I have been thinking about the Paul Walker incident for a week now. For the most part I have managed to keep my big mouth shut, however as often happens I read something that caused me to open my big mouth. Chris Harris, who may have the best job in the automotive world, wrote a blog for the Piston Heads website. “DON’T DEMONISE THE CARRERA GT”. I found it poignant and timely.
Harris brings up many good points, and in particular I agree with his point that if as a society we legislate the power output and performance of cars, well that is a society I would not want to live in. It opens the door to many other legislative restrictions on personal life. He goes on later to propose that modern cars have their performance limited in dense urban areas. This proposal is in direct conflict with his previous statement about restrictive legislation. Does Chris Harris really believe that it is now impossible for people to have any sense of personal responsibility?
The one thing that every article I read on this subject seems to be avoiding is any mention of the forces involved in a low speed accident. Everyone seems to believe (incorrectly) that Walker and Rodas must have been traveling at some unbelievable and totally reckless rate of speed. This may well have been true, and the authorities have not completed their investigation, so we don’t know for sure. What I do know for sure is that you can very easily destroy a car in a 1st gear incident below 40 mph.
Many years ago, a person who prefers to remain anonymous (not me) wrecked a car at an autocross, in first gear, traveling much less than 40mph. I watched it with my own eyes and I could not believe it. The driver lost control of the car and spun sideways into a concrete block that was holding up a light pole in a parking lot. As you can imagine, the concrete did not move, not even an inch, but the right side of the car was caved in halfway to the center tunnel, and the car was bent like a banana. It’s a good thing there was no-one in the passenger seat at the time. The forces involved in stopping a 3000lb car are great indeed, and the public at large does not have any idea what the mass of that car will do when a car meets an immovable object.
By all accounts the Porsche Carrera GT is a difficult car to handle, even for a professional driver, and the deaths of these two men is a sad and tragic tale. Why is it that through all of this all we get is the media demonizing cars, and not a single mention of the absolutely horrid state of driver education in this country? Surely some appreciation for simple Newtonian physics might help people make more responsible choices in their driving behavior.