Anybody who races goes onto the track knowing, in their heads and hearts, that what they are doing is dangerous. There is no denying that fact…many people have died chasing speed, from the earliest pioneers throughout modern day. If one thing goes wrong, one step is out of time, or one corner misjudged, the results can be catastrophic, and that isn’t hyperbole in the slightest. One of the more recent lessons learned happened at the 2011 Perth Super Sprint V8 Supercars race at Barbagallo Raceway in Australia.
At the start of the race, the pack starts off from the grid, with one notable exception: Karl Reindler, who was sitting in 13th position, had stalled. While holding his Holden Commodore on the line in gear with a line-lock device, the clutch fluid boiled and the clutch failed, stalling the car. The problem occurred when Steve Owen, who had started in 25th position and already pushing 100 miles an hour, didn’t swerve the same time that driver Dave Reynolds did and had absolutely nowhere to go but straight into the back of Reindler’s Holden. The impact was significant: the Holden was catapulted up and forwards in a monumental fireball. Reindler’s car spun off into the grass with the entire back end jammed in and in flames, while Owen’s car sat in the fire on the track. Pit crew members jumped the wall with fire extinguishers to attack the fuel-driven flames immediately as both drivers worked to free themselves from the cars.
Knowing danger is present is one thing, but mitigating danger is another. Despite the sincerely brutal hit, Owen walked away from a crash that was reported to have registered as high as 37 g’s of impact load, while Reindler suffered superficial burns to his hands and face and a mild case of smoke inhalation. Seeing the accident footage, you’d be hard-pressed to believe it.