From e36m3_at_bmw-m.net Sat Dec 8 08:48:21 2001
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2001 10:39:01 -0600
From: E36M3 <e36m3_at_bmw-m.net>
To: E36M3 <e36m3_at_bmw-m.net>
Subject: [E36M3] E36M3 #1835
When Earnhardt died, his death made no sense to me.
Specifically, when you watch the crash, you see that after his car turns but before it hits the wall, it's still travelling in the "right" direction at only very slightly reduced speed. The cars around it and the cars ahead of it are only marginally faster than it. Even after it hits, it's still going down the track at a very good clip. This means that from a conservation-of-energy standpoint (since his car was not pushed into the wall by another car, but simply turned and hit it), not much of the car's total kinetic energy was dissipated in the initial impact with the wall. IOW, he didn't hit the wall very hard or very fast, despite the media reports that he hit "head-on at full speed" or whatever they reported.
To me, it looked like a very minor hit (I couldn't see the damage to the front of the car), and I was really stunned to learn that he had been killed. I thought "What? In that minor hit? He was going maybe 30mph into that wall." I mentioned this to Jeff Lin and a few others ...
Sure enough, in the Dec. 10 Autoweek, "... Earnhardt had a direct impact speed of 43mph."
Yet another reason to buy a HANS if you don't have one yet and your car has a roll bar or cage and 4-, 5- or 6-point belts. And the current ones are a lot smaller and niftier than my first-generation one.
Have a safe weekend.