Racing Roundup: Grosjean Says He 'Saw Death' During F1 Crash, Chili Bowl Heats Up, NASCAR Mourns
The French driver should be on his way home by the time you read this.
Romain Grosjean’s horrific crash continues to be the talk of the motorsports world, and will likely be so for some time. Grosjean, driving for the U.S.-based Haas F1 team, crashed into a barrier just past turn 3 on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix Sunday, walking through a wall of flame to reach his rescuers.
"It felt much longer than 28 seconds,” that he was in the fire, Grosjean told French broadcaster TF1. “I see my visor turning all orange, I see the flames on the left side of the car. I thought about a lot of things—including Niki Lauda—and I thought that it wasn't possible to end up like that, not now. I couldn't finish my story in Formula 1 like that.” Lauda was a three-time champion driver who was severely burned in a crash.
Grosjean’s worst injury was burns to his hands, but they are not considered severe, and he should be on his way home to France today.
Meanwhile, investigations will continue into the crash, likely centering on the steel Armco-like barriers that line the course. Grosjean’s car actually punched a hole in the fencing, and he ended up on the spectator side. Soft walls are required at many tracks, and it will be interesting to see if F1 increases its focus on the barriers that use foam to compress and cushion cars that crash into them.
HAMILTON POSITIVE: Lewis Hamilton, who won the Bahrain GP and is already the 2020 champion, tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the Sakhir GP this weekend, also at the Bahrain track. A replacement driver has not been announced. Hamilton said he is “gutted” to end his consecutive steak of 265 race starts, and that he is in “self-isolation” for 10 days. He is the third F1 driver to miss at least one race because of the coronavirus after Racing Point's Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll.
NASCAR MOURNS: NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports in particular continue to mourn the death of newlyweds William “Rowdy” Harrell and his wife Blakely, who were killed in a car crash on their honeymoon in Florida. Harrell was driving in the Florida Keys when he crossed the centerline of the road in his Toyota Corolla and struck a truck in the oncoming lane. The occupants of the truck survived with serious injuries.
Harrell, 30, was a tire carrier for Hendrick Motorsports for the last eight seasons, most recently with the No. 88 NASCAR Cup Series team of driver Alex Bowman. He was also a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion pit crew member with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports. Harrell played football at the University of Alabama, where he was a member of three national championship teams as a walk-on linebacker. He was native of Moundville, Alabama., living in Charlotte.
CHASE TO CHILI: NASCAR Cup champion Chase Elliott has entered the Chili Bowl, the January event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where hundreds of racers compete for the Golden Driller trophy. The race, featuring midget dirt cars, takes a week to pare down to the top 24. The race is held in a massive Tulsa building once used to construct drilling rigs. Kyle Larson is expected to return to defend his championship, as is Christopher Bell, a three-time Chili Bowl champ.
EARNHARDT "MEDIA MOGUL": Forbes has proclaimed Dale Earnhardt, Jr. as the newest “media mogul,” operating a company called Dirty Mo Media that produces “Lost Speedways” on Comcast’s new streaming platform Peacock, as well as the “Dale Jr. Download” on NBCSN. He is also an NBC analyst for the network’s NASCAR coverage.
“I make a competition out of everything,” he said. “I walk out of the broadcast booth after every race and I grade it. I’ll say it wasn’t that good or we did a great job. It’s a competition with no one other than myself. You want to win in life, no matter what it is that you do.”