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Thread: Time Trial Driver Killed at Summit Point

                  
   
  1. #1
    Senior Member Scotty's Avatar
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    Unhappy Time Trial Driver Killed at Summit Point

    I suppose many have already heard that a well-liked NASA TT driver was killed last weekend at Summit Point Main when his Honda S2000 struck the skid pad wall off the T1 access road. Possible brake failure.

    I found out at bimmerforums, which as some news postings and firsthand analysis near the end of the thread.
    Scott Lowrey

  2. #2
    That's not the first time someone died at that spot. I really hate that gravel trap at the end of turn 1. Sure, it'll slow down a car quickly if you happen to be driving straight when you enter it, but if you enter it sideways, you induce a barrel-roll into the concrete wall.

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    I'm not sure anyone has ever gone left of the access road and into the bare concrete wall, though. Cale missed the gravel trap entirely.
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    This may explain why the car turned toward the left (from an S2000 message forum):

    Four of Cale's friends from Hagerstown flew a helicopter down to Summit Point today and I took them out to Turn 1 and we viewed Cale's car. We spent about 45 minutes looking at the skid marks and then went to the maintenance bay and examined his car closely, especially the tires and brakes.

    It doesn't look like there's going to be any accident investigation since it was on a race track the DOT doesn't get involved. I was a trained aircraft accident investigator in the Air Force and have some knowledge of auto accident analysis. After reviewing my in-car video, examining the car and the crash site my personal "most probable cause" is a catastrophic right side brake rotor disintegration which caused the car to rotate left.

    My in-car video shows a small "flash" from the right side of Cale's car that looked like tire smoke, but all 4 of Cale's tires were still inflated--I actually checked the air pressure. The car's right side brake rotors were both cracked which could have been caused by the impact, but the rear rotor was completely gone. The "tire smoke" could have been the brake dust and rotor debris from a right rear rotor disintegration. We did a sweep along the braking zone but didn't find any brake parts but BSR has been running training on the circuit. His brake fluid level was normal and all of his brake pads had plenty of material left. The throttle butterfly was closed with the throttle cable working normally.

    If the right rear rotor came apart it could have pitched the car into a left hand slide. The loss of a rotor can also allow the brake caliper piston to fully extend which would allow the brake pedal to soften or even go to the floor.

    The skid marks at the track were easy to follow from about 50 feet inside the edge of the track to the wall. The car was sliding with about 30-50 degrees of left yaw from on the track abeam the access road all the way to the wall.

    The car's right side hit the wall pretty much flat against the wall while still in the slide. The car didn't hit right front like I initially thought.

    I now believe the car went to the left because of a rear brake rotor failure, not because Cale was trying to take the access road to miss the tire wall.

    All the safety equipment was intact. The seat, harness, and cockpit were not compromised and both airbags were deployed.

    After seeing the impact marks on the wall and seeing how much of a side impact it was, I realize how hard he hit and don't know if a head restraint would have saved his life, but it certainly wouldn't have made it any worse.
    Woody
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    i wonder about the safety rqmts for time trials. most allow steet car level equip. the cars are going race car speeds and taking chances. they should be required to have cages and harnesses like race cars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlytle View Post
    i wonder about the safety rqmts for time trials. most allow steet car level equip. the cars are going race car speeds and taking chances. they should be required to have cages and harnesses like race cars.
    Honestly, he'd probably have lived if he'd been in a 3-point. The car was well equipped for a TT car - harness+seats+rollbar. He broke his neck because he was strapped down too well. About the only thing that would have prevented that is a right side net.
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    Senior Member Scotty's Avatar
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    I think it's reaching a bit to say what killed the driver. You might be right but what's the point in hypothesizing? Maybe a HANS would've helped, maybe a seat with a head restraint would have been enough.

    It was a high speed side collision with an immovable object. The odds of walking away are pretty low.
    Scott Lowrey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd View Post
    Honestly, he'd probably have lived if he'd been in a 3-point. The car was well equipped for a TT car - harness+seats+rollbar. He broke his neck because he was strapped down too well. About the only thing that would have prevented that is a right side net.
    maybe...i wasn't really commenting on this particular case...just TT procedures in general. scary that these folks are in a competition environment and mindset, but don't have to meet proper competition safety standards.

    gotta love bmwcca cr safety rqmts...cage, proper seat, harnesses, hans, left and right side nets, helmet, suit, etc.....

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    If it was an alleged brake rotor failure the same sort of incident or a any mechanical failure will happen someday at a NCC drivers school with similar results. We have been lucky.

    Dave Apker

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
    I think it's reaching a bit to say what killed the driver. You might be right but what's the point in hypothesizing? Maybe a HANS would've helped, maybe a seat with a head restraint would have been enough.

    It was a high speed side collision with an immovable object. The odds of walking away are pretty low.
    It was not that high speed. Hell, both right side tires are still inflated. A broken neck with minimal other injuries means that it's highly, highly likely that his harness killed him. And what he needed was a right side net - HANS would not do much there.
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  11. #11
    Hard to imagine that someone would be tossed with a harness on far enough to reach the RH net. I always thought the nets were there to catch you if you slipped out of the harness in a roll-over.

    During an impact such as this...I've heard it's proper to take your hands off the wheel and grasp your helmet or duck your head. Any comments on doing something when impact is imminent?
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    Craig Brickner

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    Quote Originally Posted by Car54 View Post
    Hard to imagine that someone would be tossed with a harness on far enough to reach the RH net. I always thought the nets were there to catch you if you slipped out of the harness in a roll-over.

    During an impact such as this...I've heard it's proper to take your hands off the wheel and grasp your helmet or duck your head. Any comments on doing something when impact is imminent?
    A properly installed right side net is wrapped around the seat, so you ought to be able to reach it with your head without moving. A right side net is pretty much the only side protection that you have, even when wearing a HANS.

    Grasping the helmet seems like a good way to increase the chances of getting a hand outside the car and losing it. Ducking, I don't know. Taking the hands off the steering wheel, however, is VERY important. In a bad impact, the steering wheel can jerk hard enough to break bones.
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    Very sad accident.

    I think all the safety focus after this is good. A lot of people driving cars on or off the track know too little of all the safety equipment that goes into this sport if you are going to be as safe as can be. Myself included.

    In regards to head movement in the event of a crash. The seats with side support for the head. Are they suppose to replace the net all together? How far forward should the side protection go? At some point it would also become a safety hazard due to the lack of side vision I imagine.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Scotty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd View Post
    A right side net is pretty much the only side protection that you have, even when wearing a HANS.
    I think a seat with a head restraint would work better than a side net, but I'm not a collision safety expert.
    Scott Lowrey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty View Post
    I think a seat with a head restraint would work better than a side net, but I'm not a collision safety expert.
    I'm ambivalent about the head restraint. A right side net catches your shoulder as well as your head in a severe impact, and those seats are a bit more sketchy in that situation. Im particular, in a multiple impact situation with stretched harnesses, the head restraint seat is much less effective than a right side net.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
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    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



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