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Thread: Fatality at Buttonwillow

  1. #41
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    From Facebook:

    He came out of the esses too wide dipped dirt on the right side tried to save it, over corrected twice, slid into the corner station. Poor guy man. I was on track a couple turns behind when they stopped us and when we finally rolled off track they were trying to resuscitate him and they were pulling out the passenger who's face was covered in blood and was very stiff like he was in the position he was sitting. It was really gnarly. He must have still been going like 80+ on impact. It hit the passenger side and it was fully caged. Kinda crazy how the driver died but not the passenger. The car was a banana man. He hit so hard the corner worker got thrown out of the station. The corner worker who stopped us on Phil hill kept walking back and forth with his radio on and the corner worker over there was panicking and crying so it was real bad man. From stubbz--

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    Sorry if controversial, hopefully helpful:


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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    about track design / corner stations:

    not sure if I got this right. But I believe there have been 5 fatalities in past 10 years in socal HPDE.

    WSIR - T9, Mini Cooper roller over. driver died because he was partially ejected.
    SOW - driver and passenger hit a corner station (not sure if fatality or not. my memory is fading. but I remember it was one of worst accident till then)
    ACS - Porsche GT hitting a concrete wall on front straight after going off trying to avoid a Ferrari (entering track).
    CVR - passenger died (?) hitting a corner station
    BRP - yesterday. driver died hitting a corner station.

    4 of the 5 involve concrete. 3 of the 5 involved corner station. would gravel trap of worked ?
    Last edited by bellwilliam; 12-07-2015 at 02:20 PM.
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    I ruptured a break line two years ago going into Buttonhook at 97 MPH without brakes. I was doing 50 MPH when I left the asphalt sideways and hit the tires in front of the vertical dirt embank that separates the big track from the kart track at BRP. I can tell you that even with two rows of tires to cushion it was a hard hit. For a moment I thought the car was going to flip over the wall onto the kart track. When the car bounced away from the wall and settled, I can tell you I sat for a moment and thought "Wow! That hurt like Hell."

    I got out of the car by myself and unlike some other racing incident crashes I have been in involved in the medics just asked if I was OK and took my word for it. But it was my worst crash and the most painful. The stop was so sudden and virtually no energy was dissipated. I never went to the doctor, but my containment seat I am certain helped save me from further injury. I hit the side if the seat I must have cracked three or four ribs, but more likely I think I separated them a bit where they connect at the spine. For three month it hurt like heck to bend over and tie my shoes and sleeping was tough.

    The point I am making with all this is stuff breaks, other drivers do stuff, we make mistakes... and we don't get a choice of if, when, how or where we crash. Given enough time on track it will happen. That is why I have a good cage, right and left nets, containment seat, good harness, good helmet and two fire systems in the car. When I have work done on the car on ocassion I will mention to whoever is working on it that "In a little while I am going to be doing 150 MPH in this car so make sure you double check everything."
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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    about track design / corner stations:

    not sure if I got this right. But I believe there have been 5 fatalities in past 10 years in socal HPDE.

    WSIR - T9, Mini Cooper roller over. driver died because he was partially ejected.
    SOW - driver and passenger hit a corner station (not sure if fatality or not. my memory is fading. but I remember it was one of worst accident till then)
    ACS - Porsche GT hitting a concrete wall on front straight after going off trying to avoid a Ferrari (entering track).
    CVR - passenger died (?) hitting a corner station
    BRP - yesterday. driver died hitting a corner station.

    4 of the 5 involve concrete. 3 of the 5 involved corner station. would gravel trap of worked ?
    I too was there that day at SoW and I did not think the driver died, but he was messed up as was the passenger. If he had proper seat, harness, properly fitting closed-faced helmet and left in his airbag steering wheel I think both would have walked away. The girl passenger's helmet rotate around on her head and almost came off. She submarined into the foot area. The driver's harness was crappy 2" belts that combined into one 2" belt behind the driver seat and went 3+ feet to a rear seat buckle. The seats were also look alike race seats with recliner feature and the seat frame underneath collapse causing the seat to move forward about 5" more. His removable steering wheel stopped his face when the belts stretched. I remember looking at his long 2" belt and I thought "That looks really weird. It looked a bit like shag carpet, but it was the result of the belt stretching probably about two feet and then snapping back after his body and face already hit the steering column. He was airlifted out and I did not hear what happened after that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    about track design / corner stations:

    not sure if I got this right. But I believe there have been 5 fatalities in past 10 years in socal HPDE.

    WSIR - T9, Mini Cooper roller over. driver died because he was partially ejected.
    SOW - driver and passenger hit a corner station (not sure if fatality or not. my memory is fading. but I remember it was one of worst accident till then)
    ACS - Porsche GT hitting a concrete wall on front straight after going off trying to avoid a Ferrari (entering track).
    CVR - passenger died (?) hitting a corner station
    BRP - yesterday. driver died hitting a corner station.

    4 of the 5 involve concrete. 3 of the 5 involved corner station. would gravel trap of worked ?
    I saw the WSIR crash right in front of me from the pit area. That crash was, from what I understand, mostly related to a) poor installation of safety harness (and it was 4pt), and b) having no window net. I'll never forget that one. Similar circumstances in that he tried to save it as he went off the outside of 9 and then cut back across into a ditch on the inside which caused the flip.
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    WSIR fatality, driver was wearing a 4 point harness.

    SOW was not a corner station, it was the low (retaining?) wall opposite of the start/finish flag station IIRC.
    No tire barrier in front of the wall at the time (added later, because hindsight 20/20)
    I don't think it was a fatality but both driver and passenger were badly injured, both were using a 4 point harness.

    CVR passenger died. She was wearing a 4 point harness.

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    A few years ago we were testing at BW running 13CW and I was following a customer of mine (Miata) and he went wide and put two off at the exit of the esses heading to sunset. He almost saved it. Almost being the key word. When the two wheels that were in the dirt contacted the paved cut off road the right front got traction on the pavement and hooked the car head on into the corner workers station at very high speed. Fortunately he was ok but the car was pretty bent up. The impact compressed a 12" length of front frame rail down to about 5". That frame rail looked like an accordion bellows. An innocent looking off turned into a huge disaster.
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    I don't think it can be stressed enough how critical it is to just unwind the wheel and let it go straight off. There's always another lap.

  10. #50
    Junior Member ChrisF's Avatar
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    Terrible news and so sorry for driver, passenger and their families. Subscribed in the hopes of learning from this tragedy and maybe helping someone else.
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    One thing I am curious to know is if the car was not on fire. Why were they taken out of the car ? You never move the patient in something like this that could be a major neck or spine injury. Also wonder if extreme speed even has extraction equipment. I know speed ventures does and pretty sure NASA events do as well just seems odd. Or they don't have any safety crews trained working there.

    Also if I remember correctly the Mini Cooper was using a harness bar and 4 points , chuckwalla crash was passenger death due to 4 point and submarining into the foot well.
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    I have not seen anyone mention it here, but the reason we will likely never be allowed (with promoter permission) to take pictures, inspect and get information from them is the litigious society we live in. In order to protect and limit liability for XS, BRP, the corner workers, the EMTs, the driver and the BRP bathroom janitor is to keep information from possibly being used against them. Unless the parties involved get immunity/safe-harbor, which will never happen, their legal counsel and insurance companies will shut them up.
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    Pretty sure the SoW crash injuries were also the result of 4pt + submarining.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
    WSIR fatality, driver was wearing a 4 point harness.

    SOW was not a corner station, it was the low (retaining?) wall opposite of the start/finish flag station IIRC.
    No tire barrier in front of the wall at the time (added later, because hindsight 20/20)
    I don't think it was a fatality but both driver and passenger were badly injured, both were using a 4 point harness.

    CVR passenger died. She was wearing a 4 point harness.
    That retaining wall at SoW is now gone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olitho View Post
    I have not seen anyone mention it here, but the reason we will likely never be allowed (with promoter permission) to take pictures, inspect and get information from them is the litigious society we live in. In order to protect and limit liability for XS, BRP, the corner workers, the EMTs, the driver and the BRP bathroom janitor is to keep information from possibly being used against them. Unless the parties involved get immunity/safe-harbor, which will never happen, their legal counsel and insurance companies will shut them up.
    I wondered about that. can promoter really stop me from taking pictures ?
    just gonna grab my phone away ? or sue me for posting pictures about it ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellwilliam View Post
    I wondered about that. can promoter really stop me from taking pictures ?
    just gonna grab my phone away ? or sue me for posting pictures about it ?
    I suppose the track or the promoter can set a rule about no photography, but those rules don't exist. In fact, the tracks are photo-Meccas.

    I suppose they could try to confiscate a camera if they don't like you doing that, but then that becomes another sort of legal issue I will leave to our The Sheriff and/or any of our law enforcement compatriots that frequent TrackHQ.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hakeem View Post
    I don't think it can be stressed enough how critical it is to just unwind the wheel and let it go straight off. There's always another lap.
    ^ This.
    Seen too many big wrecks on the retaining wall between the esses and Sunset.
    I've had a high speed off there before in my turbo car, straightened it and let it go.. the Zorro switchback is actually quite high at speed and the car went airborne but it was still straight and other than lots of shop vac action no harm was done.

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    They can't really stop you from taking pictures from a distance, but the value of those pictures is limited. We'd be able to learn much more if we could look at the interior of the car and see how the safety systems worked on each particular scenario.

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    My two cents:
    Unless another car was involved, I don't think you can throw XS under the bus for "the event being out of control". As far as I'm concerned a single car incident like this doesn't have anything to do with the org hosting the event.

    I'm sure the driver who is used to driving powerful cars at buttonwillow was fully aware of the challenge the last ess presents.

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    Senior Member bellwilliam's Avatar
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    if you look at most of major incidents I listed earlier.

    3 of the 5 can be prevented by simply banning 4 point belt (I know it is banned with a few organizers, but it really isn't enforced, I see them everywhere)
    I believe ACS event can be prevented with a HANS device.
    BRP event is still too early to say, but I think halo seat would of helped.
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