If you were watching the Detroit Grand Prix race from Belle Isle this weekend, you may have witnessed a rare site as Executive Vice President of Global Product Development Mark Reuss lost control of the Corvette ZR1 pace car he was piloting. This put the car on a collision course with a wall and destroyed it within seconds of the mistake. If you didn’t happen to catch the race, check out the video above to see how it all went down.
Chevrolet confirmed that Reuss was uninjured, except for maybe his pride, just after the crash stating, “We are thankful that there were no serious injuries. Both the pace car driver and the series official were taken to the infield care center, where they were checked, cleared and released. It is unfortunate that this incident happened. Many factors contributed, including weather and track conditions. The car’s safety systems performed as expected.”
We’re happy that Reuss escaped unscathed. After all, we’ve all made our fair share of mistakes in powerful vehicles over the years. Luckily for most of us, however, they were not nearly as public, or televised for that matter. In addition to the complexities of piloting a 755-horsepower Corvette around a course at a pretty brisk clip, Belle Isle is notorious for its somewhat bumpy and unpredictable surface. With that said, it seems that several sixth-gen Camaros you can see taking the next corner in the background managed to navigate the turn just fine.
Reuss is no stranger to driving pace cars either. He frequently pilots the pace cars at the Detroit Grand Prix, but Belle Isle apparently threw him a curve ball this year. While the official statement from Chevrolet blamed the weather and track conditions, you can clearly see that as Reuss comes over a slight crest in the corner the car becomes unsettled and appears to unload the rear tires, putting the car into a quick oversteer condition that was unrecoverable.
You may remember Reuss from his remarks earlier this year stating, “General Motors believes in an all-electric future.” A comment we were less than thrilled to hear, but it would seem karmic retribution was at play as one of the most powerful production internal combustion engines, the LT5, bucks its rider. However, lest we forget, this isn’t the first time something this dramatic has happened with a pace car.
In 1971, at the Indy 500, Eldon Palmer almost drove a Dodge Challenger pace car through the photographers’ box at the start of the race. Palmer, a local car dealer being rewarded for his excellent sales performance that year, lost control of the vehicle after turning on to pit row. Palmer blamed a misplaced traffic cone that was supposed to show him where to start slowing the vehicle (everyone has their excuses we suppose).
Also, back in 1986, a crazed fan hopped in the cockpit of the 1986 Trans Am intended to pace the Talladega 500 and took it for a quick little spin around the track before being apprehended just moments later. Needless to say, it most likely won’t be the last time we see something like this, but we hope so.
At the end of the day, the only thing lost in the accident was a little fiberglass, carbon fiber, and some pride. The car even looks like it might be repairable. So, if you’re looking for a good deal on a “slightly used” ZR1 pace car, you might want to keep your eyes peeled. That could be the deal of the century.
— Mattzel89 (@Mattzel89) June 3, 2018