Millions of viewers have seen video of a horrific crash during the August 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs. Still, two years later, a showing of the clip at last week’s WardsAuto Interiors Conference leaves attendees slack-jawed.
Dramatic footage of high-speed crashes has become common with the proliferation of camera phones and Internet video sites. But what makes the Pikes Peak accident so amazing is the extent of injuries to driver Jeremy Foley and navigator Yuri Kouznetsov: They walk away after barrel-rolling hundreds of feet down a steep, rocky embankment in their high-powered Mitsubishi Evo.
The video clip came courtesy of Markus Kussmaul, a vice president with German seat maker Recaro, which manufactured the protective shells that helped save Foley and Kouznetsov from violent deaths. Kussmaul spoke at a panel session dedicated to performance-car interiors.
The video shows the car understeering on a hairpin turn (shockingly without guardrails) and hurtling sidewise down the mountainside, spinning off doors, wheels, bumper fascia, mirrors, other body panels and bits of shrapnel before smoldering to rest.
“I thought we were both going to die here,” Foley says during an interview after the crash, with the salvaged vehicle as a backdrop.
In the video, racing team owner Kevin Dubois pays tribute to Recaro for its role in saving the lives of Foley and Kouznetsov.
“In our particular crash, the seats stayed in place. They didn’t break anywhere – they held strong,” Dubois says.
“Both the driver and passenger stayed in the seats. For someone building a car for any type of racing, it’s very, very important to not skimp out on safety equipment,” he says. “Make sure you buy the right equipment, stuff that’s certified to race.”