Words and photos by Michael Chandler
“Why didn’t you move?” It was a good question. The corner worker came down from his stand, handed me and a maintenance worker bottles of water, and asked me his question.
“I don’t know… I figured the armco would hold and the car would stay trackside I guess.”
He gave me a look, then started talking to the maintenance guy. I kept snapping photos of WRX the safety crew was loading on to the flatbed.
A few minutes earlier I watched my friend, Jonny Tapia, lose his WRX as he was coming through Witchcraft, the fastest turn on the Outer Loop, and do what many other drivers before him did: hit the armco on the inside of the track. I was walking up the hill, towards the top of the Attitudes, when I heard tires screaming for grip. I turned around, raised my camera and started firing off photos without even thinking.
It took a second, after the dust settled, for me to realize who was driving. I ran towards the car, while the corner worker was yelling into his radio. I got to the side of the car and asked Jonny if he was alright. Thankfully he and his passenger were. I relayed this to the corner worker, via yelling and two thumbs up, who was still shouting into his headset.
Jonny and his passenger climbed out of the wrecked Subaru, and looked at the remnants of the car. Understandably, he was torn up about the incident. She kept trying to comfort him, but it was to no avail.
He never fully broke down though. He put a lot of time into the car, and seeing it like that was crushing. In the paddock he was more at peace with the state of his car, and was hopeful about returning to the track. It will be a while before his car is back on track, but everyone in the garages was hopeful it would be.
As is procedure for an incident such as this, an ambulance came to take the fateful pair to the medical center to get checked out. After they left I saw the scope of the damage. The left front Enkei RPF1 was shattered by the force of the impact. The big APR wing was ripped off one of its uprights, and sent an end plate over the armco. The rear windows were smashed out, there were ripples in the body panels, and a tail light was destroyed. The splitter sat low and crooked, so much so that it munched a ramp as the safety crew was pulling it onto the flatbed. The front bumper was ripped off during the impact, and was thrown on to the truck after the car was loaded.
“Why didn’t you move?” I don’t know.