A video has emerged which shows a horrifying crash during a land speed racing event at El Mirage Dry Lake in California.

The footage shows the heavily-modified Honda Insight driven by Brian Gillespie making an attempt to set the fastest time at the meeting.

But things start to go horribly wrong as Gillespie loses control of the Honda, and it breaks into a terrifying tail-slide.

Despite Gillespie’s attempts to correct the spin, the Honda continues to rotate until the wheels on one side dig in, pitching the car into a sickening barrel roll.

The car flies end over end at least 20 times as body panels fly off in all directions, before it comes to rest on its roof.

Bystanders estimate that the Honda had been travelling at almost 200mph at the time.

Astonishingly, Gillespie survived the accident, thanks partly to the hefty roll cage which surrounded him, and partly to the head-and-neck restraint device that the Southern California Timing Associaion (SCTA), which runs the El Mirage event, mandates.

He was removed from his car and evacuated by helicopter to the Arrowhead Medical Centre in nearby Colton, where he was treated for a collapsed lung, severe bruising to his head, and a cut on his shin.

A statement posted on the website of the SCTA on November 17 said: “Brian was discharged from the hospital yesterday. He's feeling much better.

“He is progressing very well; sitting up, talking – still sharp as a tack. All the vehicle's safety equipment functioned perfectly.”

Land speed racing is a form of motorsport in which drivers compete to set the fastest maximum speed they can across a flat, open space – often a dried-up lake bed.

Their cars are often heavily modified, with aerodynamic features that enable them to set even higher top speeds.

Leon Poultney


November 21, 2013