Although the 107th running of the Indy 500 was a spectacular race featuring a fan favorite first-time winner in Joseph Newgarden, its biggest talking point came with 17 laps to go when an accident sent a detached tire from Kyle Kirkwood’s car flying over the packed grandstands.
There is nothing more dangerous in motor racing for fans or drivers than detached wheels and had the tire landed in the grandstand at over 100 miles per hour, there would almost certainly have been fatalities. Instead, the tire landed in a parking lot; its only casualty a white Chevy Cruz owned by spectator Robin Matthews.
@astronomicalr6 Tire goes flying #racing #racecar #indy500 #indy #indycar #tire #cars #donttrythisathome #donebyprofessional ♬ original sound - Astro
“My car’s name is Snowball, and she took one for the team,” Matthews told WTHR while rocking a fantastic checkered dress.
Indy 500 staff initially tried to hide the damaged car, leading some fans to fear the worst.
“Bro on TV I saw them holding that blanket and thought for sure someone got smoked,” corsacaleb commented on TikTok.
But plenty of other fan videos show Snowball and her busted left front clear as day.
@yetim4n rogue tire! Kyle Kirkwood and Felix Rosenqvist #indy #indycar #indycarracing #indy500 #500 #race #crazy #crash #racing #flip ♬ original sound - yeti man
For over 24 years, Indycar has used tire tethers to help prevent incidents like this one. The tethers are made from a high-performance Zylon material that can withstand 22,000 pounds of force, and new regulations before this season actually strengthened rear tire tethers.
After an investigation, however, Indycar claimed that the tether was not to blame in this case. “The tether did not fail,” they said in a statement. “This is an isolated incident.” However, neither the statement nor race owner Roger Penske offered any alternative explanation for the cause of the detached wheel.
As consolation for her busted car, Indycar allowed Robin Matthews to kiss the bricks, a privilege normally reserved for the race’s winner.
“I appreciate it and love it the most,” she said. “I’ll be back next year.”