to not continue being a fan. I just switched allegiances to Jochen Rindt ... who was killed maybe five months later.

And so on.

The sport's a lot less dangerous now but the word safe never really applies. Kind of like life, I guess. It doesn't matter how smoothly things are going, it can all go horribly wrong in an instant.
posted by philip-random at 10:25 PM on January 31, 2010


philip-random -- I think you've just described the way I feel (expressed better than I could've). It's completely irrational for me to like motorsports as much as I do.
posted by spiderskull at 10:02 AM on February 1, 2010


« Older Satan Satan Satan Satan   |   In Soviet Mushroom Kingdom, Goomba Eats You! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post