A woman in Japan died Sunday of injuries sustained from being hit in the head by a loose wheel while spotting at a D1 Street Legal drifting event. Her death is the first known fatality in major-series drifting, or at least the first one most fans can remember in some time.
The series reports that around 9 a.m. on Nov. 20 at Nikko Circuit, one of the wheels on Yuuki Takamiya’s Team Magician car came loose on the straight ahead of the spotter area, striking spotter Sachiko Suzuki. (D1 Street Legal, often abbreviated as D1SL, is D1 Grand Prix’s more budget-oriented pro-am drifting class for road-driven cars.) Takamiya was making his second practice run of the morning at the time.
The car had passed technical inspection that morning, however, a fatigued bolt sheared off, causing the brake and hub assembly to separate from the car, according to Noriyaro, who chimed in on a Formula Derp Instagram post to clarify what happened.
The wheel then went over a tire barrier and concrete wall and struck Suzuki in the back of the head, who was standing with about 10 other spotters in the spotter area outside the track’s first corner. After being hospitalized, she died Sunday.
Spotters at drift events keep drivers informed of judges’ decisions and other vital information they should know on track. The section they were standing in was next to the judges’ area. Several others in addition to Suzuki reported minor injuries from the loose wheel, the Huffington Post reports.
While this was a freak failure, many believe it may cause the sport of drifting to toughen its safety regulations and procedures so that nothing like this happens again. D1SL’s statement immediately after the incident reads, as translated by Google:
Although our company has operated the event with safety as a top priority, we are very sorry about the accident that occurred this time. Regarding future response, we will do it immediately as soon as we know the details of the accident. I pray for the earliest recovery of those who are injured more than anything else.
It is unclear what kinds of changes the series may make in response. Fatalities are all but nonexistent in the higher series in drifting like D1SL.
[H/T Formula Derp]