Motor racing is dangerous

A remastered film of the 1963 Le Mans 24 hour race showed up on my social media today. Those were the days when the drivers would start the race by running across the track before jumping in their cars and driving off.

Two Italians won the race in a Ferrari 250P, of course. Ludovico Scarfiotti and Lorenzo Bandini were up and coming drivers, both destined to race in Formula 1. Before the decade was out, both would die in separate motorsport accidents.

Motorsport is dangerous, and the 1960s was one of the deadliest decades in motorsport. It was a period when the safety of the drivers was a secondary thought to the spectacle.

When Scottish racing driver Jackie Stewart crashed at Spa in 1966, he was left upside down in his car soaked in fuel for 25 minutes. It was frightening, as there was no assistance, no marshals, no medical people, no tools to get him out of the car. It was a wake-up call, and it alerted him to what was wrong with driving racing cars.

Jackie survived the crash and campaigned robustly to improve safety, advocating for run-off areas, better barriers, advanced medical facilities, and proper marshalling. He led boycotts of races at Spa and the Nürburgring, and though his efforts were not welcomed, it was ultimately successful.

Drivers will always want to go fast, and motor racing will remain dangerous. Lifting off the throttle on the never-ending crusade for safety in motorsport is not an option if we wish to keep motor racing in the same form we know and love today.
Left in a car upside down soaking in fuel for 25 minutes? Scary. Nice reading this after reading your bit about the football league beginning to take concussions seriously.
2021-02-23 14:36:55

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