June 12, 2011

Spectators Lucky to Survive Le Mans Crash: Audi driver Allan McNish crashed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race Saturday, running into a low wall that miraculously kept his car from hitting numerous spectators. See the video, especially at 2:30. "I saw the people at the side of the track and that was a lot of luck, I have to say," said McNish, who suffered minor shin and back injuries. "It made my heart stop when I saw that as well."

posted by rcade to auto racing at 11:32 AM - 11 comments

Good Lord -- who thinks it's a good idea to have anyone that close to the track? McNish's car is one foot higher at the fence and several people are dead.

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:06 PM on June 12, 2011

My girlfriend said it looked like god pushed the car back towards the track instead of it flipping onto the people. Amazing no one was seriously injured.

posted by jagsnumberone at 02:24 PM on June 12, 2011

The spectators, just like the rally fans who hang out on the road to get a better view and then scramble off it as the cars come along.

posted by rodgerd at 02:55 PM on June 12, 2011

If McNish's car had been one foot higher at the fence then several people would be dead.

posted by Hugh Janus at 03:01 PM on June 12, 2011

McNish's car is one foot higher at the fence, then several people would be dead.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 08:43 PM on June 12, 2011

It's probably testament to the big ugly fin they insisted on for the top cars this year that it wasn't any higher. Luck was certainly a factor, but I suspect there was more to it than only luck.

On a motorsport theme, quote of the week from Jeson Button over the team radio after Hamilton clipped him on Sunday: "What is he DOING?"

posted by JJ at 08:54 AM on June 13, 2011

The wreck actually took place quite a distance from the track. It's a wonder nobody was hurt. I wouldn't have been too concerned about it that far off. Thank god for good reflexes.

posted by Tinman at 10:53 AM on June 13, 2011

I particularly enjoyed the photographer running away from the bouncing wheel - it looked like it was following him. I also enjoyed the fact that in the clip linked above you can hear the German commentator, who thinks he's sat far enough away from the microphone to get away with it, saying "scheisse" during the first replay.

I use the word "enjoy" perhaps wrongly here - the only thing to enjoy is that no one was seriously hurt.

posted by JJ at 11:21 AM on June 13, 2011

I'll never buy an Audi. They look like they fall apart too easily.

In all seriousness, the Le Mans officials are very fortunate not to have a lot of hurt people. The impact with the wall was far enough from the track that the vehicle had lost some velocity before impact, the wall was designed to "give" a little in order to absorb some of the energy, and somehow the car just barely tilted back to the track side instead of continuing over the wall. Good fortune is the residue of design, said someone far smarter than I.

posted by Howard_T at 03:23 PM on June 13, 2011

McNish's car is one foot higher at the fence, then several people would be dead

Brilliant point, Bismarck.

posted by tahoemoj at 04:32 PM on June 13, 2011

The people behind the low wall aren't spectators per se. They're journalists, photographers and track marshalls. The actual paying spectators are behind the second, much higher, fence. The whole thing is still very scary, though.

posted by qbert72 at 11:49 AM on June 14, 2011

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