Tim Bell’s crash at the Circuit of the Americas during the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race last weekend is a lesson in terror. It’s also a remarkable endorsement of current race car safety.
The on-board video shows Bell racing hard just after the start of the race, taking several positions on the first lap. Then, as he’s topping out fifth gear and heading into a hard corner after a long straight, you can see his foot pumping the brake pedal—but the car doesn’t slow down.
Bell does a great job of avoiding the other cars on track, slicing past as the rest of the field bunches up under braking. At 154 mph, Bell leaves the track, still driving the car to minimize damage and speed. He downshifts twice, attempting to slow the car. He pitches the car sideways.
At 136 mph, Bell hits the tire barrier broadside. A few seconds later, he unbelts and climbs out of the car.
It’s a truly shocking impact, especially when taken in combination with the video below, which illustrates just how fast Bell was moving when he left the circuit.
Fortunately, modern race car construction and safety equipment, including racing seats, HANS devices, and, on the circuit, the movable barrier, all came together to let Bell escape what could easily have been a fatal crash with no serious injury.