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Death at watkins glen over weekend

27 November 2002
I just read this over at F chat I will re post it here.

mullin said:
I just got back from a weekend at Watkins Glen with the Porsche club.
The weather was beautiful and everything was going great untill the last run of the day on saturday. A signed off green student hit the wall hard at turn 5 going down into "the laces". He either died instantly or very soon after. It was a front impact in a boxter and the airbags deployed but it wasn't enough.
Had he been wearing a hans device the outcome would have been much different. Saftey gear should always be your first purchase when you start tracking your car. I guess if its your time to go it might as well be doing something that you love.
Anyone know what turn 5 is?
He referred to "the laces", but I do not remember that term from NSXPO.

DocJohn? Peter?

Is it the right hander after the bus stop?
No the laces are not the esses, they are on the opposite side of the track. T6 area on this map, where the laces on a boot would be.

Very very sad. injuries alone are VERY rare at HPDE's, and a death is just not acceptable! Even at my home track Road America, where speeds approach 150 mph, we have not had a HPDE major injury or death in the past 10 years. Only minor injuries. This is with at least 2 cars destroyed every event weekend, and 99.99% the drivers have walked away.

Is there some sort of safety flaw to that area of the Glen? Sorta like missing tires where the Carrera GT claimed 2 people out west?
It is difficult to figure out where it happened based upon the description. The laces are between turns 6 and 7 and turn 5 is the outer loop. There is no "safety flaw" on the track but there is a lot of armco that is unforgiving when struck. If he was exiting the "bus stop" incorrectly he could have gone straight into armco at track out in the beginning of turn 5. That would seem to make the most sense unless he was exiting turn 5 where there is more armco at track out on the left and speed in a boxster could be in the low 90's at track out.
Does anyone know any additional info (or where to look) with regards to this accident?
I had a bunch of friends down there this past weekend

John B
Cross-posted by Acura NsX Pilot from "mullin" via the F-Chat forum .....

I guess if its your time to go it might as well be doing something that you love.

..... and this is not towards Pilot, but towards "mullin".

That comment is the most absurd that I have ever heard. :mad: Even if a driver in an HPDE was doing what he or she liked, can you imagine what was going through their mind two seconds before impact?!?!?

Something like, "I sure like driving my car fast, but oh oh, I missed the apex and here comes some Armco. Hmmm, did I pay my life insurance last month? Did I mow the lawn? Is my wife or husband still mad at me? Oh well, doesn't matter because I will soon be dead."

Right, died while doing what he or she loved.....a very shallow comment, indeed.

Think about Greg Moore, Dale Earnhardt, etc.
wow,Cali now this :frown: I have no info,but there is trouble if you go straight after the bus stop and don't make turn 5,but then I have never seen that.If things go badly and you get 5 wrong you hit the armco at exit track left.As others have said though death is a rare event at hpde.Lets waite to get the full acount.There are no track out or pit out issues at this point in the track,as was the case with the cgt in cali.It may make a difference though depending on whether pca was running the long course or the shorter nascar config.If the nascar chute was used then you need to stay right after turn 5 apex.
Man was killed during club visit
The man killed Saturday in a crash at Watkins Glen International racetrack was there with a Porsche club, a track spokeswoman said Sunday.

Eiron Jones, the senior manager of public relations for Watkins Glen International, said Bengt-Erik Wiholm, 61, of Blue Bell, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, was part of the Riesentotor Region of the Porsche Club of America, which rented the track for the day.

Wiholm was killed shortly before 4:30 p.m. Saturday when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into guide rails as he headed into "The Boot" at Turn 6.

He was transported to Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The Schuyler County Sheriff's Department said Sunday the investigation is continuing and provided no additional information about the crash.

Jones said there were multiple cars on the track when the crash occurred, but no other vehicles were involved and Wiholm was alone in his vehicle.

Jones said this was the first club driver death she was aware of at the racetrack. Automobile clubs frequently rent the track, she said.

"The clubs come up quite a bit," Jones said. "From May to late October, we have track activities almost every day, and the majority of those days are clubs."

The Riesentotor Region of the Porsche Club of America has members in nine counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, according its Web site at www.rtr-pca.org.
My condolensce to his family.There is nothing else to say,but I'm sure people will :frown:
ahh. the laces... on the boot.. forgot about that...

yeah that turn was rather sketchy whereas i took it slightly early once...

and never did it again... very hairy and deceptive turn.

Very unfortunate... :frown:

Here are some more details taken from Rennlist:

"I was there & know Erik's instructor very well. This was probably Erik's 5th or 6th event. He was in the lowest run group. He was a slower driver, but aware and not particularly aggressive. He had been solo'd before at prior events.

This was his 6th half-hour session on the track, and he was just solo'd. He was entering the laces of the boot (turn 6) where it was surmised that he dropped 2 wheels off on the outside and spun into the tire wall/guardrail. The details are still quite sketchy as it was the first day for the corner worker, and as of yesterday afternoon, we did not hear from the driver who was immediately behind him. He was wearing a five point harness, and it was estimated that he hit the wall at about 80 mph.

Erik was not in the best of health, and it is still unknown whether it was purely driver error, or some sort of seizure or spasm momentarily distracted him. There are many theories, and we may never know."

A novice, on his first run as a solo that day but with that being his final of 6 half-hour sessions when he is most fatigued, it is not difficult to understand that an incident could occur but no one would ever expect a fatality. You always need to remember to check yourself before going out on a track and make sure that you are mentally and physically equipped to be out there.
A lot of times I skip the last few sessions on day 2 of a weekend event due to fatigue, mentally and physically. It is not worth it. I truely hope the family deals with the loss in a positive way. I know if it was me, my family would know that I could have died a million different ways, but would feel at ease to let me go during the height of my passion. (on the track)

"Right, died while doing what he or she loved.....a very shallow comment, indeed."
I disagree. I would rather end it at 100 MPH into Armco than with a 6 month stay at a hospital tied up in tubes from some other ailment.
But then I was taught by Neil Young that it is better to burn out than fade away. You can disagree with me, I still won't disrespect you.
Dennis - good point. I guess where I was coming from is that dieing in an automobile accident at a high rate of speed is a violent way to leave this earth.

Especially if one can see "their lives passing by in front of their eyes".

I was just of the opinion that the phrase which referenced the driver dieing while doing what he loved is just a very worn-out cliché.