Busiest Race Days of the Spring

Episode 56

May 24, 2015

Analysis of Hinchcliffe Crash

With IndyCars pounding the walls at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for time trials and in practice, many were blaming the new aero kits for the flips experienced by Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, and Ed Carpenter.

I am not sure of the cause for the Chevy flips. I am positive they will be studying the problem and make any adjustments to keep the cars on the ground.

Just to give one perspective about the speed of Indy remember that the “Fastest Driver in Maine 2014” Carl Theriault went 220 plus after a mile and one half at Loring last summer. These Indy guys were running at speeds that fast for 200 laps. Wow!

After some investigating I did get the answer why the Honda of James Hinchcliffe in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team’s lead car crashed. All week I heard that he hit hard enough to require surgery. The news seemed to be quite benign. The facts say otherwise.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe was almost killed in the crash. He broke a part in his car and crashed hard into the turn three wall at 125 g’s. The right front wishbone pierced the tub and entered and exited his right leg, then entered his left thigh to his pelvic area pinning him in the car. He was bleeding profusely and the wishbone had to be cut so he could be extricated from his car.

The HOLMATRO Safety Team was on the crash site almost instantly and assessed the situation and leapt into action to stem the flow of blood. They had him out of the car and at Methodist Hospital in less than 30 minutes where Hinchcliffe was touch- and-go for a period of time.

Surgery stabilized the Canadian driver and had him talking about his desire to get back in his car as soon as possible. I have doubts about this year, however, remember I did not think Kyle Busch would be back so soon. The crash was almost as severe as Alex Zanardi’s crash in 2001 which tore off his legs.

Members of the safety team were Mike Yates, Matt Stewart, Ryan eagle, Mike Perry, plus Dr. Andrew Stevens. They did all the right things at the right time. As a result Hinchcliffe may drive again.

So What Broke?

The right front rocker that connects the suspension pushrod to the shocks on Hinchcliffe's DW 12 Dallara. Photo courtesy Racer.com

The right front rocker that connects the suspension pushrod to the shocks on Hinchcliffe’s DW 12 Dallara. Photo courtesy Racer.com

This photo shows the location of the rocker's location at the front of the Dallara. The purpose of the rocker is to change the direction of input from the pushrod and transfer it to the coilover shock. Photo courtesy Racer.com

This photo shows the location of the rocker’s location at the front of the Dallara. The purpose of the rocker is to change the direction of input from the pushrod and transfer it to the coil-over shock. Photo courtesy Racer.com

The part which snapped was a first generation part with 14,000 race miles on it. This part had no prior failures to alert teams to the necessity of swapping out the part sooner. All teams went to the latest generation part which was strengthened. You can read more about the story at the Racer.com site http://www.racer.com/indycar/item/116981-indy-500-source-of-hinchcliffe-s-crash-confirmed

Four Different Tracks, Four Different Race Cars

I found it fascinating that during this week and weekend of racing on the national race scene that one of my friends who veteran readers of UpNorth Motorsports will recognize, Kody Swanson of Zionsville, Indiana had a full slate of races to drive.

Last Thursday Swanson entered the United States Auto Club (USAC) Hoosier 100  Dirt Sprint race at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The mile long track has not been nice to Swanson when several years ago he barrel rolled in a terrifying crash. Since then he has won the race and backed that race win with his second Hoosier 100 on Thursday.

Next was the USAC Silver Crown race, “The Day Before the 500”  at Lucas Oil Raceway Saturday. Lucas Oil Raceway, a 1/2 mile paved track,  is located in Claremont, Indiana less than 10 miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kody Swanson in the white car, races his younger brother Tanner at the Toledo Speedway earlier this month. Photo courtesy Apexonephoto.com

Kody Swanson in the white car, races his younger brother Tanner at USAC Silver Crown race at Toledo Speedway earlier this month. Photo courtesy Apexonephoto.com

Tanner Swanson, Kody’s younger brother, won the 100 lap race. Tanner led every lap and had lapped every car except second place finisher, his brother, who he held a 16.685 second lead at the finish. Tanner has led 385 of the last 386 he has run at the track. The one lap he did not lead was at last summer’s Silver crown race when David Byrne slipped by on the last lap for the win. He has won three of his last four races at Lucas Oil Raceway. Talk about dominating.

After the race Kody jumped into his vehicle and made the trip north to Anderson Speedway for the 67th  running of the ” Pay Less Little 500″. Swanson had qualified second for the race earlier. Dick Trickle a former ASA and NASCAR stock car driver said this about Anderson Speedway,”It’s like racing jet fighter’s in a gym.”

On left Caleb Armstrong third fastest qualifier, Kody Swanson second fastest, and pole sitter Connecticut native Bobby Santos II. Photo courtesy TK Racing- Swanson Motorsports

On left Caleb Armstrong third fastest qualifier, Kody Swanson second fastest, and pole sitter Connecticut native Bobby Santos II. Photo courtesy TK Racing- Swanson Motorsports

The race at Anderson is 500 laps on the medium banked 1/4 mile track. That’s right, 33 sprint cars on a 1/4 mile track for 500 laps. Swanson ran out of fuel and got a couple of laps down early. He fought his way back to seventh place on his first attempt at the Little 500. The race was won by Chris Windom.

Finally tonight Swanson headed east to Tony Stewart’s dirt track, Eldora Speedway, for the NRA Sprint Invaders Series race. This race featured winged sprint cars. Swanson placed fourth in his heat and finished the feature in 11th place of 31 starters. I think he has Monday to rest from a very busy four days.

My Guy Finally Wins 

When Carl Edwards moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing many assumed he would make a similar transition his team-mate Matt Kenseth had when he changed from Roush-Fenway and won several races. Until tonight Edwards has come close yet was doomed to poor finishes after either bad luck or pushing too hard for the win.

Edwards and crew chief Darian Grubb took a chance that their #19 Toyota would have enough fuel to make it to the end of the Coca Cola 600. Their gamble paid off with a win. Edwards did not look like much of a threat to win based on his car’s performance until the decision was made to stay out rather than pit with the leaders late in the race when they  grabbed fuel and tires.

The Indy 500 was won by Penske Racing Chevrolet driver from Bogotá, Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya. The race was relatively event free except for three yellows for on-track incidents.

The day began with Formula One at Monaco where a late race decision to pit Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes cost him the race when his team-mate Nico Rosberg stayed out and erased the 20 second lead that Hamilton had built up.

Start ’em Young

Beech Ridge Speedway’s “Days of Destruction” drew my daughter, her husband and my two grandchildren to their annual visit to the track. I don’t think my daughter ever saw me race while growing up yet she must have some of her Dad’s crazy genes since she never misses a “Day of Destruction”(and neither have my grand-daughters).

Son-in-law Marc with my grand-daughter Lydia at Beech Ridge Speedway's "Day of Destruction" Photo courtesy Erika Cole

Son-in-law Marc with my grand-daughter Lydia at Beech Ridge Speedway’s “Day of Destruction” Photo courtesy Erika Cole

My grand-daughter Lila poses in front of an International pickup truck which won the truck drag race as part of the "Days of Destruction" at Beech Ridge Speedway. Photo courtesy Erika Cole

My grand-daughter Lila poses in front of an International pickup truck which won the truck drag race as part of the “Days of Destruction” at Beech Ridge Speedway. Photo courtesy Erika Cole

Lots of local racing action around the state! Practice for race karts at Spud Speedway on June 6th and stock cars the 7th of June. racing begins at the caribou track on June 14th at 1:30 pm.

Let’s Go Racing

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.