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Since the posts are already flying about our accident and what to do about it, I think it's appropriate for me to really explain what happened, and what I learned from it. Please keep in mind that this is incredibly embarrassing for me, and I don't really enjoy doing it. But if just one person learns something from this, and it goes on to help him, it will have been worth it. Here goes:

This was a nightmare scenario. Late night, bad weather, dark, slippy roads, high speeds, and bad visibility. The corner was L5+, downhill after a short straight. The entrance to the corner was puddled and rutted, but this was difficult to see at speed, and I marked it a little late. We were in the top of 3rd gear (80-85mph) and decided to just blast through the rough spot, a technique that works surprising well in the lancer. We hit the spot and it was much slicker than we realized (found this afterwards walking the road), and car slid out. I pinned the throttle and began to pull back into the center of the road. At this point we still felt we were going to make it. In fact, Alan read the next note. Then the right rear hooked something and instantly swung the front end into the ditch. With absolutely no time to react we hit the tree at full throttle, top of third gear, between 70 and 80. The impact was pretty much in line the the right driving line, right next to the frame rail. Luckily the tree broke, but it sent us spinning and tumbling down the road. Afterwards Alan and I figured we did a quarter spin, then a roll (or one and a half, can't remember) and then another half spin.

At this point things get a bit fuzzy for a few minutes. I remember the initial hit, pulling arms in, and the car going over. At some point I heard the motor bouncing off the limiter, and lifted of the gas. When we came to a stop, I immediately realized we were upside down (pilot instincts, I just knew). The motor was still running, and said something stupid like "this isn't good" (it's on tape) and shut off the motor. Fearing a possible fire I killed the main power as well. Things got very dark, and very quiet. Still upside down, I tried my door and it wouldn't budge. I called out to Alan and he said his door was stuck too. At this point we both realized we were going to have to bust our way out, and we both dropped out of the harnesses at the same time. This turned out to be a bad idea as we landed on the roof and got tangled with each other. I tried breaking my window with my elbow, but it wouldn't break. I began to panic. Alan and I were squirming around furiously, but getting seemingly nowhere. I started to think that maybe we should have just stayed in the seats, because if we couldn't get out, and the car was hit, that would have been a better place to be. The HANS was restricting my mobility, so I took a second to reach up and pop the latches. This was good as it forced me to regroup. I think I yelled something like "stop moving" or something to that effect, and Alan did so. I was then able to orient, and flip over so that I was sitting up. I began kicking really hard against my door window with both feet, but the dumb thing wouldn't break. Finally the whole door opend slightly, and then a bit more with another kick. I yelled that my door was open, and crawled out. Alan was close behind. I'll have to check the tape when I get it back from Speed, but it felt like this took approximatly a minute.

As soon as I was out, I took off on a full sprint down the road. My only concern was slowing down the next car. AFter about thirty yards I yelled back to Alan to see if he was out of the car. It was so dark I couldn't see him or the car anymore. He yelled that he was out. I yelled, "Are you OK?". He said yes, so I continued running. I got about 150 yards down the road when Alan yelled "car!" Up until this point it had never even crossed my mind that I could be running the wrong way. But a moment later I heard the motor, and then the dull lights, and realized my mistake. I took off back in the other direction, but only got about halfway there when I heard the thud/crunch of a car hitting a tree. Doug had come around the corner at speed and caught the same slop we did. His car kicked out and he had two choices: hit the gas and maybe save it but maybe hit my car, or hit the brakes and hit a tree. He saw Alan standing next to the car, but not me, and assumed I was in the car. Doug chose the tree. When I finally got there, Alan was just heading towards their car. At that point I didn't know who was behind us, and when I saw it was Doug and Scott, I felt sick to my stomach. They both already had their doors open and were unbelting, muttering, and swearing. I left them to Alan and took off in the correct direction.

I think it was Doug who joined me shortly, followed by Scott who had managed to fish out a broken triangle. I think Alan found an OK sign (from Scott maybe?) and was back at the cars. A tree had fallen across the road, and Alan and Doug or Scott moved it. AFter we slowed down the next couple cars I went back and crawled into my car, grabbing the flashlight clipped to the floor pan. I got out our triangles, another light, and we set up.

So, that's what happened. Here's what I learned:

1. Trying to run top 3 stage times on worn out tires that are the wrong compound for the temps doesn't work. Well, it works for a little while, but sooner or later you'll pay the piper.

2. HANS devices work. Despite it being cumbersome when I was flopping about on the roof, the HANS did its thing in the initial crash. This was by far the hardest hit I've ever taken, and I feel absolutely fine right now. Usually I'm pretty sore, but not this time. The HANS is expensive, and I'm not gonna go on some crusade to make them mandatory. But I will HIGHLY reccomend one, and I personally won't get back into a car without one.

3. As a crew, we need to develop an emergancy plan. Alan and I both dropping out at the same time was really bad. From now on, before the rally my codriver and I will go over emergancy procedures, and develop a plan as to who does what and when. This needs to be drilled into our heads so that it becomes automatic. I hate to admit it, but we panicked, and it could have been catostophic. In airplanes we don't have this problem because we are drilled over and over on safety procedures for everything. There is no time for panic when you have a procedure to follow. Rally should, and for me will, be the same way.

4. I stand by my decision to kill the power immediately, but it left things awful dark. I'm considering some kind of battery powered emergancy light, very high intensity, that will run independant of the car. Affix it to the roll bar in a manner that it will not come off, and drill into procedure where it is in the dark and how to activate. Flashlights are good too, but they can be dropped, or too cumbersome to point when trying to pop out from upside down. A fixed light is the best solution. When I find one, I'll post it here.

5. Earlier this year my normal codriver, Kim DeMotte, sent me one of those life hammer things and told me to mount it in the car. For those of you who don't know, a life hammer is a small plastic tool with a covered razor on one end for cutting seat belts, and a little pointed hammer head on the other. At the time I scoffed at it. "Heck, that's weight" I figured, "it'll just fly around and hit someone in an accident. Besides, the windows always break anyways. If not, I'll break em with my hand or elbow." Shah right! I kicked that damn window FOUR TIMES with BOTH FEET, and it never broke. A vision of that stupid life hammer and my codriver actually flashed through my head at one point. Luckily I have the luxury of being able to regret my decision. My next car will have a life hammer conviently secured in easy reach of both drivers.

6. The fact that all four drivers walked away literally without a scratch was no accident. Meticulous car prep and attention to safety saved our lives. Did you cut any corners on your roll cage? Didn't finish that weld, or left a tube out cuz you ran out of material? Did you build to the rule book mins and figure it was "good enough"? We hit that tree so hard that we broke it in three pieces, and then we still had enough energy left over to take out two more. Go look at recent homologated cage in a GrN car or top spec open car. If you don't have most of those bars (x brace across the door, A pillar to main hoop shoulder bars, front strut braces, etc...) YOU DON'T HAVE ENOUGH! I don't care what the rule book says, or what the "experts" say. I don't care if it's a PIA to get in and out of, or if it's "just a production car." Don't give me crap about roll cages being too expensive or too hard to build right. What is your life worth? If you can't afford the proper safety equipment, maybe you need to rethink your decision to start rallying. I don't wanna see people priced out, but I really don't wanna see people getting hurt because of substandard equipment. Look at your safety equipment objectively. Every car at the rally had the ability to hit a tree as hard as we did, but not every car had the ability to survive it like we did. Keep that in mind.

7. It is REALLY easy to become hopelessly disoriented in an accident. My codriver told me this, and I believed him, but I'd never experienced it. Next time I will do one of two things: get the codriver out and send him in the opposite direction, or wait by the car until I hear noise or see lights and then run like mad in that direction.

8. You wanna know what kind of Man is taking on the task of rescuing rally in NA? When Doug came around that corner he had the option of trying to save himself and his car, but maybe hitting a car with someone maybe still inside it. Doug chose the tree, knowing full well it would end his rally, wreck his beautiful car, and possibly injure himself and his buddy Scott. Could you make that decision? Ok, how bout making it in the spit second he had? I learned a lot about Doug Havir this weekend. There isn't anybody I'd rather have running rally than him. He gets it, on all levels.

9. I know the days of open spectating or gone forever, and that we never have enough marshalls, but I would have given anything, and I mean anything, to have someone on that corner. It would have made all the difference in the world. The point is that people on the stages isn't necessarily a bad thing.

So there you go. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Hopefully we all can learn something from this, and we'll all be a little safer next time we venture into the woods.

And to Doug and Scott, I want to once again apologize for ruining your rally and your car. I know it doesn't mean much, but I tried, I really did. I just hope that someday I can make it up to you two.


Dennis Martin
[email protected]
920-432-4845
 

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eating dust taking photos
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Dennis,


Thank you for your comments and insight. A lot of teams don't like talking about offs like yours and its hard to get everything out there and in the open, too many people write things off beause it seems incredibly unlikely, hearing it from a "normal" guy helps inbeds things.


Just a point of caution, when you look at all those extra braces think about the energy absorption. Here in CO we had a rallyist who is stepping away from rally for a while to run in our hill climb series have a high speed off. They didn't hit anything like a tree or boulder and the cage held up real well. This cage had a lot of extra bracing in it and it deffinitely helped protect the team but the sheer shock being transferred into the co-driver because she couldn't brace herself ended up with her being helicoptered to medical facilities.

My point is sit in your car and go through a check list of impacts, likely and not, try to invsion how they will hit the car and how you want them to be absorbed and add to the mins appropriately.


Glad to hear everyone was ok, sounds like a full package for safety certainly made a difference in the cabins.
 

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I am a worker, not a competitor. I also don't get to as many rallies as I wish I could, so my worker experience remains limited to SoPac and CRS. I do, however, learn alot from the posts like this one and the one initiated by "Lurch" Burmeister about getting stuck at an LSPR stage start. With these posts, I get a unique view into why drivers make some of the decisions they do, and why worker training is so imperative. I always want to make the best possible decision I can based on what I've learned and what my job is. I confess that this has not always been the case. (Team Hudson tolerated one of my less good MTC calls at Gorman, one which may have affected their overall time, although probably not their placement. Nonetheless with good humor and like complete gentlemen, they didn't argue my call. Not all workers are so lucky. Had I thought a decision through, I would have seen the ill logic behind it. Thank goodness it wasn't the kind of decision that affected lives.)

Everyone learns when folks have the insight and grace to self-evaluate their performance--competitors, workers, organizers. Hindsight may be 20-20, but I would rather read a try at clear reflection than none at all, or some less desirable alternative. The community benefits from the sharing and taking of personal responsibility, especially by folks whose posts appear often in this forum, and whose perspective has context. This has been the case in previous posts about how an accident happened, and I for one would like to think that each and every time a driver/co-driver takes the time to assess their performance, he or she is extending the comradery of this sport through the value of learning by example--in effect, saving another from a more disasterous result in the name of good will. It makes me proud to be associated with the sport.
I hope someday to meet the various monikers I read, watch them compete, chat with them afterwards. I hope, too, that they continue
to reflect and to share, 'cause I need all the learning they got!

Enough cheese. Carolyn Reed
 

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Thanx for the lessons Dennis.

I wish we all had 2 minutes. Mid pack & back really could use the time just as much as the front people, and are more likely to have less invested in car prep...

We had somthing like this happen on Burma I last year. We were totally lucky that they were a couple marshalls there to flag cars down, and it was daylight...

Glad everyone is OK.

I guess the car's price is now been discounted Dennis?
;)

JC
#595
www.gnimotorsports.com
 

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crashing/rolling

Dennis-

Thanks for sharing.

As Ben says, there are those who HAVE rolled, and those who WILL. I am well into the former group.

It IS very disorienting to roll. One time I did it, ended up down a hill, and didn't even know whether the the road was up or down the hill, much less which way cars were coming from.

This is not something that we rehearse, so we try and learn all we can from each other. The hammer is an excellent idea, and also the seat belt cutter (now, do they need to be in a fairly standard location - so that when I jump in with Dennis, I know were his stuff is?).

Your best advices were:

- stay calm (a LOT easier to say and type, than to do)
- communicate (are you OK?)
- turn everything off

press on,
 

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While I will be the first to agree that you cannot spend "too much" on a quality cage and other safety equipment, I have to disagree with one statement.

The roll over structure should not be extended forward of the firewall of the vehicle without a firm and factual understanding of what that will do to the crash characteristics of the vehicles body. The manufacturers have done alot of computer modeling backed up by crash testing to determine how the car should deform from the firewall forward in an impact. This deformation disipates energy resulting in a less severe impact on the occupants. Any non-compressible structure that interferes with these desgined collapses will create higher loads on the occupants. The WRC guys have done the modeling and understand the effects of these structures. Often things going forward of the firewall in these cars are constructed of a thinner wall, or smaller tube to allow them to deform at significantly lower loads than the main cage.

While a good solid cage is desireable, you don't want to do things that will negatively impact the crash survivability of the vehicle.

I'm glad to hear that all involved were able to walk away safely from what was quite apparently a difficult situation. My hat is off to Doug H. for making the right choice for safety even though it was a large personal sacrifice.

Brad
 

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I also want to thank Dennis and Alan for posting their stories about this incident. I know that when Mom and I rolled our car on Smith Creek a few years back, ending on our roof (lots of you have seen the video), we had never talked about what to do in that sort of situation.

Yes, I panicked. I knew there was a creek somewhere down the hill we were perched on, but I didn't know how far down we went. I wanted out of the car.

Reading about how other people handle these situations helps the rest of us to be better prepared when it happens to us. I know that as I push harder, I'm going to have an off sooner or later, and I'd like to be better prepared for it this time.

I, too, thought that it would be no biggie to break the window, but Dennis is a lot stronger than I am, so now I'm going to go get one of those life hammers (or three or four, a team christmas present) for the car(s).

Thanks again for posting! I knew that Doug was a good guy before this, but now I have mucho more respect for the guy! :)

KT
 

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>
>I, too, thought that it would be no biggie to break the
>window, but Dennis is a lot stronger than I am, so now I'm
>going to go get one of those life hammers (or three or four,
>a team christmas present) for the car(s).

A spring loaded center punch wold also work well for breaking car windows. or so I have been told. THese may be easier to anchor securely in the car since they are the size of a pen or pencil. Of course I have a life hammer mounted on the tunnel of the rally car since before it was log booked.

Matt Smith
www.fireantracing.com
Viva NASA Rallysport
 

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Dennis do not beat yourself up about running the wrong direction , as someone who has flung themselves off motorcycles at speed it is really disorientating when you become the human bowling ball.The darkness only makes it worse.
I will say to anybody who reads this; have a plan for getting out of the car in a hurry. (I've always done this and a few years ago when ye old D-sports racer caught fire with me in it I insticntivly turned off the fuel pump , the ignition switch and popped the fire bottle all while the back tried to pass the front.) Practice with both people in the car and practice both occupants exiting out the others door.
Also you can mount a handy pouch with in reach equippted a flashlight and a window hammer.
On a Final note about speed - I have rounded corners on two and four wheels at 100-150 and think nothing of it but also having been flung off a bike at 85 MPH , 85 is damn fast to be crashing antything.
So be safe out there and lift if you have to - this is a hobby.
Tom
 

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>Please keep in mind that this is incredibly embarrassing for
>me, and I don't really enjoy doing it.

I'm using your post to make a point or two. Please do not assume I am writing about you; I am not! Others have already expressed their appreciation of the candidness of your post.


>This was a nightmare scenario. Late night, bad weather,
>dark, slippy roads, high speeds, and bad visibility. The
>corner was L5+, downhill after a short straight.


Regarding stage and pace notes - There should never be an "L5", "L6", or anything else. There should only be what the driver can see. Over and over people have said to me, "Jens, you haven't driven notes so you don't know what you are talking about." You don't need to try heroin to know it isn't good for you.

Sooner or later (sooner at the current rate) someone is going to crest a blind hill at speed and kill someone crossing the stage. "Oooops, that person wasn't mentioned in the notes". It is just a matter of time.


>....Besides, the windows always break anyways.

>....My next car will have a life hammer conviently
>secured in easy reach of both drivers.

This should be a required safety item, and was discussed at length several years ago, but was down-played by the rules makers.

Furthermore.....

There was an extended discussion regarding Lexan windows. I think they should not be allowed. If they are allowed it should be required that they have some type of break-away mechanism that can be demonstrated at tech (However, even with a break-away mechanism they will not shatter like saftey glass. Think about the possible consequences when the window is wedged in by a tree. If you really want heartburn... think about Lexan windows when your car is submerged in water).

I really think common sense safety has taken a back seat to "feel good" safety regulations.

Flame away... I can take it.
 

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It's way safer with notes. Jens, the problem was that before notes people would still drive in front of their eyes. Now they drive in front of their eyes with a little help. I'll never do a blind rally again.

Second, are you still against fire suits?

ACP
Flirting with the laws of physics.
 

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>It's way safer with notes. Jens, the problem was that before
>notes people would still drive in front of their eyes. Now
>they drive in front of their eyes with a little help. I'll
>never do a blind rally again.


I am entirely familiar with "reading the road".


>Second, are you still against fire suits?

As an attorney would you not consider that a leading and unfair question that has nothing to do with the subject matter? Or perhaps your motivation is more sinister. Perhaps you want to expose me as a nut case, and figure I will take the bait. Don't worry, no one listened to me before about stage speeds being too high, the lack of spectator control, or the several other issues I brought up in the past. Why would they listen to me now?

Never-the-less....

I never was (nor am I now) against fire suits. I am for them being optional. There is no evidence from U.S. rallying that the extra 15 seconds of fire protection is needed or particularly useful.

When the rules are changed to require fire systems, fuel cells, AND to require ALL fuel storage, filling, fittings, lines, pumps, etc. be mounted completely sealed off from the cockpit with no chance of any leakage or puddling of fuel within the cockpit (in other words - exterior to the cockpit/trunk area)... then, and only then, will I think the rules makers are truly serious about team safety rather than the only the appearance of safety for their own legal protection and insurance purchasing. Thus far the only advantage to the suits is to make people look pretty. I bet they soak up raw fuel quite well.
 

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RE: What I learned from kindergarden

Jens,
"I really think common sense safety has taken a back seat to "feel good" safety regulations.

Flame away... I can take it."

ACP,
"Second, are you still against fire suits?"

I got it.

Jens, lighten up - secret double probation isn't up yet.
We've already got JV.

Ha, HA.
rz
 

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Hi DM,

Reads like a classic version of "I learned about flying from that..". We all like to read and learn from these things; it's good fortune that all ended well. I hope Doug and his co are not hurt.

One question: have you figured out what will key you to slow down in the same situation in the future? IMO, that is THE key lesson to learn.

Mark B.
 

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RE: What I learned from kindergarden

Thanks Mr. Zimmer - glad someone appreciated the joke!

And to try to un-hijack the thread - thanks Dennis for describing the accident and what can be learned - we need more of that.

ACP
Flaming with the laws of physics.
 

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>
>>One question: have you figured out what will key you to slow
>>down in the same situation in the future?
>
>Brakes?
>
>ACP
>Flirting with the laws of physics.

AND the gall to actually use them! Hee-hee.....:)

Edit for this deja vu: Didn't we go through this same general sequence about a year ago??? Some things never change.....:7
 

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>And to Doug and Scott, I want to once again apologize for
>ruining your rally and your car. I know it doesn't mean
>much, but I tried, I really did. I just hope that someday I
>can make it up to you two.

Dennis, screw the rally, screw the car. All four of us were wandering around the service area Saturday telling jokes and that's all that matters. Of course if you feel the need to buy me a beer some time I won't turn it down :D, but it's just part of the game as far as I'm concerned. And stop saying so many nice things about me, it makes me uncomfortable!

Cheers,
-Doug
 

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>
>>One question: have you figured out what will key you to slow
>>down in the same situation in the future?
>
>Brakes?


No need to use brakes. The notes said it was an L5.
 

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RE: What I learned from kindergarden

>- glad someone appreciated the joke!

There have been 5 deaths in as many years. It is a miracle there haven't been more spectator deaths.

I don't think there is anything to joke about.
 
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