Race Car Accident

Airborne Driver Injury Allegations

Homestead Miami Race Track, Miami, FL

Background: During practice, a race car became airborne, overturned and went upside down into a gravel trap. The driver of the car suffered fatal injuries. Allegations were made against the car manufacturer and the track. There was only a single photograph showing the position of the airborne race car and fixing its location on the track and the instant that the accident occurred.

What We Did: To examine the validity of the allegations, visits were paid to the car manufacturer in England and to the track. An exemplar race car was procured for measurement, and the accident car examined and photographed. Scene measurements showed that the car trajectory was as expected and the car and gravel trap performed reasonably well during the accident.

Relevant Scientific Publications:

  1. Forbes, K. H. & Metz, L. D., “Race Facility Fence Design Considerations,” SAE Paper No. 2006-01-3613 (2006).
  2. Metz, L. D., “Soft Walls for Race Track Barriers through the Use of Slatted Wall Design,” SAE Paper No. 2002-01-3343 [also selected for SAE P-382](2002).
  3. Metz, L. D., “Kinetic Energies Involved in Racing Facility Design, SAE Paper No. 2002-01-3344 [also selected for SAE P-382](2002).
  4. Metz, L. D. and Metz, L. G., “A Technique for Slowing Racing Cars After Off-Road Excursions: The Vehicle Arrester,” SAE Paper No. 2000-01-3574 [also selected for SAE P-361](2000).
  5. Metz, L. D., et al., “Collision Research at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” SAE Paper No. 930998 (1993).
  6. Forbes, K. H. & Metz, L. D., “Protection of Drivers and Spectators from Pit Entrance Injuries Incurred During Loss-of-Control Accidents,” SAE Paper No. 942468 [also selected for SAE P-287](1994).
  7. Metz, L. D. & Forbes, K. H., “Analysis of a Dirt Track Sprint Car Accident,” SAE Paper No. 942548 [also selected for SAE P-287](1994).

Homestead Miami race car accident.

Front of the car.

The car's font-left body joint.

Left-rear corner of the car.

Exemplar race car overview.