Angle of impact caused Moore's death
Changes in wall, pavement at track proposed to prevent repeat of fatal wreck
By Robin Miller The Indianapolis Star
INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 7, 1999) -- The on-board telemetry said Greg Moore's fatal accident registered 154 in G-forces, but it was the angle of impact that produced the devastating results.
Moore was killed in the early going of last Sunday's Marlboro 500. If his car hadn't tripped onto its side while sliding across the infield grass of the California Speedway, the 24-year-old Canadian might well have survived.
But when Moore's car spun down from the turn two banking and got into the grass, it crossed the concrete surface road, dug in and flipped -- hitting the wall cockpit first and inducing massive head injuries.
Dr. Steve Olvey, director of CART's medical affairs, said it was the inverted angle of impact, not the speed, that proved fatal.
A similar crash involving Richie Hearn a few moments before Moore's didn't result in the same consequences. Hearn's car remained on its wheels when it slid across the surface road before plowing into the wall.
In the aftermath of Championship Auto Racing Teams latest tragedy, the circumstances that sent Moore to his death are being examined and changes are likely to be made at the 2-mile oval in Fontana, Calif.
"I think we'll consider paving the track at least two-thirds of the way down into the infield coming off turn two," said Wally Dallenbach, CART's director of competition. "When a car jumps out at 220 mph, nothing can help a driver until they make contact.
"All the advantages leave when a car enters the grass, and the surface road was six inches lower than the grass. Greg's car tripped because it was like a flat rock skipping across a still pond. It dug in and inverted itself.
"We'll also look at putting tires in front of the wall and maybe another independent row of tires 15 feet in front of that one. Basically, try and build a catcher's mitt."
Of course, the logical question is: Why weren't there already tire walls in place? CART uses a tire wall in its race at Brazil.
"The tires aren't there now because we haven't perfected tire walls (to protect against cars) going in at an angle," he replied. "You've got to be careful and design a system that doesn't rip the car apart.
"All those turns at Brazil are more than 90-degree turns. That track is almost a triangle and the tires there serve as a catcher's mitt. They greatly reduce the impact.
"I've talked with Greg (Penske) and Les (Richter) of California Speedway, and we'll look into doing this at Michigan and maybe other places, too. I can think of a half dozen ovals with the same headache."
Dallenbach did credit CART's wheel-tethering system and added fencing for protecting the infield crowd in Moore's accident.
"The tethers were 100 percent successful and I promise you that saved any wheels from going into the motorhome crowd," said Dallenbach, referring to all the motorhomes parked right behind the wall that Moore hit.
"We added a catch fence on Thursday and the motorhome people were moaning about impairing their view. But Monday morning they were thanking race management for putting the fencing up."
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