Monday, May 31, 2010

British racing driver escapes with broken leg after car disintegrates in 200mph horror smash
By Daily Mail Reporter

Mike Conway goes airborne before crashing into the fencing after colliding with Ryan Hunter-Reay (37) during Indianapolis 500

This is the moment British driver Mike Conway was launched into the air at 200mph during the Indy 500 motor race.

His car catapulted into the safety fencing and disintegrated in front of hundreds of thousands of horrified spectators.

But amazingly, Conway only sustained broken leg and ligament damage.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Mike Conway flies through the air after crashing with Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay

The car was airborne for several seconds during the penultimate lap of the race

Team owner Dennis Reinbold told how the accident happened a split second before he was about to warn Conway that other drivers were sklowing down.

'I was just getting ready to tell Mike, 'Some guys are going to slow down, so give yourself some room'' Reinbold said, his upper lip quivering. 'I never got the words out.'

With cars slowing to save fuel, the 26-year-old Briton entered the narrow short chute between turns three and four, ran into Ryan Hunter-Reay's sputtering car and flew into the catch fence.

The accident on Lap 199 prompted the final caution of the race and shook up the drivers.

'It's not comforting going underneath a car flipping in the air,' Danica Patrick said. 'I got through it, but I hope they're OK. It's never good when people are upside down and doing cartwheels

The car begins to disintegrate as it strikes the catch fencing going backwards at 200mph

This amazing image captures the split second when Conway's car slams into the fence

Horrified spectators look on as the racing car splinters apart. But, crucially, the cockpit remains intact saving Conway from serious injury

The remains of the car skids along the race track with the driver strapped inside. Because the vehicle was very low on fuel, there was no fire

Reinbold didn't even realize at first that it was Conway and teammate Ana Beatriz involved in the crash.

The small-budget team owner with four cars in Sunday's lineup had his eyes on IndyCar's biggest prize - winning the Indianapolis 500 - and decided to send Conway after it.

'We caught the pack. When you catch the pack and you're going that fast, it's a gamble,' Reinbold said. 'But it's the Indianapolis 500 and sometimes you have to take a gamble.'

Survived: Mike Conway suffered compound fracture to his left leg

The risk didn't pay off, shaking Reinbold and his team as the car was unloaded in two long pieces and the destroyed chassis was thrown into a pile of rubble.

Doctors rushed to his aid as wreckage was strewn across the track and Conway, 26, was airlifted to hospital.

His injuries were last night described as 'gruesome' and the man from Bromley in Kent faces a long fight back.

Doctors believe Conway suffered a compound fracture of his left leg, as well as tearing ligaments and tendons in his knees and ankles.

The miracle is that his injuries were not more serious given the severity of the accident that drew gasps not just from the crowd, but from the drivers coming to the end of one of the fastest and most gruelling events in the motor racing calendar.

Reinbold acknowledged series officials didn't have enough time to react to the slowing field and the hard-charging Conway.

Brian Barnhart, IndyCar president of competition and racing operations, said there was probably nothing he would have done anyway.

'It looked like the closing rate was pretty significant between the 37 and 24 and when you're in the middle of a corner like that,' Barnhart said.

'It's one of the risks that happens when you come down to the end of a race.'

Hunter-Reay, however, thought it could have been prevented another way.

'In hindsight we should have stopped for fuel,' he said. 'It's dangerous. ...

There's no runoff lane. There's no bailout procedure. You've got to slow down or you're going to hit the car in front of you.'


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