USF2000 Driver Starts St. Petersburg Race With A Barrel Roll

Illustration for article titled USF2000 Driver Starts St. Petersburg Race With A Barrel Roll
Image: USF2000

Crashing is just part of racing, especially where young and ambitious racers are concerned. USF2000 racers are generally younger and less patient at the wheel, which makes for some interesting racing, and also some serious potential for disaster. This young racer, Alex Baron, found out the hard way during Saturday’s race that wheel-to-wheel contact in an open wheel car can really send you for a loop.

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Illustration for article titled USF2000 Driver Starts St. Petersburg Race With A Barrel Roll
Image: USF2000

I’ve never seen anything quite like this in all my years watching and participating in motorsport. The best view of the incident is from the onboard camera of a competitor starting the race from the third row, shown below. When Baron comes onto the screen, he’s clearly shot way too long into the braking zone like this is a game of Forza. There is a gap there, and he almost has time to get it whoa’d up before turn one arrives, but the gap disappears and the car gets sandwiched between two other competitors.

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What happens next looks like a video game glitch error or something. Baron’s car is sent kicking up into the air like it hit a Mario Kart jump, and proceeds to barrel roll like Peppy Hare told him to “do a barrel roll” in Star Fox 64. From the moment his wheels contacted two other cars at exactly the same time, Alex was no more than a hapless passenger. There was nothing he could do from that point forward to fix it.

Luckily everyone involved escaped without injury, which is a testament to the strength modern formula car chassis have built into them. After doing a complete 360 degree flip, Baron ended up back on his wheels and skidded headlong into the barriers at the end of the runoff zone at turn 1. This crash could have been much worse, and likely taught Baron a valuable lesson.

Here you can see the crash from the broadcast view of it. It doesn’t look quite as impressive in this view as it does from the middle of the scrum, but it’s still pretty obvious that something big has occurred.

This series of images turned into a gif really shows the gravity of the crash.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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DISCUSSION

macintux
Just Jeepin'

Am I wrong in thinking he was dangerously reckless to even try to shoot that gap? Being aggressive is one thing, but this isn’t the Millennium Falcon on its side squeezing through a static canyon.

He was relying on multiple other cars to stay exactly where they were, relative to each other, as they entered a friggin’ turn! And even in the best case that gap was only marginally wide enough to use.