Andretti crash: Concern over wheel guards

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    Keith Collantine

    Marco Andretti’s airborne crash at today’s Grand Prix of Long Beach will surely raise questions over whether the rear wheel guards introduced to prevent cars flying into the air, have worked.

    Here’s what happened:



    I really didn’t like the look of that crash, he’s lucky it didn’t roll. As for the wheel guards, that certainly isn’t a good sign, seeing a car break them so easily.



    Quite concerning seeing this happen, especially with these new wheel guards. This wasn’t even that much of a high speed accident. I had a chat with someone on Twitter about this, and she said she was worried for the ovals. I’m tending to agree with her, although I know there is a different chassis for the speedways. But still, maybe it should be looked into.



    I’d like to think this was just a one off, however something tells me it isn’t. I too have worries about the possibility of flying cars on ovals. We’ll see if there are more incidents this year though, then we can fairly judge whether the wheell guards work.



    Yeah, they don’t really guard the wheels too well, especially as they’re only as strong as the other random bits of carbon fibre. Easily smushed up by a fast moving nose cone or front wing.



    I don’t see how you could make the rear wheel guards work effectively without making them massively gigantic and heavy. They do cut down on a lot of rear tire punctures, but it doesn’t look they can keep the cars from taking flight. Definitely a concern for the ovals, and Indy is the first they’ll be tested at in race conditions.



    They haven’t made the car launching problem any worse, I’m sure the same thing would have happened in the old cars.



    I would think they might do another few tests with those oval Bodykits now. The rearguards on those are a lot bigger/higher, but I think it strongly looks as if the bodywork is not having the effect it should have.



    I honestly believe the only way open-wheel racing cars can ever use ovals safely is if they had closed cockpits. Until then, there’s every possibility of horrible things happening and that’s why I don’t agree with open-wheel racing on ovals. This looked more like something that could have been avoided by the driver in front, however!

    Also, is this the same layout F1 used?


    Adam Tate

    Yeah, it was a stupid last ditch blocking maneuver, that Rahal never should have initiated.

    And yes, it’s the same layout F1 used from 76 to 83. Another interesting fact, Mario Andretti won the race in Long Beach both when it was an F1 event, and when it was an Indycar event. I am struggling to think of any other driver who has accomplished such a feat, or of any other time when a track has had the honor of hosting both and setting up such a scenario.



    I suppose it did sorta push the car off to the side rather than up and over the car, but that could have been down to relative speed and other conditions.

    On a 200km/h+ oval?


    Keith Collantine

    @damonsmedley No, the track has changed many times since 1983 (as it was while the race was held there from 1976-83).

    Some areas remain substantially the same, such as Shoreline Drive (the start/finish area) and the last three corners.

    Here’s a little comparison:

    F1 1978:

    IndyCar 2010:



    Pretty scary looking crash, but I get the feeling that it would have been more severe if the wheel protectors hadn’t been there.

    On an unrelated related note, the commentary for Indycar is pretty good. Not constant, it seems to accentuate the action. I only mention this because I had to put the BTCC on mute on sunday as Ben Moody’s commentary was consistant, shrill and generally, excuse my french, a load of old tosh =p



    Interesting lap narration by Rahal. Those 1978 F1 cars sounded really good. Thanks for the video Keith.



    Perhaps the function of the wheel guards is most important on ovals, when cars are travelling at high, but very similar speeds. In that case, an innocuous nudge will not send the follower into air as happened to Patrese (Portugal 1992), Christian Fittipaldi (Monza 1993), and Webber (two years ago in Valencia).

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