miatacrash1One of the main reasons we build racetracks is to control risk – without closed courses, it would be impossible to experience the full performance of anything quicker than a Fiat 500 without continually risking disaster at every turn (literally!) Racetracks give us the chance to run at 10/10ths without the punishment for a mistake being a fiery death in somebody’s front yard, or worse yet, harm to innocent bystanders. But managing risk isn’t the same as eliminating it; even with generous run-off areas, asphalt free of accumulated oil and dirt, and everyone (at least in theory) paying attention to their driving, crashes still happen on the racetrack.

miatacrash2That brings us to today’s video, shot at Thunderhill Raceway Park in northern California. Coming out of the long straight after turn 9, we see what appears to be a C5 Z06 pass our POV car, then slash past a black Miata through the left-hand turn 10. The Corvette stays to the inside to get around a Legends car through the tight 90 degree turn 11, and the Miata tucks in on his bumper to make the pass as well.

Unfortunately for the Miata, the Corvette driver spots the yellow flag displayed by a corner worker for an off-track car ahead, and applies some generous center pedal, practically parking at the apex of the turn. From there on out, things turn into a physics experiment – the Miata hits the blunt rear end of the Corvette on the right side and launches several feet in the air, parts flying everywhere, while the Legend car heads for the dirt to avoid the worst of it.

Just goes to show that even on a racetrack, you always need to pay attention to what’s behind you, not just what’s ahead!

UPDATE:

The driver of the Corvette, Bill Brinkop, had this to say about the incident on Corvette Forum:

Hi guys, I just had a new wrap done on my ST2 car so it was bound to have some contact this weekend.

There was a waving yellow flag in T11 that you can’t see in the video. I was trying not to pass the legends car under yellow. In the split second that I decided to not pass that slow legends car I didn’t realize he must have also been disabled and going so slowly. The yellow was for a GT40 that had spun on the exit of the turn.

Sucks for both me and the miata guy. Luckily I only broke a rear spindle and nothing else except for body damage. What sucks is I just got the car wrapped. Both the other driver (who is my friend) and I are fine. Let’s not turn this into a big forum “you should have done this or that” session please. After 5 years of racing and dozens of close calls these things will happen sooner or later. Thanks!

Bill.

BTW, this weekend was going quite well up until that point. I qualified pole in the SU class and was winning a close race holding off some fast cars. One split second of a bad decision made the day not so good. Oh well, live and learn.