When the Indy Racing League bought out the assets of the former Champ Car World Series before the 2008 season, the league gained nine new teams, a handful of races, and the rights to the entire history of championship car open-wheel racing in the United States. More importantly, they gained the rights to Champ Car's Holmatro Safety Team, a staple at every event and one of its most important assets as a racing series.
Since 2008, the Holmatro Safety Team has been a cherished part of the IZOD IndyCar Series, gaining a reputation for a generally stellar job at cleaning up crash sites and attending to drivers. However, when Simona de Silvestro crashed into the outside wall in the June 6 Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway, the team took nearly a full minute to get her out of the burning car. This unacceptable response, though a rare and outstanding incident in years of service, led to a league-mandated inquiry into what went wrong.
Today's findings, released by the league and track safety coordinator Mike Yates, cited two key errors that led de Silvestro to languish in the car for so long. The first was a procedural error in the packing of the fire hose, leading to its malfunction. The second was a failure to take pressurized water canisters and Cold Fire to the car before utilizing the hose.
The failure of the safety crew to follow this protocol, as well as the malfunction of the hose, meant that de Silvestro was trapped alive in her burning vehicle. Eventually, Safety Team members had to physically rip her from the vehicle, not an easy task given the HANS device and other implements designed to keep a driver safe in the event of a major accident.
Luckily for the Swiss Rookie of the Year candidate, she only suffered a burned hand and was cleared to drive again the following day. Her helmet was also charred in the incident. This report by Indianapolis' WISH-TV showcases the remains of her helmet. (Thanks to 16th and Georgetown for the link.)
After the review, the Holmatro Safety Team will address all protocol in preparation for this weekend's Iowa Corn Indy 250. The way in which the fire hose is mounted will also be altered from this point forward. The Indy Racing League, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Holmatro Safety Team expect nothing less than another stellar weekend in Iowa, with the Safety Team handling any and all incidents with the same level of skill and professionalism as they have in almost every situation in the past.