During the 2021 running of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, a multi-car crash less than halfway into the 10-hour race wiped out some of the race’s most promising competitors and spurred a lengthy cleanup. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt — but it did give us a frankly terrifying look at what it’s like to go careening into a stationary car at over 100 mph.
If you didn’t watch the race, let me give you a quick rundown of the accident, because it was a confusing one. The field was getting ready to restart after a different yellow when the GT classes got tangled, but no one is totally clear just how. There are theories that certain cars missed a shift or didn’t accelerate when the green flag flew, but the main takeaway from the whole situation was that Jordan Taylor behind the wheel of the No. 3 Corvette was fully on the throttle when he crashed into one of the stopped cars.
The race broadcast didn’t catch the crash live, but one fan did:
Jordan Taylor easily took the brunt of the accident when he collided full force with the pile-up in front of him. You can watch an onboard video he posted below:
You can also watch a replay from the broadcast below. It starts at 8:46.
From Taylor’s perspective, you can see how quickly the stopped cars appear. Taylor was able to start slowing down, but he couldn’t do so quickly enough to prevent a crash.
Just before making contact, you can see him taking his hands off the wheel; in a high-speed accident like this one, the steering wheel will be wrenched in all sorts of directions, so removing your hands before impact will prevent broken wrists.
After walking away from the wreck, Taylor had some strong words during an NBCSN interview:
To be honest, the racing out there was a nightmare. Some of it was just unbelievable how slow and clueless some guys were. The quality of the field today wasn’t great. I think we need to do some better work of how we allow some drivers to get in these high-profile races.
I don’t know what happened on the restart, I came over the hill flat in fifth gear, because everyone was flat-out, and then as soon as I came over the crest, the Porsche I was battling with went left, and as it opened up I saw three cars that were basically stopped in front of me.
It’s unfortunate. Hopefully we can work on that and clean it up in the future.
There were nearly 40 rookie drivers in the field for 2021's Petit Le Mans event, which served as the IMSA series’ season finale and championship-deciding event for three of its five classes.