CL After inspection by our team and several other teams that week, we found multiple fracture points in the NSX suspension, specifically, the drivers-side rear suspension. The upper control arms had been modified with a spherical bearing by a previous owner of the NSX that the suspension came from (the 2012 Pikes Peak car), and were not done-so in a “correct manner”. Furthermore, the rear uprights had multiple fatigue fractures that of course let loose due to the increased torque of the engine. I had thought that the drivers rear corner went into the rocks first, but after closely inspecting the video, it appears that it did not. The components on that corner seemed like they were “pulled apart slowly”; ie, ball joints separated, control arms pulled off their mounts. The passenger side suspension components, which went into the boulders HARD, were shattered and broken in many points. Finally, the video shows the drivers rear tire locked up right before the rear of the car snapped around. Bottom line, I trusted lightweight aluminum control arms that had been in service for 22 years to handle over 800ftlbs of torque. Not the wisest of decisions on my part, and unfortunately, was the demise of a year of work.
MIQ The action happens pretty quickly in the video, did you have much time to react? What was going through your mind while it all happened?
Cl It happened VERY quickly. The outside rear wheel was under tremendous load, and when that wheel wasn’t doing what it “should” be doing, it was impossible to control the car in the middle of a high-G corner like that. I just remember seeing the spectators running, closing my eyes and thinking of my fiancé, Tabitha Lohr (who co-drove with me in the 2012, 2nd place finish Pikes Peak race), who was 8 ½ months pregnant with our unborn daughter. I just remember thinking, “shes going to kill me if I don’t make it out of this.”
CL The impact with the boulders was huge, and then I opened my eyes to see nothing but fire swirling in the driver’s compartment. I closed my eyes again and waited for the spinning inferno to stop. When the car finally came to a rest, I opened my eyes, and the fire was gone. I sat there for a second, wiggled my toes, shook my hands, looked around and collected myself. I appeared to be completely fine. It was then that I heard Kenneth Harper (the videographer) scream, “GET OUT, GET OUT!” I looked up at the ceiling and noticed it was on fire; I also noticed it was pretty warm in the car; VERY warm. I pulled the fire suppression chord, and got the hell out of there. After getting away from the burning car, spectators were checking on me, patting me down, etc. A couple people burned their hands on my scorching hot (but unblemished) Pyrotect fire suit.
MIQ Things were pretty intense after the accident. No one seemed fully certain of the extent of the damage, have you had some time to dissect it since the race? How much of the car was really damaged? How much of YOU was really damaged?
CL I was fine. I literally had a quarter-sized burn on my forehead, as my helmet visor wasn’t down for the run because it was supposed to be a “mellow data-gathering run”. And my middle finger had a small cut on it, that didn’t even bleed. My team and I built a hell of a safe car, no doubt about it. We had considered thrashing it back together for the race, but after talking to the Pikes Peak officials, they said only try to make it, if it can be competitive. Hell, based on that stipulation, all of the competitors should’ve packed it in with Loeb cracking an 8:13.XX.