Recovering racer spotlights racing's taboo topic
IndyCar star highlights the trials and tribulations of racing's dark side
I was lucky enough to meet the late and very great Allan Simonsen on one occasion. It was my first ever Bathurst 1000, and I was rolling a model of a Ford Falcon along the signing session tables for all the Ford racers to sign. Simonsen — Greg Murphy's co-driver at the time, in a Holden — signed it, before getting a hasty grilling from his Holden-blooded teammate.
It was devastating when he died at the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans, and prompted many questions about the sport we all love.
While talking online to a friend of mine who races GT cars similar to what Simonsen made his name in, I made the mistake of linking him an interesting article I had skimmed through about the science of Simonsen's death.
It ended the conversation. “Don't link me that stuff, man.”
The notion of death in racing is something I've never brought up with a driver since. It's the elephant in a room, rearing its head in the media every time the unfortunate and the horrific take place on a race track.
One of the most recent examples was that of James Hinchcliffe, who violently crashed out of practice for last year's Indianapolis 500.
Colliding with the wall at over 200mph, a component of his car pierced his body. There was massive blood loss, mass hysteria, and a driver hospitalized.
But, Hinchcliffe is evidently one determined driver. And within a period much shorter than pundits could have predicted, he was back behind the wheel. This fantastic short film on the topic, titled Driven (we're not complaining!), has been published. It stories Hinchcliffe's thoughts and feelings, and what it was like to go from 200 to 0, then back to 200 again.