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A crash at the Indy 500 sent a tire careening past the fan-packed grandstand

The car driven by Kyle Kirkwood, top, flips over after a crash in the second turn during the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
John Maxwell
/
AP
The car driven by Kyle Kirkwood, top, flips over after a crash in the second turn during the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

A multi-car crash sent a tire careening past fans during the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, producing a heart-stopping moment at one of the U.S.'s most prominent races.

Video posted on social media shows driver Felix Rosenqvist colliding with Kyle Kirkwood. During the crash, one of Kirkwood's tires breaks free and launches into the air and over the fence that separates the track from the grandstand.

The tire just misses seats filled with spectators and landed on a parked car, ESPN reported. There were no injuries to either driver or fans.

After the tire went flying, Kirkwood's car hit the wall, flipped over and slid down the track as sparks flew.

"All good everyone, just disappointed. Thought we could win today," he said in a tweet.

Auto racing is an extremely popular sport in the U.S., but it doesn't come without its risks to drivers, crew members and fans.

At the Indy 500 in 1987, a fan named Lyle Kurtenbach was killed after a tire from one of the cars broke off during a crash, flew into the stands and hit him, according to the Indianapolis Star. Kurtenbach, who was 41, had been celebrating a family reunion.

The track's catch fence was later raised from 15 feet to 19 feet, eight inches, the newspaper reported.

In the years since, auto racing fans have been injured and on rare occasions killed when debris from crashes lands in spectator areas.

In the early 1970s, the U.S. Auto Club, which was then the sanctioning body for the Indy 500, made a raft of changes to improve driver safety after a string of deaths on the track, such as reducing the size of a car's gas tank.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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[Copyright 2024 NPR]