An attempted photo opportunity almost turned fatal during the opening lap of the Indianapolis 500 practice after Colton Herta crashed into both Scott McLaughlin and the wall at more than 200 mph.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan had its three drivers slowly fan out across the Indianapolis Motor Speedway frontstretch during Thursday’s practice. The goal was to take a picture of the three cars for an Instagram promotion. IndyCar, however, claimed that they were unaware of the Rahal photo shoot, and therefore the track was “hot for the entire field.”
McLaughlin and Simona de Silvestro luckily saw the three Rahal cars as they turned the corner so they were able to slow down to 170 mph, however, Herta could not see tha Rahal cars from his angle, so once by the time he noticed the other two drivers were slowing down, it was too late.
He was likely going around 220 mph, and based on his vehicle’s positioning in relation to the other cars, it was impossible for him to not directly run into McLaughlin. At first, Herta was actually able to avoid McLaughlin, however, in his avoidance he ended up hitting the wall, which bounced his vehicle right back into McLaughlin. Both drivers were unharmed and their vehicles immediately went to the pit for repairs.
IndyCar announced that Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, and Santino Ferrucci will all be parked for the first 30 minutes of Friday’s critical practice due to the accident.
“We were several hundred yards ahead of some other cars. It was a pit stop session and it was the first lap. I think maybe some people shouldn’t be in such a rush and the spotters maybe should have done a better job. It’s disappointing that something happened a quarter-mile behind us or thereabouts and we’ve got to pay a price for it,” team owner Bob Rahal said.
Rahal also complained that the “four Team Penske cars had done their own photo shoot on Tuesday, opening day of Indy 500 preparations. But track owner Roger Penske’s cars took the photo during a five-minute period the track was specified on the schedule as open only for non-competitive installation laps.”
“We’re going to miss 30 minutes of practice, you mean for what Roger did the day before, or Roger’s team I should say? We were at the start-finish line when it all happened and from what I understand, the Penske guys were going slower, so they didn’t have a problem with it. I’m disappointed with it and I’ll talk to IndyCar about it,” Rahal explained.
Herta missed an hour of practice from the crash and luckily his vehicle was not damaged severely. “I was angry. I thought it was irresponsible that they were doing something like that going that slow,” Herta said. McLaughlin also took to social media to speak about the accident, telling the Rahal team he “hoped the photo turned out well,” with a video of the accident attached.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.