Unusual Flip In Closed-Wheel Race Car

By Winding Road Staff

April 26, 2017

At the recent Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup race at Barber Motorsports Park, we saw an unusual crash on the start that involved contact between cars with fenders that resulted in a flip (fast forward to about 3:00 to see the pace lap and start):


The announcers speculate a bit about what happened (typical), but we had a chance to examine the cars afterwards and here's our summary:

The direct cause of the rollover was that Tim Probert hit Luis Gavignano in the right rear quarter panel at the correct angle and force to punch a hole through his left rear quarter panel, exposing his rear tire. When the front of Tim's front tire and the rear of Luis's rear tire then impacted each other, it threw the front of Tim's car vertically and imparted a corkscrew force. The weirdly "perfect" graze of the fender made the situation very much like a front to rear offset open wheel car impact. It is understandably unusual for fendered cars to have this happen. Fortunately, as you can see in the video, Tim was okay.

You can have a long discussion about the proximate cause here, but basically you might conclude this was caused by a) cars jumping the start and b) drivers not paying attention to or understanding the IndyCar "acceleration zone" starting rules. In the event, a driver was penalized by IndyCar for jumping the start with a drive-through penalty.

Crashes on starts and the first lap are quite common in all series and classes. Be careful, be aware and remember, "you can't win on the first lap, but you sure can lose."

BTW, after they clean up the crash, the ensuing race is pretty good -- impressively close, hard fought and clean. Worth watching.