- AMS Resurfacing Project Put On Hold
- Formula E – Leading The Way For Electric Racing
- After String Of Seconds, Kyle Larson Captures Victory In Fontana
- Mash The Gas: California Preview
- Stewart, Schatz And Larson Go Dirt Racing
- Wayne Taylor Racing Tops 12 Hours of Sebring
- Andretti Still At Home Behind The Wheel
- Rebellion Returns, On Pole At Sebring
- Sebring Photo Album
- Mash The Gas: Phoenix Preview
The Start is the Most Dangerous Part of the Race
- Updated: May 12, 2014
Gary Congdon (#53) has just vaulted over Don Branson as several cars seek to sneak past just after the green flag flew in the 1966 Indy 500. [Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway]The start is usually the most anticipated, exciting and dangerous part of an auto race. The noise, the closeness of the cars, the spectacle of it will have fans on their feet and the drivers on edge. Yesterday’s start of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis featured the first standing start at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway since Formula One left after the 2007 race.
The start saw pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra’s car stall when the green flag was waved and was impacted shortly thereafter by drivers Carlos Munoz and Mikhail Aleshin causing wheels, suspension bits and carbon fiber to be exploded to various directions. Thankfully no one seriously injured. It brings back memories of other starts that didn’t go as planned.In 1958, racing officials decided to grid the cars on pit road and start them single file before going into their traditional rows of three. The first row got in front of the pace car and the second row actually became row one. It wasn’t until just before the start (as the cars exited T4) that the first row got into correct position. It was Katy bar the door as Dick Rathmann and Ed Elisian raced into the lead and got themselves in trouble in turn three when Elisian spun into Rathmann causing a huge pile-up. Tragically, popular Pat O’Connor was killed in the melee.
In 1966 its Canadian Billy Foster who gets the blame for the pile up on the front straightaway as he tried to squeeze between Gordon Johncock and the wall. In the ensuing collision, Johncock’s nosecone came sliding across the field causing many to avoid it, but hitting other cars in the process. Seventeen cars were involved, thankfully with no serious injuries, except to A.J. Foyt’s cut finger (when he scaled the retaining fence).
David “Salt” Walther became a footnote in history of the Indianapolis 500 when he touched wheels with Jerry Grant and flipped into the retaining fence and slammed upside on the track spraying fuel as he and the car pirouetted down the straightaway. Several spectators were burned and Walther spent the summer in the hospital recuperating. Thankfully, not until 1982 was another start on the front straight marred with a collision.
Yesterday’s race justifies the racer’s concern, they never knew what may happen.
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