IndyCar: Briscoe goes airborne in frightening crash, but emerges unscathed

4 Comments

In one of the most frightening wrecks of the season, Ryan Briscoe went airborne and flipped end-over-end on the final lap of Saturday’s MAV TV 500 IndyCar race – and then simply walked away, thankfully uninjured.

As the white flag lap began at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Juan Pablo Montoya’s car came up on Ryan Hunter-Reay, who explained what happened from there.

WATCH: Full replay of Saturday’s race

“I wasn’t expecting Montoya to come up,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “I was just sitting next to, not sure, and waiting to get into Turn 1 and Montoya came right up and clipped the front of the car.”

Hunter-Reay got on the brakes, but the impact sent his car hooking to the left and right into Briscoe’s right front.

Briscoe went end-over-end, flipped upside down and hit hard into the ACS infield turf.

“It’s tough, it was pack racing,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was crazy. I was getting pushed down and up comes Montoya. I’m just glad Briscoe is OK. That was a nasty flip he took there. It could have gone a lot worse.”

Beccy Gordon, Hunter-Reay’s wife, was quite upset about both the closing laps, as well as the last-lap incident.

It spoiled what potentially might have been a top-five finish for Hunter-Reay and Briscoe, as well.

“One lap to go,” he quipped. “Figures we couldn’t make it to the finish. It was looking like a good finish. We turned some things around and we’ll look to do that again in Milwaukee.”

Briscoe took the incident in stride.

”First thing I did was to call my wife and tell her I’m ok,” Briscoe said with a smile. “She’s more distraught than any of us.”

Indeed, his spouse, sportscaster Nicole Briscoe, was.

“No one made that happen intentionally,” Ryan Briscoe added. “The racing was so close all day. Unfortunately, something bad did happen, but we’re all okay, which is a testament to the safety of the cars.”

In a sense, being deprived of a good finish actually wound up probably hurting Briscoe more than the actual impact itself.

“We wish it didn’t (happen),” he said. “It’s not the way we wanted to go out. It would have been really nice to bring a strong result home.”

Briscoe then took time out to wish fellow driver James Hinchcliffe well and tried to leave Fontana with an optimistic outlook.

“We want to keep wishing Hinch a quick recovery,” Briscoe said. “We’ve got a good car and a great team and I think we’re going to have a real shot at winning races this year.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

Leave a comment

While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter