GM exec: 'Sorry does not describe' crashing pace car at Detroit Grand Prix
Detroit — In a highly unusual occurrence in auto racing, the second race of the Detroit Grand Prix was delayed Sunday when the Corvette ZR1 pace car spun at the start of its first lap and struck a portion of the wall of the Raceway on Belle Isle, with considerable force.
Debris on the track just after Turn 2 and the need to use the backup pace car resulted in a delay from the 3:50 p.m. scheduled starting time.
IndyCar series cars, which had lined up behind the pace car in 12 rows, were brought to a stop on the track and then returned to the pits.
The driver of the pace car, Mark Reuss, leads the design, engineering, safety, quality, research and development, advanced vehicle technology and program management of General Motors.
Reuss, who got out of the car to assess the damage, had been driving with IndyCar official Mark Sandy.
Neither Reuss nor Sandy were injured in the crash, a GM spokesman said.
"I saw him (Reuss) after and talked to him and he's fine," Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker said. "He told me he was totally OK and just disappointed in what happened."
Reuss was apologetic in a Facebook post.
"I want to thank you all for your well wishes today. 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."
Crews of the racing team gathered around the cars. Some checked the tires for any debris that might have collected from the mishap.
"You can only imagine that the social media channels are having a little fun, at the moment," Allen Bestwick, the race announcer for ABC, said on the broadcast.
The command to restart engines came at 4:17 p.m., 27 minutes after the scheduled start of the race.
After the race, IndyCar driver Will Power was sympathetic to Reuss' mishap.
"I felt really bad for whoever was in the pace car," Power said. "It's very easy to do, and the traction control must have been turned off. Wasn't really his fault."
Added race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay: "That's a testament to the Corvette and 750 horsepower. I've driven one before and you don't want to jump on the gas. That's a fast car. It's something that can happen and the race hadn't started, so no big deal."