The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is held in the shadow of General Motors’ headquarters, the Renaissance Center.
It’s the definition of a home race for the American automaker, so naturally, they supplied the pace car for the weekend’s racing festivities – a brand new 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
The man in charge of driving the pace car was high-ranking GM executive Mark Reuss. He’s quite familiar with a racetrack, boasting driving certification on the North Course of the Nurburgring and FIA C and IMSA Road Racing licenses. He seemed like the perfect man for the job, then, but his pace car duties ended in disaster Sunday.
Reuss was leading the IndyCar field to green for Race 2 of the Dual in Detroit when he lost the rear of the ZR1 and crashed head first into a wall. The significant impact destroyed the front end of the ZR1 and even set the vehicle’s airbags off, but thankfully Reuss and his co-driver were unhurt.
It appears as though Reuss just got on the power a bit too early as the ZR1 went over a small crest in the bumpy Belle Isle GP track, causing the rear to get light. That’s probably a rather easy mistake to make in the ridiculously powerful ZR1, though, which makes an absurd 755 hp from its 6.2-liter supercharged V8.
Oddly, GM tried to blame the mistake on the weather and track conditions – both of which were ideal for racing or track driving.
“It is unfortunate that this incident happened,” GM said in a statement. “Many factors contributed, including weather and track conditions. The car’s safety systems performed as expected.”
Reuss recognized the driver error in a gentlemanly statement released after the crash.
“I want to thank you all for your well wishes today,” he said. “I am ok. I have driven this course many many, many times. I have paced this race in the wet, cold, hot, and calm. On Z06’s, Grand Sports, and other things. It is never a casual thing for me, but an honor to be asked. Today I let down my friends, my family, Indycar, our city and my company. Sorry does not describe it. I want to thank our engineers for providing me the safety I know is the best in the world.”
The incident was the first public instance of a ZR1 being crashed, but likely not the last. A 755 hp car demands a ton of respect.
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