INDIANAPOLIS – Sebastien Bourdais has been diagnosed with multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip following an incident today while attempting to qualify for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, INDYCAR announced late Saturday.
Additionally, according to INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Bourdais will undergo surgery on his pelvis this evening at IU Health Methodist Hospital.
“Sebastien is in good hands here at IU Methodist Hospital with the staff and now we just wait for him to recover,” Bourdais’ team owner, Dale Coyne, said in a release.
The first day of qualifying for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil was interrupted – literally and emotionally – by Bourdais’ heavy accident just over halfway through the field of 33’s first and only attempts to run on Saturday.
Bourdais was the 19th driver to take to the track, driving the newly sponsored No. 18 GEICO Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. With his practice pace all week, Bourdais was a legitimate threat to make the Fast Nine shootout on Sunday.
He ran the two fastest laps of the day, at 231.472 and an even quicker 231.595 mph, before it all went wrong in Turn 2. The back end snapped and as Bourdais turned right to correct it, wound up going in straight into the Turn 2 SAFER barrier at almost a direct head-on impact.
That snapped the car and turned it over, before the car came right side up. It was a jarring impact that immediately cast a pall – and a silence – over the usually noisy Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and raised immediate concerns among the IndyCar fraternity.
Dale Coyne Racing teammate Ed Jones, who only barely got knocked out of the Fast Nine shootout following JR Hildebrand’s late run, said simply, “Yeah, at the moment we’re just hoping the best for Seb after the crash. Hopefully we hear some better news soon.”
Scott Dixon, one of the leaders of the IndyCar community, is very close to Bourdais. Bourdais and Dixon are teammates in the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT program in sports cars, and race in separate cars at endurance races in both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans, the latter of which is next month.
Dixon said had Bourdais completed his run without incident, there was a good chance he would have been at the top of the sheets today.
“The one that obviously stood out for me during the whole week was Bourdais. Thinking of him, hoping he’s okay. It was definitely a big hit. Hopefully he should be fine,” Dixon said.
“But I think he was definitely going to be the one that had a clear advantage I think over the rest of the field. So I feel bad for that.”
Ed Carpenter, who ended the day fastest, said he continued to wish for Bourdais’ fast recovery. He also said you need to put incidents to the back of mind after they happen and press on.
“It takes your breath away. I was watching it in the garage. That’s one of the biggest single-car qualifying crashes I’ve seen around here,” Carpenter admitted.
“As soon as I saw him correct and the angle he was going in at, you knew it was going to be big. I’m hoping he’s okay. It was good to see him moving around the amount we did see him moving around. Hopefully we’ll get some good news tonight.
“But things like that happen. I love doing this. I love being here. I’m sure Scott is no different. When you do it for this long, you see a lot of things happen, it’s something you talk to your family about, and you’re all committed in together.
“When you get in the car and put your helmet on, it all goes away. We’re out there to do a job, to entertain the fans, do the best job we can for our team and sponsors.
“It does take your breath away when you see it. When you get out there and get into battle again, it all goes away.”
Like Bourdais, another recent Formula 1 driver-turned-IndyCar full-timer in Max Chilton explained just how finite the knife edge is. Had he not lifted on his third of four laps, he may have met a similar fate in the wall as Bourdais did.
“You’re only ever a mph away from a problem around here. It’s difficult,” Chilton told NBC Sports. “We trimmed out – which is risky – but if you got that extra step, maybe you’re quick for one or two laps but the tires start to wear out and the wind gets stronger, and you’re off.
“I actually lifted into Turn 2, where Bourdais went off; I turned late and had a bit of understeer so it looked like I was going straight into the wall – and that was a 228 – but then the next lap I got into the high 229s. It’s so close.”
Quickly proving he cares about the new IndyCar community he is a part of, at least for one race, even Fernando Alonso was serious to ensure Bourdais’ health was all that mattered.
“That’s the most important thing of today, you know, that Sebastien is okay,” Alonso said. “He seems to be okay. Yeah, definitely I was doing the interviews when the crash happened. I need to see more precise what happened. It seems the car went loose into one, he lost control unfortunately.
“But, yeah, as I said, he seems okay. I know him from F1 time, and also yesterday we were talking in the casino, in the event, all together about the cars, about how he feels here, how fast he was on Friday. He was still very fast today until lap two.
“Hopefully everything is okay with him. Quick recovery, and welcome him back here at the track as soon as possible, if not tomorrow, in the next days.”
Alonso’s thoughts are well received. Meanwhile, others in the rest of the IndyCar world have weighed in on Twitter.
On Friday, Bourdais was asked about ups-and-downs in his season – he led the points after three races with a win, second and eighth, then has had back-to-back DNFs in the two races since, and has had two engine failures in the last week. He just said at the time, that’s the process of racing.
“Just have days like that. It’s what this season has been for us so far,” Bourdais said on Friday. “We’ve had really good days and really pretty terrible days. But the good thing is, you know, when we’re given the opportunity, we seem to make the best of it. The car is quick. We’re having a good time.
“It’s racing. You are always going to have ups and downs. You just keep plugging away and just do your thing. Eventually hopefully it all averages out and you get more good days than bad ones.”
The most important thing is that good ones lie ahead in Bourdais’ recovery process.
THERMAL, Calif. – Winning the Indy 500 is a crowning achievement for driver and car owner, but for Chip Ganassi, last May’s victory by Marcus Ericsson had meaning even beyond just capturing one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
When Ganassi was 5 years old and growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his father, Floyd, attended a convention in Indianapolis in 1963. Floyd went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to tour the track and visit the former museum that used to stand next to the main gate on 16th and Georgetown.
Ganassi’s father brought young Chip a souvenir from the gift shop. It was an 8-millimeter film of the 1963 Indy 500, a race won by the legendary Parnelli Jones.
“I must have watched it about 1,000 times,” Ganassi recalled. “More importantly than that, something you did when you were 5 years old is still with you today.
“I was 50 years old when I celebrated my Thanksgiving with Parnelli. It dawned on me that something I did when I was 5 years old took me to when I was 50 years old. That’s pretty special.”
Ericsson and Ganassi were presented with their “Baby Borgs,” the mini-replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy, in a ceremony Feb. 2 at The Thermal Club (which played host to NTT IndyCar Series preseason testing). The win in the 106th Indy 500 marked the sixth time a Ganassi driver won the biggest race in the world.
Ganassi will turn 65 on May 24, just four days before the 107th Indianapolis 500 on May 28. The 2023 race will mark the 60th anniversary of the victory by Jones, who is now the oldest living winner of the Indianapolis 500 at 89.
Jones wanted to do something special for Ericsson and Ganassi, so each was given framed photos personally inscribed by Jones.
“Congratulations Marcus Ericsson and my good friend Chip Ganassi on winning the 2022 Indianapolis 500,” Jones said in remarks conveyed by BorgWarner publicist Steve Shunck. “There is no greater race in the whole world and winning it in 1963 was by far the biggest thrill in my life.”
Ganassi’s relationship with his racing hero began 60 years ago, but the two have shared some important moments since then.
It was Jones that signed off on Ganassi’s first Indianapolis 500 license in 1982. Jones was one of the veteran observers who worked with Ganassi and other rookie drivers that year to ensure they were capable of competing in the high-speed, high-risk Indianapolis 500.
When Ganassi turned 50, he got to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with Jones.
“We’ve been friends over the years,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “He wrote me a personal note and sent me some personal photographs. It really says what this race is all about and how important it is to win the biggest auto race in the world.”
Michelle Collins, the director of global communications and marketing for BorgWarner, presented the “Baby Borgs,” first to Ganassi and then to Ericsson.
“More special is winning the Indianapolis 500,” Ganassi said during the presentation. “It’s been a big part of my life. I want to call out my buddy, Roger Penske, and thank him for the stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and what it means to us. It’s about the history, the tradition and, to me, it’s about the people that have meant so much in my life.
“Thanks for the trophy, Marcus.”
The Baby Borg presentation also came on the birthday of sculptor William Behrends, who has crafted the Bas-relief sterling silver face of each winner on the Borg-Warner Trophy since 1990. The “Baby Borg” presents each winner with a miniature of one of the most famous trophies in sports.
“I have to thank BorgWarner for everything that has happened since winning the Indianapolis 500, including the trip to Sweden,” said Ericsson, who took a November victory lap in his native country. “I’m very thankful for that because it’s memories that are going to be with me for the rest of my life.
“To bring the Borg-Warner Trophy to my hometown, seeing all the people there on the city square on a dark day in the middle of November. It was filled with people and that was very special.
“I’m very proud and honored to be part of Chip Ganassi Racing. To win the Indianapolis 500 with that team is quite an honor. It’s a team effort and a lot of people worked very hard to make this happen.
“Our focus now is to go back-to-back at the Indy 500.”
If Ericsson is successful in becoming the first driver to win back-to-back Indy since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02, he can collect an additional $420,000 in the Borg-Warner Rollover Bonus. With Castroneves the last driver to collect, the bonus has grown to an astronomical amount over 21 years.
Ericsson is from Kumla, Sweden, so the $420,000 would have an exchange rate of $4,447,641.67 Swedish Kronor.
“It’s a nice thing to know I could get that if I do win it again,” Ericsson told NBC Sports. “But the Indianapolis 500 with its history as the biggest and greatest race in the world, it doesn’t matter with the money, with the points, with anything. Everyone is going to go out there and do everything to win that race.
“It’s great to know that, but I will race just as hard.”
A popular slogan in racing is “Chip Likes Winners.” After winning the 106th Indy 500, Ganassi must really love Ericsson.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than that, does it? I’m very thankful to be driving for Chip,” Ericsson said. “He likes winners and winning the Indianapolis 500, it doesn’t get better than that.”
When Ericsson was presented with his Baby Borg, he stood off to the side and admired it the way a child looks at a special gift on Christmas morning. The wide-eyed amazement of his career-defining moment was easy to read and met with delight by executives of BorgWarner (an automotive and technology company that has sponsored the Borg-Warner Trophy since its 1935 debut).
“I noticed that immediately and I was watching him look at it wishing I had a camera to capture that,” Collins told NBC Sports. “But maybe not because we always have our phones in front of us and it’s nice to take in that moment as it is. That is what makes the moment well worth it.”
Said BorgWarner executive vice president and chief strategic officer Paul Farrell: “It’s very special to have the big trophy that has been around since 1935 and to have a piece of that. Hopefully it’s something that (Ericsson) cherishes. We think it’s special, and clearly, Marcus Ericsson thinks it is very special.”
The process takes several more steps before the face is reduced to the size of an egg and casted in sterling silver. It is attached to the permanent Borg-Warner Trophy and unveiled at a ceremony later in the year. Ericsson’s face was unveiled last October during a ceremony in Indianapolis.
That’s when it hit Ericsson, a three-time winner in IndyCar after going winless in Formula One over 97 starts from 2014-18.
“Until then, it was strange because you are so busy with your season right after the Indy 500 you don’t really get much time to sit back and think about what you had accomplished,” Ericsson said. “It was the offseason before I really realized what I had done.”
The permanent trophy remains on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but has been known to travel with the winning driver on special tours, such as the Nov. 3-7 trip to Sweden.
“It’s been incredible to see the amount of interest in me and the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500,” Ericsson said. “The trophy tour with the Borg-Warner Trophy we did in November really made a huge impact in Sweden. I was on every TV show, morning TV, magazines, newspapers, everywhere. People are talking about IndyCar racing. People are talking about Marcus Ericsson. It’s been huge.
“I was back in Sweden last month for the Swedish Sports Awards and I finished third in the Sports Performance of the Year. Motorsports is usually not even nominated there, and I finished third. That says a lot about the interest and support I’ve gotten back home in Sweden.”
Ericsson continued to reap the rewards of his Indianapolis 500 victory last week at the lavish Thermal Club, about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, California.
Earlier in the day before the Baby Borg presentation, Ericsson, and Chip Ganassi were among the 27 car-driver combinations that completed the first day of IndyCar’s “Spring Training” on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile road course. The next day, Ericsson turned the test’s fastest lap.
The 32-year-old still seems to be riding the wave, along with his girlfriend, Iris Tritsaris Jondahl, a Greece native who also lived in Sweden and now lives with Ericsson in Indianapolis.
“Today, receiving my Baby Borg, it was another thing of making it real,” Ericsson said. “It’s not a dream. It’s reality. To get the Baby Borg and bring it home. My girlfriend, Iris, and I are house hunting, looking for a house in Indianapolis. It will definitely have a very special place in our new home.”
Ericsson told NBC Sports his most cherished trophy before getting his Baby Borg was for his first NTT IndyCar Series win in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in 2021.
“It was such a huge win for me and such a huge breakthrough for me and my career,” he said. “After that, it catapulted me into a top driver in IndyCar.”
The Brickyard win was another level for Ericsson, who moved to Ganassi in 2020.
“Marcus kept himself in the race all day,” Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told NBC Sports. “Anybody that ran a race like Marcus ran, maybe you deserve the race win, but you don’t always get it. Marcus did everything that it took, and we are really, really proud of him.”
Ericsson also proved last year to be one of the best oval drivers in the series, a much different form of racing than he experienced until he came to the United States.
“Racing in Europe and around the world, I always liked high-speed corners,” he explained. “It was always my favorite. I always had this idea if I go to IndyCar and race on the ovals, it is something that would suit me and my driving style. I was always excited to try that. When I came to IndyCar and started to drive on ovals, I liked it straight away. It worked for me and my style.
“The first few attempts at Indy, I had good speed, but it was always some small mistakes that got me out of contention. I learned from them. I’m very proud I was able to pull it off, but it was a lot of hard work behind that.”
The victory in the Indianapolis 500 is etched in history, as is Ericsson’s face on the trophy.
“It’s such a special thing,” the driver said. “The BorgWarner people and IndyCar and everyone at IMS, I get to experience so many cool things since winning the Indy 500. It’s a win that keeps on giving. It never ends. It still does.
“I can’t wait to get back to Indianapolis, the month of May, as the champion. I still have to pinch myself. It’s a dream, for sure.”
Ganassi doesn’t have to pinch himself — all he needs to do is look at his collection of Baby Borgs.
His first Indy 500 win — as a team co-owner with Pat Patrick — came in 1989 with Emerson Fittipaldi’s thrilling duel against Al Unser Jr.
In 1990, Ganassi formed Chip Ganassi Racing. Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, Scott Dixon in 2008, Dario Franchitti in 2010 and 2012 and Ericsson in 2022.
“It’s a feather in the team’s cap for sure just to have our representation on the Borg-Warner Trophy with five other drivers,” Ganassi said. “It’s a testament to the team, a testament to Mike Hull that runs the team in Indianapolis. I just feel really lucky to be a part of it. It’s great to work with a great team of great people.
“Just to relive that moment again and again never gets old; never goes away. I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in. It’s an honor to represent the team with the great people that it took to bring Marcus across the finish line. He and I get to celebrate events like this, but it’s really about the people at Chip Ganassi Racing in Indianapolis that pull this all together.”