Today’s race cars are simply amazing. If you need proof of that, just check out a terrifying crash that Helio Castroneves suffered during practice for the Indianapolis 500. Entering the first turn of his first full practice lap at speed, Castroneves lost control of his car, and as the car hit the wall and spun backward, it was lifted into the air where the car did a spectacular backflip, landed on its rear wheels and roll bar, then skidded down the track.

At about the 0:06 mark of the video, we get a good look at the belly of this Chevrolet-powered race car, including the channels underneath the car’s body flowing up toward the rear of the car. When the cars gets turned around, these channels meant to give the car downforce act like a wing in reverse and sent the car catapulting into the air. Castroneves fought to correct the car, but once it spun, there was nothing he could do since there are no aero safety measures in place on these cars. In NASCAR for example, there are flaps that pop up on the roof and hood that minimize lift when the car gets spun around to reduce the car from going airborne.

There is no word how fast Castroneves was traveling at the time of the accident, but he had recorded a fast lap of 227.514 mph earlier in the week. Fortunately, Castroneves wasn’t injured in the crash and has been cleared to race in next weekend’s Indy 500.

Why it matters

As much fuss that has been made in IndyCar racing in regards to aero packages this season, Castroneves’s crash showed that there are still some safety concerns regarding the aerodynamics of these race cars, if not the roll bars, thank goodness..

Source: USA Today

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