Event Coverage: 2015 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying


The Mayor of Hinchtown was practicing on Monday when his right front rocker failed entering Turn 3.  The numbers are staggering.  228 MPH.  Well over 100G of impact force.  Hinchcliffe had no chance of slowing down or changing direction.  The impact was so violent it de-beaded his right rear tire and broke the Kevlar tether of his front wheel.  The impact also destroyed the SAFER barrier.  However the injuries were not to his head, but to his legs.  The impact caused one of the right front suspension arms to pierce the tub of Hinchcliffe's car.  The suspension arm continued through his right leg and into his left, stopping near his pelvis, nicking his femoral artery.  Against all odds, the Holmatro Safety Team was able to extract Hinchcliffe with the arm still piercing his legs, staunch the bleeding, and get him to Indiana Methodist Hospital where surgeons were able to remove the control arm and stop the bleeding for good.  Reportedly, Hinchcliffe lost quite a lot of blood while in the car.  Fortunately, the doctors were able to save Hinch's life as well as his legs.  Despite the injuries, James is expected to make a full recovery, though he will be out for the rest of the season.

Hinchcliffe was saved due to the quick work of the Holmatro team.  The Holmatro team is present at every single IndyCar race and is well trained in motorsports related injuries.  This team has been carried over from the CART era, where it was known as the Simple Green Safety team.  This same team saved Alex Zanardi in 2001 when his legs were torn off in an accident at the Lausitzring in Germany (WARNING: Graphic content).  The safety team in IndyCar is the absolute best in the business and their quick work saved one more driver's life (NASCAR, F1, and the WEC do not have their own dedicated rescue crews, relying on local crews to extract drivers.  Poor marshalling and response is one of the reasons Jules Bainchi is still in a coma).  Without the Holmatro team, James Hinchcliffe would almost certainly be dead right now.


The Holmatro Safety Team sits at the ready for the 2013 Baltimore GP.  IndyCar's drivers are on a first name basis with the members of this team.  THAT is how much trust the drivers have with this group of rescue personnel.

What most other sites are not reporting on though, is how well the Dallara DW12 and the SAFER barrier did in this crash.  Depending on who you ask, Hinchcliffe's accident registered between 125 and 150G.  Doctors are always concerned when impacts crest 50G: Hinchcliffe's was more than double that.  And while it has not been confirmed, other than his blood-loss related injuries, Hinchcliffe has not suffered any head injuries.  He made a statement the day after the accident and was moved from the ICU ward a day later.  Throughout the many varying discussions on this wreck, not one has mentioned head injuries.  In fact it is my personal theory that if the A-arm had not penetrated the tub, James Hinchcliffe would have probably walked away from his accident.  However, with one driver sidelined for the season, the mood heading into the race is one that is rather somber and tense.


Carpenter was one driver happy to be finished with qualifying.  He embraces his wife after he makes his qualifying run, thankful he was unhurt in his morning crash.

There is of course some good to come from the whole saga of qualifying and Monday practice.  Indianapolis has always been a catalyst for safety.  The SAFER barrier that absorbed the impact of Hinchcliffe's crash was developed at Indy.  The SAFER has been around for 15 years and has saved hundreds of driver's lives since it was introduced and brought to oval tracks around the United States.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has the means to fund safety enhancements that will be felt across all of racing, from the SAFER wall, to the HANS device, to pit road speed limits, to trained safety personnel.  All of these inventions have some history that can trace back to IMS, with pit speed limits and soft walls debuting for various Indy 500s.  Rest assured that IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will continue their long tradition of safety advancement to prevent accidents like Hinchcliffe's and minimize the blowovers of Castroneves, Newgarden, and Carpenter.

And with that, we turn our attention to the race.  On Sunday May 24th, the 99th Indianapolis 500 will go green.  There will be hard racing.  There will be strategy.  There will be crases.  And there even may be rain (60% chance in the forecast already)  33 drivers will enter: only one will be crowned a champion of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing: The Indianapolis 500.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *