26. A Sore Thumb (ADAC Formel Masters, Sachsenring, 2012)
ADAC Formel Masters was not really anything too special during its run, which ended after 2014 when it was replaced by Formula 4. It was a decent league for rising stars that besides this one incident and some other silliness, was pretty standard.
2012 at the Sachsenring was another story, however. During the third and final race of the weekend, Nicolas Pohler went off into the gravel trap and was out of the race. For some reason, the safety truck driver decided it was a decent idea to park at the track`s outside while salvaging his wrecked car. The field, which included current GP2 driver Marvin Kirchhofer, along with Roy Nissany, one of a few Israeli racers to graduate from the track at Eilat, trudged on by under safety car, and of course, the inevitable happened.
Out of absolutely nowhere, Florian Herzog`s car snapped around and went right into the back of the safety truck, leading to a massive stackup in the middle of the corner which collected several cars. Kim-Alexander Giersiepen, running in the back as usual, lost control and hit the safety truck in the opposite side from where Herzog had struck it, sending the safety truck airborne in one of the most vicious hits seen in any national level open wheel series. Kim-Alexander was fortunate enough to emerge from the crash with fairly minor injuries, but the race was never restarted. Too little of it had been completed to get any points from, and it was declared a non event.
…Well, at least from all that, we got to learn from the commentator that the Germans don`t have a term for `yellow flag location`. I knew that most languages call a `safety car` a `safety car`, but come on, guys. There`s borrowing English terms, and then there`s lifting them out of English sentences like one of those grabbers that kids play with. Weird comparison, I know, it is the only one I could make.
25. The Russian Judge (FIA GT, Le Mans, 1999)
First off, I should say why this incident is so low. Basically, it was this or John Sheldon`s crash in 1984, and it couldn`t be both, as, with two exceptions (F1 Monaco because of just how much strange stuff has happened there, and Xfinity Bristol because the two incidents were part of the same entry due to how similar they were), I can`t have the same race on here twice. I originally went with John Sheldon`s crash, and placed it here. While doing research, I found that John Sheldon`s crash had killed a marshal, and was therefore ineligible, because including fatal crashes on what has been a mostly sarcasm-filled list would be…a pretty scumbag thing to do. So I went with the CLR, but couldn`t move it higher up the list. So…yeah.
If you are a motorsport fan who is unaware of this incident…then…yeah, you may be living under a rock.
Mercedes` backstory at Le Mans is…intriguing. They dropped out of Le Mans after the 1955 Disaster, but eventually eased their way back into it. By 1999, they had three cars as part of their team, and wanted to introduce a new prototype called the CLR to the track to replace the CLK GTR. An issue with the aerodynamics, however, made its way into the cars during construction, and was not picked up until the cars were finished. The flaw allowed for air to almost built up in pockets when going over a hill, of which there are a few at Le Mans, instead of being properly dispersed. Coupled with slipstream, this allowed for the car to easily take flight. During Happy Hour on Thursday, Mark Webber took to the skies down Mulsanne in the lead car, which was a complete writeoff after apparently going into the trees. Webber emerged from the car unhurt, and the cars were allowed to take to the track in qualifying, which actually went fine.
On Saturday, during a warmup, Mulsanne became a launch pad for the CLR, with Webber again in the driver`s seat.
This time the car ended up staying in bounds and landing on the track inverted. Webber`s team withdrew, but the other two Mercedes kept going after the manufacturer fixed what they could. Guess what happened to Peter Dumbreck during the race at Indianapolis?
Mercedes parked the surviving CLR and went home, vowing to not return to Le Mans for a long while. Again*. Thankfully, Peter was okay after his midair cartwheel. It would be nine years before another blowover occurred at Le Mans, and they`ve happened every now and again since. It`s not exactly easy to completely prevent, with how lightweight these cars are…
24. Immediate Menace (VW Fun Cup, Brands Hatch, 2014)
…All right, taxbrain*, what made you think THIS was a good move?
VW Fun Cup is a one make series that runs Volkswagen Beetles, and its big race is a twenty five hour endurance race at Spa, which can see about one hundred and fifty cars take to the track at once. In 2014, however, a man decided that he didn`t want it to be a one make series…maybe a one manu series, kinda like the Lotus Cup, which sees cars ranging from the Lotus Exige, which is a GT3 car, to the Lotus 2-Eleven, which an ultralight open top car like the Westfield Cup or Caterham 7…yes, I know Caterham 7s are just rebranded and modernized Lotus 7s, but Caterham won the lawsuit, so I`m including it.
In the summer of 2014, a man decided to drive the Volkswagen Polo onto the circuit at Brands Hatch with his girlfriend in the passenger seat, leading to rather audible confusion from the track`s announcer. The girlfriend, who was the actual owner of the car, was of course beginning to panic, but the driver just kept going, with a friend in the back filming it on a cell phone and laughing like a psychopath. As the Polo had actually left from the pit lane, one driver was delayed in returning to the track (he later uploaded the footage of the Polo pulling in front of him onto his channel, which identified the delayed racer as Jon Tomlinson), and another driver, whose name wasn`t given, slowed up and almost caused a pileup, believing the safety car was out. The four hour endurance race was ended with a half hour to go, and the driver`s girlfriend was taken to the hospital in hysterics, made worse due to her having a blood pressure disorder (which the driver nor his friend were aware of, apparently).
Later that year, the track invader, who was eventually ID`d as twenty two year old Jack Cottle of East Sussex, was jailed for eight months. The friend in the back seat`s punishment was not made immediately clear. The girlfriend, Saskia Fisk, later specified that they were only `seeing one another` at the time and that she wouldn`t be talking to Jack nor his friend, Zac Copson, anytime soon.
Honestly, though, while I find Jack`s move utterly disgusting from a safety perspective and the fact that things could have gone much worse, I also must say that if I had a girl that I liked who looked like this…
…I would make sure that my actions did NOT cause her insane amounts of anxiety and stress…then again, I`m probably not the best person to give that advice…let`s continue on with the list.
23. To Tell The Truth (Barber Dodge, Elkhart Lake, 1995)
I don`t know much about Barber Dodge Pro Series, though really not much needs to be said. It appears to have been a decent series for the up and coming open wheelers in North America. I do know that they ran Daytona once, which very rarely sees open wheel racing. To my knowledge, a regional Formula Ford series run by the SCCA is all that Daytona sees in terms of open wheelers, though they did see the 2015 runoffs as well. They mostly supported CART, though street races in support of national sports car series were also common, such as one in support of Trans Am`s rather bizarre race at the Reno Hilton, a layout that included the hotel`s porte cochere.
One of these racers showed that he was most certainly not one of those young talented drivers in 1995 at Road America. The leader decided to have some fun with the rule saying that the leader controls the run to the timing line, and inched up the hill. While I don`t know why he did this, the surrounding drivers saw what was going on and, if they weren`t already in a low gear (which they should have been, as it was still the pace lap), shifted to one, preparing to shift to a high gear once they approached the timing line. Albert Spinola, however, was either not in a proper gear for the pace lap or switched to a higher gear, failing to notice the slow pace. Whatever the reason, Albert accelerated at double the speed the rest of the cars were running at, and flipped over after riding over the top of the car in front of him. Due to lack of records, I was not able to find if Albert was a DNS in race two or if the car was repaired in time for the second race in what was the year`s only doubleheader, but I do know that Albert did not show up for the rest of the season.
In 2003, a falloff in field size (first round was 27, last round was 19) plus the planned transition from CART to Champ Car led to Skip Barber choosing to focus on their racing school, and thus Barber Dodge Pro was done after almost twenty seasons. It did its job, however, as champions include Jeff Simmons, Kenny Brack, AJ Allmendinger, and Bryan Herta, along with some lesser, but still fairly notable names such as Nico Rondet and Fredrik Larsson.
22. Mounting The Fence (V8SC, Sydney, 2010)
Championship battles are fun. Championship battles in monsoons are really fun.
Almost all Australian championships use a similar points quirk that makes things interesting, but can kill a league quite easily. I`d best explain it as an example.
So you`re lucky enough to race in F1. You crash out during the race. Chances are, you finished outside the top ten, so you get no points. But the next race is a real smashfest, and you crash, but still finish tenth. So do you get the one point given to tenth place?…Yes, as long as you completed enough of the race to be classified.
So F1 didn`t work out so well, and the next year you move to Virgin Supercars in Australia. Your first race goes poorly, and you finish last. However, everyone gets points in Virgin Supercars, so you still get a few. Now it`s race two, and you`re running all right, but crash late. The race has been quite messy, and you finish midfield. So, do you get points?…No. You were not running at the checkers. You must finish the last lap to receive your finishing position`s points in Virgin Supercars, made better by the fact that there is no classification rule. In FIA sanctioned competition, a car that fails to finish, but still completes 90% of the laps, can still get points, but not in Virgin Supercars. This theoretically (it will never happen) means that everyone except for one car could crash on the penultimate lap, and that one car is the only one who gets points. In that situation, a red flag would likely be flown and the results would revert to the prior lap, but via a literal interpretation of the rules, it is theoretically possible.
Now, this points table defines Aussie racing. Almost everyone uses it. In Virgin Supercars, which has a License to Race system not unlike NASCAR’s Charters, the field sizes very rarely grow or shrink. Whatever it is at the opener, it’ll likely be at the finale. The big races at Sandown and Bathurst often see one or two one offs, but that’s about it. Not giving points to those who didn’t finish the race makes for consistency being vital, and it works very well in Virgin Supercars. In club and amateur level events, it makes it so those with a lot of money can’t just throw their cash at the car and make it go. If their car doesn’t finish, they get no points. This keeps points battles interesting, since both the haves and the have nots go in with a shot. Of course, if the haves actually resource their money well, they’ll almost always win. But if they don’t, they could be beaten by one of the independent have nots, some of which only have one car in their shop.
Now, that’s actually pretty brilliant, so where’s the issue?…If the field size is low, or the race is messy. For those who fail to finish in small fields, the penalty is catastrophic. The standard Aussie points system awards everyone who finishes points, there is no lower limit like in FIA-sanctioned events (and again, those who fail to finish in FIA races can still get points if they are scored in the top ten and have finished 90% of the race). If the field size is ten, and everyone finishes, tenth doesn’t get too much (to my knowledge, they get 39 compared to the winner’s 75), but they still get quite a few points. If the field size is ten, and five people finish, sixth place just missed out on a potential 51 points, two thirds what the winner got. It’s a massive Catch 22.
This all became apparent in 2010. Entering Homebush, James Courtney lead the championship with 2,932 points. Jamie Whincup had 2,879, Mark Winterbottom had 2,729. Frosty`d need a miracle for the title, as points were doubled (i.e. 150 for the winner, and two races were being held).
And then, with fifteen laps to go in race one, a rainstorm hit, starting at the west half of the circuit. Bizarrely, the front running competitors decided NOT to pit for rain tires. While it was at the other side of the track from the pit lane, methinks even from there you can see that it`s pouring at the other side either by radar or with your own two eyes. But by the time they did finally notice the gigantic green spot/rain cloud, their drivers had passed pit in.
But that wasn`t the end of it. Despite having a full chicane to recognize that it was raining and that maybe slow and steady would win this race, the drivers decided to race normally on dry tires in the wet. And with that, the fate of eleven drivers was sealed. Even worse, 75% had long since been passed, but the officials decided NOT to end the race. JONATHON WEBB WOULD END UP WINNING.
This ridiculous set of moves by both drivers and officials meant that Frosty and Whincup would be getting zero points in race one, while Courtney returned to the race after the pileup and netted sixty points, meaning the only chance Whincup had left would be if Courtney DNF`d race two.
Guess what DIDN`T happen.
21. Dallarism (Italian F3, Monza, 2012)
Speaking of, what kind of a name is Mygale?
While without a doubt Euroformula Open and European Formula Three are doing fine, national Formula Three leagues are now…kinda irrelevant. Japan, Britain, Austria, Australia, and Brazil are the only countries to have non historic Formula Three national series, with Britain`s being a renamed Formula 4 league with increased pace (aka it`s an F4 league using F4 cars that have been `tuned up` to run at the pace of F3 cars), Austria`s being a partial historic league, and Australia`s series just barely getting by year after year, and was actually downgraded after 2015. Oh, and Switzerland has an F3 league that runs hillclimbs. Doesn`t count. Nor does Chile’s league, which is not sanctioned by the FIA, and I don’t think has even been recognized by them.
To think so many countries once had national F3 series…what, you want a full list? Okay, here`s a full list of countries that once had a Formula Three series.
*ahem* Spain (Spanish F3 still exists as a subchampionship in Euroformula Open, but not as an actual league), France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Russia, Turkey, Greece, East Germany, United States, Mexico (actually, Mexico had two). Well then.
All right, onto the moment. Ten cars showed up to the very last race for Italian F3 at Monza in 2012, eight Dallaras and two Mygales. Romain Agostini`s Mygale and the two Dallaras of Eddie Cheever III and Brandon Maisano had the big shot at the title entering the race, which consisted of two features and a sprint, instead of the standard one feature and one sprint. Eddie Cheever III won the first round, but was DQ`d from race two, as was Maisano (unsure of the reason). Agostini didn`t do as well as he wanted in race two, but oh well, he was the champion! The sprint race was the last one up, and he had a gap that simply could not be surmounted!
…And then the weird stuff started. An infraction that I was not able to find specifics to meant that every single Dallara on the grid was disqualified from race three. Agostini and Nicolas Latifi were the only ones classified that race, and it was a one two for them, being the only two driving Mygales.
…I have a feeling that the reason they were DQ`d is pretty basic, but I searched for about a half hour and got nothing beyond something on their cars that wasn`t allowed. Probably won`t be long before I am told what it is…
20. No Thanks (F1, Montreal, 1991)
This has happened a few times, but I`m only going to include this one.
Premature celebrations are probably the funniest style of fail in the eyes of the internet. I decided to only include one on here, and it`s this one, the first instance of a driver leading every single lap in an F1 race except for the last.
…I think the pictures will explain this one. Way to go, Nigel Mansell. It takes a certain type of idiot to let the car die because you were too busy waving to the fans to notice that you should probably take care of your gearbox.
19. Well, Okay, If You Insist (WTCC, Pau, 2009)
I actually don`t find this one too weird, but you guys would not forgive me if I left this one off.
The World Touring Car Championship came about in 1987, running in Europe, Oceania, and once in Asia. It was very, VERY popular, and what`s what did it in. The FIA saw that the series` popularity might threaten that of F1`s, and bye bye WTCC. It returned in a one weekend sort of tourney format in the mid 90s, and there was of course the failed International Touring Car Championship in 1996, but a legitimate WTCC only returned in 2005, with its big race being the finale at Macau. Macau was chucked for 2015, but returns in 2017. Let`s see if it`ll make this series better.
Franz Engstler was one of the many to make the jump to TCR, but now that WTCC is regaining ground, TCR seems much less inviting. It doesn`t help they lied about running Monaco in 2017 when they hadn`t even told officials that they were interested, but that`s neither here nor there. Engstler`s career dates back years, and he`s one of the most experienced touring car drivers out there…you know what, why the hell am I telling you the whole backstory? You know what happened. It went absolutely viral, after all.
After a chaotic first lap at Pau in 2009…
FAILURE TO YIELD!…Yeah, that was it for WTCC at Pau…
Again: They withdrew for the first time after the 1955 Le Mans Disaster, which killed 80+ spectators and driver Pierre Levegh.
Taxbrain: This is an inside joke, and since those don’t fly in journalism, I’ll explain it real quick. This is a variant on insults such as ‘birdbrain’, and is also a reference to the company Taxbrain, which, in 2006, decided to film a commercial in which a man stole a super late model that they sponsored out of victory lane – without informing the driver, Justin Philpott. It, of course, wasn’t received well. This moment would have made the list easily had Justin not let the air out of the band and re-signed them to be his sponsor in 2007 a few weeks later…