The 2008 Formula Atlantic champion Markus Niemela had his open-wheel road racing career stall out a year after winning his title. However, he’s reinvented himself as a dirt racer the last several seasons.
The Finn, though, had never been through a wild ride quite like this one he had at Perris Auto Speedway in California the other night.
A new axle broke, which caused a freak accident where Niemela’s car somersaulted into the catch-fencing.
Here’s Niemela’s post written on Facebook, describing the accident:
“Here’s Loudpedal’s video of my crash last week… Again, I want to make clear that the axle that broke was top notch and new (just as everything else at JFM). It was just one of those freak accidents that are impossible to predict. I’m very thankful that not a dime was spared and all the safety equipment were top of the line and up to date (namely the ButlerBuilt custom seat, ratchet belts, high quality Arai helmet and a real HANS).
“I’ve been injured quite a few times before in different things and although I pretty much walked away with only a little concussion from this one, it was still the most violent accident of my life. Obviously I had very, very good luck… and I also gotta say that although I’ve never been comfortable to talk about my faith or anything (especially not in public) when things like this happen it makes you think and appreciate stuff even more.
“Thank you all for all for the support and the nice messages!
“And mom, don’t watch this!”
The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.
The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.
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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.
He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.
“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”
It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).