Not sure if people caught this little story about Mark Hales. Hales is well known car journalist and racing driver in the UK. He's been around since I was an egg. Hales is in hot water right now because he blew engine on David Piper’s Porsche 917. Hales was driving the car for an article and he over-revved the engine and popped it (although there is some debate this issue). David Piper, who has been racing long before I was an egg, sued Hales over the damage and won. Hales now owes Piper $174,000 for the engine rebuild and the court costs. The demand is likely to cost Hales his home and push him into bankruptcy. Ouch.
There are a lot of things going on here in the background. Hales claims the car miss-shifted and wasn’t his fault. Piper says Hales revved higher than as instructed. Hales supposedly agreed verbally to cover the costs before he knew the damage cost $100k. To add insult to injury, it doesn’t look like anyone took out any insurance to cover any potential damage, which I find surprising. The 917 is worth $2million. It looks like a lot of balls got dropped. Overall, it’s a big mess.
I can sympathize with Mark Hales’ plight. I once destroyed someone’s car. I can’t go into details because a story was concocted to cover up what happened as the one of the owner didn’t know I would be driving the car. I did come away with two broken vertebrae for my trouble, so I didn’t get away scot-free. But I can see how these things happen. Everybody knows each other. Everyone trusts each other. And one day someone says, do you want to take it for a spin and no one thinks the worst will happen and naturally no one protects themselves for it.
My advice is always, if you're going to race a car, make sure it’s your own—or have a lot of insurance.