Fatal Crashes in Land Speed Racing


2016 report

We had three(3) notable crashes in 2016,

which yielded one highly disappointing

(and to a large degree unexplained)

death of one of motorcycle LSR’s most

revered and experienced racers.

* * * *

The beautiful, talented and entertaining

“Tu Tu Sue” Brenda Sue Carver, found herself

running fast on a preliminary run at Loring.

Brenda is one of the fastest woman riders

in the world, and is especially experienced

and proficient on pavement.

For poorly-understood reasons, Brenda Sue found

herself drifting her Hayabusa to the side of the track,

and crashing at possibly as fast as 225 mph.

The crash essentially ended the meeting,

Brenda was transported to hospital, and the

injuries resulted in the loss of much of her right leg.

No reliable opinions about the cause of
Carver's accident have been put forward.

* * * *

Guy Caputo, many-times Maxton record holder

and Wilmington Motorcycle Safety Inspector crashed

his Hayabusa at the Ohio track at about 250mph,

as estimated by on-board data.

Informed opinions about the cause(s) are scant,

but Guy and others at the track place most

of the blame on side winds. Fairing design

may have played a part.

Guy was properly dressed, but still suffered

extensive damage to his upper spine which

required fixation, and a still-continuing course

of treatment, almost a year later.

Almost all of spinal problems came to his neck area,

and he was not wearing neck protection (See post #54).

* * * *

The most troubling crash, and the most disappointing,

was to Sam Wheeler at an early-season race at Bonneville.

Sam’s injuries were eventual fatal in Hospital

after a medivac protocol.

Sam was riding in his world-famous (

and world record-setting) streamliner,

which had been previously timed at over 355mph,

about 10 years ago.

Sam was fully outfitted in protective gear,

including neck protection. The bike, a result

of 50 years of design and riding experience,

had huge crash protection built in, including

extensive head and neck protection.

At about 2 miles into a practice run, Sam’s ‘liner

lost control and crashed, resulting in

Sam’s eventually-fatal injuries.

The fatal injuries were to the head.

Sam’s “crash speed” of less than 200 mph

left observers stunned, since Sam had previously

crashed the same bike at over 350mph, and walked away.

Qualified safety experts were hugely surprised that

such a relatively slow crash in a streamliner could prove fatal.

At least one expert voiced concern that at the time of the crash,

Sam had not driven the ‘liner in almost 10 years,

and had gained enough weight that he did not properly

fit into the “roll structure” of the bike.

Experts and observers both were puzzled by how

one of the safest motorcycles could allow fatal injuries

to a rider properly dressed and strapped in.

Also unexplained was how a rider with 50 years of Bonneville

riding experience could crash at “half-speed”

on an essentially windless day, with no known mechanical defects.

* * * *

There is a lot we don’t know,

and I suspect there is far more that

we don’t know that we don’t know……………

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