Indy 500: Sebastien Bourdais' Accident Shows The Amazing Advances In Safety



Indycar doesn't have a great track record in recent years, with more driver's killed or seriously injured than most, if not all, other top level motor racing series. That's an inherent danger of cars going very, very quickly around an oval circuit in the company of lots of other cars.

Today's qualifying accident involving Sebastien Bourdais does demonstrate the incredible strides in safety Indycar has made over the years.

Bourdais accident was terrifying to watch for anyone who has been around motor sport for many years, specifically because of the way it so closely mirrors the accident of Gordon Smiley, thirty-five years ago.

In both cases an over correction of a tail slide sent the drivers into the Brickyard's outside retaining wall at unabated speed. For Smiley the mistake was fatal, the accident destroyed the unfortunate driver's body and was described at the time as being of the same severity of an aircraft accident. Smiley was obviously killed instantly.

Bourdais, benefited from the carbon fibre tubs of modern cars, the SAFER barrier which lines the outside of the circuit and, just as importantly, the HANS device and the protection it offers drivers from the violent head movements which used to snap necks and smash brains into skulls. 

Multiple fractures to the pelvis and hips and a year away from racing don't sound like getting off lightly but that is absolutely what this is. 

Bourdais won't be a competitor in this years Indy 500. That he will be around to watch is something to be thankful for.

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