As authorities in Orlando, Florida continue to investigate the track experience crash
that killed an instructor riding passenger in a Lamborghini, they confirmed tonight that the car was driving in the opposite direction of how the track was designed to be run.
Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol told Jalopnik that the driver, 24-year-old TaVon Watson, was running clockwise around the Walt Disney World Speedway Sunday afternoon. Watson lost control of the Lamborghini Gallardo, causing the passenger’s side of the car to strike a guardrail, killing 36-year-old track instructor Gary Terry.
Montes said that there were several GoPro-style cameras mounted in an on the Lamborghini, and the video from those reveal that when Watson lost control of the car, Terry reached over to the steering wheel to try and help it recover, but it was too late and the car spun three times. That video has not been released by investigators.
Why is the direction of the car so important? As several people pointed out, including our own readers and the Axis of Oversteer blog, the track’s barriers are designed to protect cars moving in one direction — if struck from a different side, they could become deadly spears, which is what appears to have happened here.
Racing driver and coach Jon Miller explains more in a thoughtful OppositeLock piece I highly encourage you to read:
This is what makes me so angry: They were driving the track in the opposite direction (clockwise) that it was designed to be driven. The car hit a guardrail that was placed to protect workers on an access road. A safety barrier designed to deflect a spinning race car coming in a counter-clockwise direction became a weapon when hit from the other direction. This is “racing 101”: Don’t ever drive counter-course because the racetrack wasn’t designed to work that way. Some racetracks *are* designed to work that way, however this one was not.
Terry has been described in the Orlando Sentinel as a devoted father and a highly experienced driver and racing instructor. Why on Earth they were running clockwise — and why management at the Richard Petty-owned Exotic Car Driving Experience gave this the OK — is something that will have to come out during the course of the investigation.
Montes said that Florida traffic law doesn’t apply on closed courses, and so no charges are pending against Watson, the driver. The wreck happened as part of his 24th birthday celebrations.
It’s an incredibly sad case all around, and one that may well have been completely preventable.
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