Image shared by Ryan Hunter-Reay of his first-lap crash

Aeroscreen “likely saved my life” in first-lap crash – Hunter-Reay

IndyCar

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Ryan Hunter-Reay believes IndyCar’s Aeroscreen saved him from serious injury in the huge crash which occured at the start of yesterday’s race at Barber Motorsport Park.

The Andretti driver struck the Penske car of Josef Newgarden when his rival spun in front of him at the start of the race. Footage from Hunter-Reay’s onboard camera showed his screen was struck by Newgarden’s front-right wheel.

“That was a race weekend to forget,” said Hunter-Reay on social media. “We struggled [with] drivetrain – straight line speed – issues through practice and qualifying.

“Then our race ended before it really started, taken out in [the] first-lap pile-up. Extremely grateful for the IndyCar Aeroscreen. Likely saved my life.”

The Aeroscreen, which was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, was introduced to IndyCar last year. The polycarbonate screen is designed to provide added protection to drivers. It is based on a design which was trialled in Formula 1 five years ago, before the Halo was introduced.

The first-lap crash ended Hunter-Reay and Newgarden’s races on the spot. Several other drivers suffered badly damaged cars and were only able to resume after extensive repairs.

Alex Palou, Ganassi, IndyCar, Barber Motorsport Park, 2021
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Hunter-Reay described how the crash unfolded at the exit of turn four: “I was able to make a pass on VeeKay and I came up to the top of the hill,” he said. “I saw somebody dropped a wheel all of a sudden as I was coming up to Pagenaud, Newgarden came across the track.

“I spoke with him, he said he just lost it in dirty air. It’s unfortunate.”

Newgarden apologised to his rivals for causing the crash. “I got loose coming over the hill,” he explained.

“It was a good start. We were lining in pretty nicely, but I just got loose in the wake. I thought I had the car and then touched the grass and I think once I touched the grass it pitched me sideways.

“I feel really bad for anyone that got involved in that. Obviously, my mess created a bigger mess. Any of the cars that got involved, I’m real sorry because it was obviously us that tipped it off.”

Top image: Hunter-Reay via Twitter

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  • 6 comments on “Aeroscreen “likely saved my life” in first-lap crash – Hunter-Reay”

    1. It was the Halo frame that saved him wasn’t it, not the aero screen add-on. Of course they probably all just call it Aeroscreen, but the polycarbonate part wasn’t in play.

      1. As you note the whole package, frame plus polycarbonate, is considered the Aeroscreen. In this instance with the wheel strike the frame alone would have sufficed, but from what I’ve read the polycarbonate is there for those cases to prevent smaller debris from striking the driver. A good example wouldbe Massa’s life-threatening accident in 2009. This is especially true on Indycar’s high speed ovals, where debris can rebound from the outside wall in a crash.

        1. Ah I thought so, & @exediron, and yes that heave spring is the kind of thing the actual screen is there for isn’t it. Tho the odds of things completely missing the centre struct are actually quite small, and then the helmet is becoming rounded, to either side if you see what I mean, so starting to deflect items off to the side. I’m a huge fan of Halo because it’s so clever, in this way. And F1 visors are reinforced now as well. So the extra safety from the screen is fairly marginal I’d say, but pretty expensive in terms of its effect on the openness of the formula.

      2. Beaten to the punch by James, but they do indeed refer to the whole thing as the Aeroscreen without differentiating its components.

        As a point of trivia, this isn’t the first time Hunter-Reay has avoided a serious potential injury due to the Aeroscreen. There was an oval race last year where a car spun in front of him and became airborne and he passed under it, sustaining a heavy hit to the halo portion of the Aeroscreen.

      3. It’s unfair to uncredit the use of the screen and just credit the halo only. Both worked together hand in hand. Both are incredibly strong, and I’m pretty sure the angle and curvature of the screen would have assisted in repealing the back tyre off it much quicker.

        1. @iandavidfrench I think the fact is a halo would have sufficed for Hunter-Reay as a tire cannot contact a driver with a halo either. A tire doesn’t need an aeroscreen to keep it away from the driver. Indycar has gone with an aeroscreen for smaller debris, particularly as is pointed out above because of cars in close quarters on ovals where small debris, especially in the milliseconds after a crash, can be contained within the confines of the track moreso than on a road course. F1 has gone with the halo imho because there is way too much aero disadvantage to the massive aeroscreen on their far more aero sensitive cars, amongst several other reasons. And Indycars don’t have an airbox above and behind the drivers heads that an aeroscreen would deflect air away from and cause a major rethink for F1 cars that need clean air going into that opening.

          Hunter-Reay has no choice but to call the device an aeroscreen for that is what it is, but I doubt he is implying only an aeroscreen saved him but a halo without the screen would not have.

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