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Lauda crash - ambulance against race direction


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#1 Ristin

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 07:34

Hello,
accidentely I watched "Ich war dabei" (I have been there) on german TV last night. They talked about Lauda's crash at the Nürburgring 1976. Someone who obviously was a member of the ambulance stuff that took Lauda to Adenau hospital said that they decided to head for Breitscheid exit against the race direction. We all know that you never, ever do that, but given the geographical situationit it seems like a very tempting idea as it would save you some 20 to 30 minutes on your way to hospital.

This guy said that at the very last corner (that would have been Ex-Mühle and by the way the only corner) they actually encountered an approaching race car whose driver had not been aware that the race was stopped.

What do we know about this incident? Who was it? Why hadn't he been redflagged?

Ristin

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#2 arttidesco

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 08:59

Not something I recall seeing from my vantage point at Wehrseifen but a look at the lap chart might give an indication of who was last on the scene of the accident.

#3 scheivlak

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 09:56

Not something I recall seeing from my vantage point at Wehrseifen but a look at the lap chart might give an indication of who was last on the scene of the accident.

It might have been Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi, who was last after lap 1 in his private Tyrrell.

#4 Tim Murray

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:17

All those behind the accident would have come to a halt at the scene within a fairly short time. I think it more likely that it was one of those in front of the accident who completed two laps and set off on their third lap. These were (in the order given in the Autosport lap chart) Mass, Nilsson, Hunt, Scheckter, Andretti, Regazzoni, Peterson, Jones, Depailler, Pryce, Brambilla and Stommelen.

Edited by Tim Murray, 06 August 2012 - 10:19.


#5 Ristin

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 12:56

Sorry, I should have mentioned that in the first post: the ambulance man said it was a driver who had had some problem, stopped trackside and later rejoined the race (presumably after the problem had been cured) without being aware that it had been stopped.
I find it hard to imagine that he would not have been regflagged by the marshals. Surely there was a regflag situation, wasn't it?
But, thinking about it: perhaps he was redflagged and just cruising back to the pits. Far from "full song" when encountering the ambulance.

Ristin

#6 D-Type

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 19:17

The regulations at the time allowed a red flag to be shown only at the start/finish line. Around the circuit, marshalls could use stationary yellows, waved yellows or in extreme cases double yellows.

In respect of yellow flags, the 1975 Yellow Book says:

Yellow flag: Signal of danger.
The cause of the signal may be local, temporary or permanent.
The yellow flag signals a situation of danger, whatever itsnature.
Thus, the presentation of the yellow flag may mean the more or less complete obstruction of the road, a fire near or on the road or even untimely crowd rushes.
The previous marshall's post will show a stationary yellow flag. The no-passing zone will be delimited by this flag. The post following the accident will also show a stationary yellow flag, this to oblige cars to maintain their position and to prevent them from already accelerating in the danger area. The end of the controlled zone will be marked by a green flag, at the following post.
~
In all sections where a single yellow flag, motionless or waved, is displayed drivers must slow down and overtaking is forbidden. In case of two waved yellow flags are displayed simultaneously, drivers must be prepared to stop and overtaking, naturally, remains forbidden.


This is the opposite of the American "Full course yellow" approach as the yellow flags defined the controlled zone and around the rest of the track normal racing conditions prevailed. So, if the ambulance was outside the yellow flag controlled zone, the driver in question would not have known there was anything untoward.

A scary situation and dangerous decision to take..

Edited by D-Type, 06 August 2012 - 19:18.


#7 Doug Nye

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 22:32

I find the notion that a competing car was confronted by an ambulance approaching head-on barely credible. It took quite a while for the fire to be fought and Lauda extricated from the wreck. As I recall it, cars obstructed by the crash site subsequently completed that lap and returned to their pits. I asked Peter Warr there if any debris had been found beneath his Lotuses. He immediately turned and bawled to the Lotus mechanics "Check underneath the cars for debris". By the time Lauda had been stabilised and loaded into the ambulance, it had turned and set off towards the krankenhaus, I cannot believe any cars would have still been approaching the accident site. I believe the story is fanciful - understandable fabrication by the person who told it, or embellishment by the journalist who reported it...

DCN

#8 Michael Ferner

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 16:53

Exactly my sentiments. It took nearly a minute to get Lauda out of the car, and he was given first aid at the trackside for several minutes afterwards. I can't imagine anyone out there was still thinking he was in a race, unless he had stopped somewhere out in the woods to relieve himself (or, rather, some "big" business) and then returned to the track...

#9 CSquared

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 18:25

I find the notion that a competing car was confronted by an ambulance approaching head-on barely credible. It took quite a while for the fire to be fought and Lauda extricated from the wreck. As I recall it, cars obstructed by the crash site subsequently completed that lap and returned to their pits. I asked Peter Warr there if any debris had been found beneath his Lotuses. He immediately turned and bawled to the Lotus mechanics "Check underneath the cars for debris". By the time Lauda had been stabilised and loaded into the ambulance, it had turned and set off towards the krankenhaus, I cannot believe any cars would have still been approaching the accident site. I believe the story is fanciful - understandable fabrication by the person who told it, or embellishment by the journalist who reported it...

DCN

The explanation from post #5 seems plausible to me.

Edited by CSquared, 08 August 2012 - 20:34.


#10 275 GTB-4

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 08:52

the ambulance stuff that took Lauda to Adenau hospital said that they decided to head for Breitscheid exit against the race direction. We all know that you never, ever do that, but given the geographical situationit it seems like a very tempting idea as it would save you some 20 to 30 minutes on your way to hospital.
Ristin


Au contraire Ristin...all manner of vehicles (including Ambulances) can be despatched by the shortest possible route (regardless of race direction) once a Red Flag has been used...in this situation, I can't see why a similar decision might not have been made.

#11 Ristin

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 13:04

Au contraire Ristin...all manner of vehicles (including Ambulances) can be despatched by the shortest possible route (regardless of race direction) once a Red Flag has been used...in this situation, I can't see why a similar decision might not have been made.


I am not sure about that.
See for example Ralf Schumachers's crash at Indianapolis. It took ages for the medical car to reach the unconscious driver - would have been much quicker if it had just used pit entrance the "wrong way". But it didn't.

Immediately after the flag has been thrown there are still cars ciculating. It would not be a good idea to let all kind of vehicles rush in all kind of directions. And how would a driver of an ermergency vehicle know, at which point in time ALL competitors have actually stopped. The situation is even worse when -as D-Type pointed out - the red flag is only used at the start/finish line. And, of course, if your track is some 20+ kilometres long.

Ristin

#12 funformula

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 20:26

It was actually H.J. Stuck who told the ambulance to drive against race direction rather than the much longer way in race direction to the next possible exit.
He told this several times since, when asked about his recollection of the Lauda accident. He said that this was his small part in Laudas rescue.

#13 Alfie

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 10:00

I am sure that my memory of instructions, rules and regulations when marshalling at Silverstone in the early '70s were not typical of all countries.

Phil Morom always made it very clear; you do what you think to be correct at the time. If it involves going on to the track, going the wrong way etc, expect a bollocking.

But, be assured that, if you do not act appropriately , you will get an even bigger bollocking.

Of course, there were strictures attached, drive on the grass if possible - not always so for an ambulance c/w casualty - and always be alert. Marshalling and circuit safety at that time were light years away from where we are today.

We can only be thankful that as a result of this accident, and of course, a number of other similar such accidents, the approach to safety improved considerably over the years.