When Kyle Kirkwood clipped an out-of-control Felix Rosenqvist in the late stages of the Indianapolis 500, he was sent spinning hard into the outside wall and ended up sliding across the track upside down.
The moment had another element of danger as well, as Kirkwood’s left rear wheel came loose from the car in the collision and ended up flying over the trackside catch fencing.
Luckily, the wheel assembly completely cleared the crowded grandstand, and landed in a parking lot between the stands and the Turn 2 suites. The only damage done was to a parked car in the lot.
During the red flag period to clean up the wreckage, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles rushed out to where the wheel landed to personally assess the situation and direct the next steps.
IndyCar has indicated that the tethers built into the wheel did not fail, but has not yet released more information about the incident.
Speaking to the IndyStar the day after the race, IndyCar and IMS owner Roger Penske stated that he has a team investigating how the wheel was able to fly away from the car and become a dangerous projectile.
“I talked to the Dallara guys, and we’re going to look at it,” Penske told the IndyStar. “We have tethers on those [wheels], and I’ve never seen a wheel come off of those.
“That, to me, is probably the scariest thing, and we’ve got to fix that so it doesn’t happen again. Our technical guys are going to have a look at it.”
With only 130 feet between the grandstands and the suites, it was particularly fortunate that no fans were injured when the wheel landed outside the track.
The owner of the car that was damaged was given a special opportunity to meet with track officials on the yard of bricks, and is being gifted a new car by Penske Entertainment to replace her old one.
The Indy 500 has the highest speeds of any race on the IndyCar calendar, and accidents can become particularly dangerous for those involved.
The highest levels of management are looking into this particular incident to ensure that fans are kept as safe as possible during any future accidents.