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Video: The Most Violent Land Speed Racing Crash We’ve Ever Seen – Driver OK – 209 MPH Wreck

Video: The Most Violent Land Speed Racing Crash We’ve Ever Seen – Driver OK – 209 MPH Wreck


This is the most terrifying looking crash we have ever seen anyone survive and it happened at the El Mirage SCTA Meet just a week or so ago. The car in question is a Honda Insight powered by a highly modified four cylinder engine that has run as fast as 180mph at El Mirage before. The driver of the car is Brian Gillespie and the car is known as the Hasport Hondata Insight. I can tell you that the Hondata people have done some amazing things in land speed racing and one of their cars was in impound at Bonneville seemingly every day. The car you’ll see in the video is also the El Mirage season points champion which is a bitter sweet thing for Gillespie to hear, we’re sure.

You’ll see Honda making some really big speed through the first 20 seconds of the video or so and then it all goes horribly, awfully wrong. You can start to see the car get sideways and despite the best efforts of Gillespie to get it back in line, it refuses to comply. As the car starts to rotate on the silt floor of El Mirage the dust cloud gets pretty big but true disaster strikes when the car turns its tail to the wind and the most intense series of snap and barrel rolls we have ever seen follows. Hyperbole aside, you’ll be gobsmacked when you see how violently this car spins, flips, and rolls. We have never seen anything like it.

Why is anyone using a Honda Insight bodied car in land speed racing? Aero, baby! Millions were spent to make that thing as efficient as possible. These racers were putting Honda’s R&D work to their advantage.

Thankfully the cage held up and Brian was A-OK by all the reports we have heard. The first time you see this video you’ll think that he is toast just like we did. The ferocity of this crash is comparable to absolutely nothing else that we have ever witnessed.


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41 thoughts on “Video: The Most Violent Land Speed Racing Crash We’ve Ever Seen – Driver OK – 209 MPH Wreck

  1. Gary Perkinson

    Glad to hear Brian’s okay. Certainly shows that when it comes to a great cage and a Hans device (which I know he was wearing), money should be no object…

  2. dw230

    Brian actually ran a 200 mph record on Saturday putting him in the EM 200 Club and moved into the points lead for the championship. On Sunday, when the incident happened, he is rumored to be running in the 209 speed range.

    1. Steven

      The white & blue Hondata car is actually a CRX. I watched that car lay down a 238 record this year at speed week.

  3. Bob Thomason

    You got to be kidding me!! Most amazing video I have EVER seen next to the Wide World of Sports, “Failure” ski shot!! and I have seen plenty since then!!

    So glad he’s breathin!!

  4. Dan Stokes

    As Dan W mentioned, that little sucker can fly. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve welcomed the team into Impound with various drivers.

    Mrs. Hondata is the president of BNI and the whole team is VERY safety conscious. Why do we need cages built to the required specs, Snell spec helmets, on-board fire systems, etc, etc. I hear these questions all the time. Look at that vid and answer them for yourself.

    SO glad Brian is OK. My best to the team.


    1. TW

      Have replayed this several times. At about 20:00 the car upshifts to 6th. W/ benefit of the doubt, would speculate something was upset by the last gear change. The motor pulls down, but also due to dopler effects, may mask the fact that the car appears to still be under power as it turns & may have just flown?
      Would like to see the run data.

  5. chuck

    that is just insane and glad the driver walked away from that !!! , I’ve seen some pretty nasty wreck out at El Mirage and most have been caused by the unpredictable thermals that cause gusts of winds out there

  6. Jim Gracey

    I cannot see what went wrong. Fwd considered there must be forces my feeble brain can’t conceive of. Sure glad the driver survived. Hats off the the guy shooting the video.

  7. Waldo

    I’ve seen this video twice now, and it just looks to me like the car started to rotate at just about the same time as he got out of the throttle. Maybe a crosswind got hold of the car when it quit accelerating and just turned him into a tumbling, flying, crashing missile. I’m just glad he is okay, and want to congratulate the fabricator who built that chassis and especially the roll cage…good job.

    1. TW

      watch this and have talked to others that have experienced this. The problem w/ long lens & pay attention to camera angle , the car is under power, but Doppler effect & after gear change, drops frequency of sound . Car is under full power and aero lift overcomes weight. Once the car separates from ground air gets under car, it flies. Not the 1st to experience lift above 200.
      Needs more downforce.

  8. Bobby J

    Yes, stunning. In addition to the car being extraordinarily aero, it’s also extraordinarily lightweight. I suspect that has something to do with why it rolled with such velocity.
    Anyone who questions the SCTA rules should watch this.

  9. Anonymous

    everytime someone asks me why at Wilmington… I’m going to send them to this video… Freaking amazing

  10. MattG

    I have seen worse in Indy car races, NASCAR races, F1 Races and SCCA/IMSA/Grand Am/Sports Car Races. A Properly designed Roll cage, 5 or 6 point Safety harness, Hans Device, and other safety gear, saved the driver’s life!

    I have also seen crashes where all of the safety gear did not protect the driver! It was just a “freak” incident, where the vehicle happened to hit at just the certain angle where it is just: “Squish”! Three incidents come to mind. All three were Indy Car racers.

    First one wast at the July 14, 1996 Molson Indy Toronto Canada where Jeff Krosnov was fatally injured along with a course worker. Krosnov’s car made wheel to wheel contact with another car sending it airborne into the catch fencing, The right front wheel of Krosnov’s car struck the course worker in the head and killed him instantly. Krosnov’s car, while in the air spun and struck a tree with the Cockpit! Killing him instantly and destroying the car!! Driver, car and roll hoop, hit tree at same time!! Spinning the car violently along the catch fencing tearing it apart, leaving only the driver and the back half of the cockpit “Tub” to come to rest against the outside wall. The engine and rear wheels continued down to the run-off area.

    The Second one: September 11, 1999 at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca during Practice. Gonzalo Rodr√≠guez’s car’s throttle stuck open approaching the “Cork Screw”, He overshot the breaking zone and ran off course and into a tire-barrier protecting a Concrete Barrier. His car then catapulted and Flipped up over a tree, landing upside down on the driver’s cockpit, Killing him instantly.

    Then in October 31, 1999 at California Speedway Greg Moore lost control in the exit of turn 2, sped across the infield grass and hit an access road, the car tipped over and struck the infield concrete wall sideways with the top of the car at close to 200 mph! Moore was critically injured in the crash and was airlifted to a local hospital were he was pronounced dead!

    In all three of these cited incidents the track was a contributing factor. After the Toronto Crash they moved the course workers behind the catch fencing and added the catch fencing on top of the concrete barrier. to prevent a car from striking the track side obstacles such as the tree or light posts.

    After the Laguna Seca incident, they added a runoff area Pushed back or removed the trees and added better tire barriers to prevent a car from catapulting and flipping up and over.

    After the California Speedway incident, they added “Safer-walls” to the infield area, Paved over the grass, and Mandated the use of a Head and Neck Restraint System on all Ovals and eventually all tracks/courses!

    These safety measures have lead to further advancements in track safety and the safety of racing cars and racing!

    1. DaMoopies

      I remember all those crashes well. The difference between those and the one in this video is that this crash ended with the car tumbling over a great distance until all energy was dissipated, while the Indy Car races all involved the car (and driver) striking a fixed object at a high rate of speed. You could also have mentioned Scott Brayton, the pole sitter for the 1996 Indy 500 who perished after spinning and striking the wall while testing a backup car during the bizarre month of May that year when the IRL was trying to establish itself as a legitimate racing organization.

  11. John Wylie

    I filmed the event. Brian is working on a video of his own with possible interview footage at the starting line, plus some more details about the car and himself as well. The moment I realized he was not just flat spinning, the shock and awe froze me into stunned silence, knowing for certain this person was not going to survive. As I zoomed in on the leftover cage all I could think of was “show me some movement, please!” and then I saw his arms move, what a relief. Within seconds the safety crews were on him, and according to his team he was talking a mile a minute, Brian told me he doesn’t remember much. More info to come, thanks for the positive comments, we decided to make the vid public to show how important it is to have proper safety systems, especially that roll cage!! John Wylie, Long beach, CA

  12. Dr Mark R Van Buskirk

    I was the car that went on the run preceding Brian……it was my rookie run and I was told not to exceed 150mph which I didn’t expect to reach, the car can’t do a lot more than that. Callaway and Warnock let me drive the car, it also has a high performance 4 cylinder Honda engine. I hit all the shifts and was acelerating in fifth gear when the rear end got loose and started to come around so I let up on the throttle and it straightened out…..I hit the throttle again and it go loose again. I let up a second time and passed through the finish at 138.887.
    We were told at the rookie orientation that the course was poor. It looks like Brian might have hit the same “spot” I did……I didn’t get a chance to tell anyone. We thought the worst when we saw the med-evac helicopter. I so glad that his safety equipment along with the hand of God saved his life. I’d like to ask John Wylie if he captured my run. Steady hands, excellent photography.

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