We like to think that attentiveness and good car control are what keep us safe on the roads. Sometimes, though, skill ain't got nothing to do with it. Here are the ten most sphincter-clenching examples of blind luck keeping death at bay, as chosen by Jalopnik readers.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
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10.) Bobby Regester Pikes Peak
Suggested By: $kaycog
Why it's unreal: Needless to say, Bobby Regester has retired from hillclimb racing. He was tumbling off one of Pikes Peak's infamous cliffs, when a rock stopped his car part of the way down. Uninjured, Bobby could climb out of his own car through no fault of his own, but the good luck of hitting that rock.
9.) Mark Higgins and the world's calmest passenger
Suggested By: Gamecat235
Why it's unreal: We don't know if the guy from Road & Track who was riding shotgun at the Isle of Man has balls of depleted uranium, or if he just had no idea what was going on, but he stayed absolutely calm through one of the gnarliest rally slides I've ever seen. I also don't really know how Mark Higgins pulled together a loss of traction like that in sixth gear on a narrow road in a town, and honestly, he doesn't either.
8.) Old man and a rally car
Suggested By: irishman72
Why it's unreal: It's not that rare to see rally spectators standing too close to the side of the road, only to dodge an incoming car, ninja style. Well, this spectator wasn't going to be leaping anywhere, and as the rally car piles in straight for him, there isn't much he can do but watch it slide within inches of him. The look on his face when he, unsurprisingly, gets the hell out of dodge is priceless.
7.) Plywood through the windshield
Suggested By: Brian, The Life of
Why it's unreal: Much as most race car drivers go through a race not really thinking about what would happen if, say, a wheel just fell off at the back of a 200mph straightaway, we all drive on the highway pretty much putting thoughts of 2 X 4s flying through our windshields out of our minds. Not that it would do you much good either way you deal with it – either you get your face crushed or, as we see here, you just don't.
6.) Hockenheim proves two wheels bad
Suggested By: t_s
Why it's unreal: There are a couple motorcycle vids of insanely close calls. this one comes to mind. No matter how close that car comes, little gives us the need to change our drawers quite like seeing a flying motorcycle whip past this rider's head in the blink of an eye.
5.) Saved by the tree
Suggested By: gregfromtheinternet
Why it's unreal: Rallying definitely makes this job easy. Put a bunch of people next to a road with cars flying by at the limit of adhesion, and you're bound to get some close calls. But damn! There is literally nothing keeping that man on the sidelines alive other than a strategically-placed tree. Literally nothing.
4.) Cayenne proves it can handle
Suggested By: vic06
Why it's unreal: We like being harsh on Porsche's Cayenne, but when a car pushes a big rig trucker across the highway median and into the path of an oncoming Cayenne, the SUV quickly proves its Porsche breeding, pulling just out of the way, even as the cargo soars overhead. As vic06 points out, "The driver of the white Cayenne was not on the phone." Stay alert on the way to work, folks!
3.) Decapitation waits for another day
Suggested By: gomerkyle9
Why it's unreal: Skip to 3:10 on this video and get a look at what may be the closest call in motorcycle racing history. Crashing into a wall and surviving is one thing, but falling so that the next crashing bike skims past your head with inches to spare makes it look like rider Christian Kellner has an angel on his shoulder.
2.) Rally photographer kisses death
Suggested By: leicester
Why it's unreal: It's not just that a rally car screams past this photographer, exploding off of a wall and leaving him unscathed, it's that the guy doesn't even seem fazed. At least Christain Kellner in the last video was probably unconscious, and the Road & Track guy in the second video probably just had no idea what he'd just lived through. This photographer was right there and he just darts off to grab a picture like it wasn't no thing.
1.) Mel Kenyon cheats death at the 1971 Indy 500
Suggested By: jimspeedbump
Why it's unreal: I like how rookie Gordon Johncock is so goddamn freaked out by what just happened he literally runs in fear from his car. I mean, the threat of an explosion probably didn't hurt, but I imagine that the general freak-out played a big role. Reader jimspeedbump writes, "rumor has it the safety workers retired on the spot."
At the end of this video we can hear Mel Kenyon describing not how Gordon Johncock barely misses him, but rather that he literally left tire marks on his helmet. It doesn't get any closer than that.