Raceday 2014 had a lot of tight competition, some very exciting heats, some "rubbing-is-racing", a 3-wide finish, and some surprising placements. But, for me, it is going to be forever memorable for the absolutely horrific crash that Banyan had as Fringe Women's C. It was out of the view of CMUtv and most of the crowd, and I and any other photographer with a clear view were too busy running to get out of the way of the buggy.
Basically, Banyan hit the curb of Schenley Drive at a near perpendicular angle, at speed. This was far enough downhill of the chute that there were no haybales. The buggy stopped instantly against the curb. The driver continued forwards, coming to rest with her helmet at or near the nose of the buggy. I do not know if the helmet hit the curb, but it certainly hit the inside of the hatch with enough force to detach the hatch and windshield and propel them several feet forwards onto the sidewalk. It was by far the most violent crash I've ever seen, and people who've been watching since the 60's said the same. The driver was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and the only rumor I've heard is that she was expected to be kept overnight and suffer no lasting injury. If that is the case, either drivers are more durable than I imagined, or she was very lucky.
There's nothing obvious about this accident that is specific to Fringe - it could've been any other team instead, and some of those may have done better, and some worse. No doubt, a crash like this will happen again to someone. In the interest of that future driver, I call on Fringe to be open and honest with the rest of the buggy community about how Banyan's driver protection performed, so that other teams can decide whether their own buggies have weaknesses that need to be improved.
In particular, did the harness perform as designed, and if not, why?
Drivers are pretty similar across all teams, thus harnesses are largely similar across teams too.
I would not have believed a properly fastened harness could permit so much forward movement, but if the harness in fact stretched so far, then it doesn't bode well for any team that uses a similar harness in a buggy with a front wheel.
In retrospect, it is probably not a good idea to have the traditional CIA alumni area and parked cars on the bridge. I hope the driver was not trying to use the bridge as a runoff only to find it blocked.