• From: Ray Buck <rbuck@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: elky@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 05 Aug 2011 18:14:44 -0600

I saw that "live" and it was terrifying...but it wasn't as bad as the other Audi crash in the middle of the night.  Mike Rockenfeller was overtaking a Ferrari on the right side and dropped 2 wheels off the track and onto the grass/dirt as the Ferrari moved over into his left side.  That spun him 90 degrees to his left and into the armco head-on.  The French video teams don't work at night (I spose they need their government-guaranteed bottle of vin ordinaire every few hours) and the only video initially came from an on-board shot and a fixed-placement camera.  A helicopter shot came later...all 3 are shown in this video:

Rockenfeller (whom I met briefly when he was driving a Porsche at an ALMS race) was not seen on camera for quite a while.  He'd been able to extricate himself from the car and climb over the armco where he wasn't visible to the cameras.  Nobody knew if he was alive, dead, seriously injured...turns out he was slightly injured and sat out the next race to recover fully.  Here's his account of the incident:

As to the first crash...that was entirely McNish's fault.  He tried an overtaking move that was way too risky and paid for it.  It's amazing that no one at all was even injured.  The blonde photographer wearing the blue vest in the foreground was incredibly lucky as a tire fell out of the sky less than a yard from her and she didn't even know it.  No, no blonde jokes, although she did something that a race photographer should never do: turn one's back on the track when it's hot (cars are racing.)

Quick update on the race car.  ignition system seems to have survived my distributor rebuild and even though the carb won't keep the motor running, it would fire up long enough with a few sprays of gas down its throat to verify that all the cylinders are firing and it starts just like a good Chevy should: about a half a turn on the starter.  New carb is due Monday.  Jim (bless his heart) busted his butt to get the 2 8' planks in the trailer joined (they will NEVER come apart on their own) and I've got it masked and ready to hit with some color.  The hood is back on so I can install the pins.  Film at 11...like after I finish the Target 550 update.



On 8/5/2011 6:25 AM, John Christensen wrote:
wow He is lucky as hell.

On Fri, Aug 5, 2011 at 6:09 AM, <STILLFRANKSFAULT@xxxxxxx> wrote:
Smokey Mt Frank

From: martford@xxxxxxx
To: rpierce66@xxxxxxx, johnnyangel1950@xxxxxxxxx, STILLFRANKSFAULT@xxxxxxx
CC: valiant770@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: 8/2/2011 10:36:26 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
----- Original Message -----
From: SparkModel
Sent: Monday, August 01, 2011 4:05 AM

 Every year we visit Le Mans for the 24 Hours. We meet the drivers, the teams and our collector friends. We obtain press passes for access to the pit lane and trackside throughout the race and come back with several thousand photos to help us in our efforts to get the models right. Whilst we need eyes in the back of our heads in the pit lane with cars constantly entering and leaving and are constantly alert not to get in the way or cause an incident, it is far more relaxed at track side. The access road that runs around the circuit for the marshals, their safety equipment and press photographers is protected from out of control cars by armco barriers, tyre-walls and very often, wide gravel traps. So safety is not usually a major concern in the forefront of our minds.

This year was different for us. In the bottom photo below you can pick out two of our photographers. Alex, who spends most of the year in our factory in China developing our models, is the one dressed in black with the blue vest, crouching behind the scooter and Manu who helps us with photographs, is in the red shirt, blue vest and carrying the big lens. Manu broke his wrist as he fell avoiding flying debris. Alex who should have been crushed by the shattered Audi, escaped miraculously when the car, just as it was about to go over the barrier, performed a vertical pirouette on its nose and then fell back on the trackside. 
You can see all this in the spectacular crash sequence on the youtube link below (after the photos Of Allan, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello at our China factory last year and the picture of Allan waving).  When you see it in slow motion you will understand why we, who could see the accident from the other side of the track, had our hearts in our mouths and were so relieved that our friends, including Allan were all alive. That Allan McNish could walk away from the shattered remnants of his Audi attests to his fitness and the huge advances in safety technology of recent years.  We are grateful.




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