I've felt a bit ghoulish the last few days. You see, I've gotten back to my work on the second book in the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series, and it starts with a bang. Literally. It starts with a wreck. So I've been searching for videos of crashes and trying to understand what each driver involved was thinking and trying to do, what went wrong with their plans, and what went wrong with other conditions, such as weather, surface, traffic, etc.
In some ways, it's a fascinating abstract problem. It's all too easy sometimes to watch something like NASCAR and think of the cars as easily regenerated items. I mean, that's not too farfetched, right? We see them, good as new, week after week, no matter what kind of crumpled mess they end up in the week before. And since NASCAR drivers are so rarely hurt badly these days, crashes seem almost fun.
I won't go into the terrible reminders we've had this year that crashes are often very serious, and can be deadly. I'll just say that safety has come a long way.
I haven't found a video of exactly what I want to happen in Kate's crash (suffice to say this accident needs to result in specific outcomes), but I've watched a couple others to get a feel for how an out-of-control car moves in the location I've chosen, as well as around the rest of the track.
Those of you who know racing have already figured out the track I'm working with: Road America (track map above). And I'm betting you've all also figured out what turn I'm talking about. Yes, the Kink, where GT2 Corvettes reach more than 145 m.p.h. and pull up to 2.6Gs. Through a turn. As Jan Magnussen said of it, “If you’re willing to take a risk, you can gain a lot – or lose a lot. That makes it really exciting.”
Exciting is one word for it. Just ask Katherine Legge, who walked away only mildly bruised from a spectacular wreck in the 2006 CART race.
Though I feel like I'm protesting too much, I'm really not someone who enjoys the wrecks, except for what they tell me about what a driver is thinking and trying to do ... and getting wrong. I guess I'll have to live with a bit of ghoulishness, in pursuit of the story I want to tell.