29/05/2017

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MARK J REBLIAS/GETTY IMAGES

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The Kiwi driver is launched off the back of the No 77 car driver by Jay Howard during the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500

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The head of Motorsport New Zealand was not surprised to see Scott Dixon escape virtually unharmed from a major crash at the Indy 500.

Kiwi star Dixon collided with the back of a slowing rival at about 350kmh during the famous race on Sunday (Monday New Zealand time), sending his car flying through the air before slamming into the inside safety barrier and onto its roof.

The 2008 race-winner and four-time IndyCar champion from south Auckland walked away from the incident, a sore ankle his only injury of note.

While it seemed remarkable to some that was the case, Brian Budd was not one of those left stunned Dixon had been relatively unscathed.

"I'm not surprised he walked away with probably just a few bruises and scratches," the Motorsport NZ chief executive said.

"It was certainly a big crash but those cars are designed to withstand that. The construction of them is such that the whole cockpit where the driver sits is designed to take those sorts of impacts.

"It looks spectacular because lots of panels and other things are breaking off the car but that is what they are designed to do ... that's just modern technology in the race car engineering scene."

Budd, who has followed motorsport his whole life, competed on and off since the 1970s and watches a lot of racing live and on TV, said the crash was right up there with the biggest he had seen.

Accidents, though, are a reality of the sport with the speeds that are reached and the close proximity of other cars.

The difference today was the high level of safety technology across all major series', including New Zealand's premier open-wheel championship, meant the consequences of those incidents were greatly reduced, Budd said.

"It's very rare you see or hear of people being killed in those sorts of cars now.

"Going back to the old days of Formula One, every race meeting in the 60s and 70s someone was getting killed.

"Technology has moved on a lot since then. You still see lots of big crashes but it's very rare somebody gets severely injured or passes away as result of their injuries."

What also left many in amazement following the crash was how calm Dixon appeared when he was interviewed shortly after being cleared from the medical centre at the track.

Dixon described the accident as a "wild ride" and said he was "just bummed for the whole team".

But having closely followed the career of one of the most successful drivers in New Zealand motorsport history, Budd was not one bit taken aback by that either.

"They don't call him the Ice Man for nothing.

"It's also part of the business at that level, there is always a risk and it's always huge when it happens.

"These professional drivers learnt to cope with it, and it's probably not the first time he's been in the wall."

I'm not surprised he walked away with probably just a few bruises and scratches," the Motorsport NZ chief executive said.

"It was certainly a big crash but those cars are designed to withstand that. The construction of them is such that the whole cockpit where the driver sits is designed to take those sorts of impacts.

"It looks spectacular because lots of panels and other things are breaking off the car but that is what they are designed to do ... that's just modern technology in the race car engineering scene."

Budd, who has followed motorsport his whole life, competed on and off since the 1970s and watches a lot of racing live and on TV, said the crash was right up there with the biggest he had seen.

Accidents, though, are a reality of the sport with the speeds that are reached and the close proximity of other cars.

The difference today was the high level of safety technology across all major series', including New Zealand's premier open-wheel championship, meant the consequences of those incidents were greatly reduced, Budd said.

"It's very rare you see or hear of people being killed in those sorts of cars now.

"Going back to the old days of Formula One, every race meeting in the 60s and 70s someone was getting killed.

"Technology has moved on a lot since then. You still see lots of big crashes but it's very rare somebody gets severely injured or passes away as result of their injuries."

What also left many in amazement following the crash was how calm Dixon appeared when he was interviewed shortly after being cleared from the medical centre at the track.

Dixon described the accident as a "wild ride" and said he was "just bummed for the whole team".

But having closely followed the career of one of the most successful drivers in New Zealand motorsport history, Budd was not one bit taken aback by that either.

"They don't call him the Ice Man for nothing.

"It's also part of the business at that level, there is always a risk and it's always huge when it happens.

"These professional drivers learnt to cope with it, and it's probably not the first time he's been in the wall."

http://www.stuff.co.nz