Speed advances demand safety advances at Indy 500

Sat May 28, 2016 3:36pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - With drivers hurtling around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at over 230 miles per hour (370 km per hour), technical advances that boost speeds also spawn health and safety measures to safeguard the race.

The inspiring story of James Hinchcliffe, the polesitter for Sunday's 100th Indianapolis 500 who survived a near-fatal crash last year, illustrates the courage of the driver and swift response of the safety team at the speedway.

Canadian Hinchcliffe was 24th in qualifying for last year's race. Going into Turn 3 the next day in practice, the suspension on his car broke.

His car slammed into the wall at 220 mph (354 kph) and a piece of the suspension broke through and pierced his thigh, severing an artery. He was rushed to Methodist Hospital, receiving 14 pints (6.6 liters) of blood on the way, and emergency surgery stopped the bleeding.

IndyCar has long been considered a leader in motorsports safety.

Its Holmatro Safety Team consists of at least 18 members at each event including a trauma physician, an orthopedic physician, two paramedics, 12 firefighters/EMTs and two registered nurses.

"Indianapolis Motor Speedway has some of the best first responders and medical team of anywhere in the world and they’re right on the spot," Bill Pappas, IndyCar vice president of competition, race engineering, told Reuters.

"As the car came to a rest after it rolled over after the big crash, they got him out, stabilized him and sent him off to Methodist Hospital," he said of Hinchcliffe.   Continued...

May 25, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar Series drivers Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe crash in turn one during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Justin Tooley-USA TODAY Sports