It took only seconds for pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra's dreams to go up in smoke at the 2014 IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Saturday.
When the green flag dropped, Saavedra stalled at the starting line. As a result, opposing drivers were forced to work around the 23-year-old Colombian. Carlos Munoz couldn't react quickly enough, making contact with Saavedra and setting off a scary chain of events. Mikhail Aleshin also rear-ended Saavedra, compounding his bad luck.
Debris went flying all over the track. MotorSportsTalk's Tony DiZinno and The Indianapolis Star's Greg Griffo tweeted out two images from the crash to help illustrate the carnage of the accident:
“We just followed protocol of the start,” Saavedra said, trying to explain what led to his car stalling, per Bruce Martin of Speed. “As soon as I released the clutch you went from 11,000 RPMs to 0."
Saavedra tweeted out his disappointment:
Hard to describe.. Happiest moment can turn around pretty quick. At the end is never giving up and keeping your head up. Long season ahead🙏🙏— Sebastián Saavedra (@sebsaavedra) May 10, 2014
As bad as things looked, all three drivers exited their vehicles without serious injury. Associated Press auto racing writer Jenna Fryer reported that the three had been looked at and released by medical personnel:
Aleshin, Saavedra and Munoz all seen and released.— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) May 10, 2014
The collateral damage wasn't limited to the drivers, though. John Tuohy of The Indianapolis Star reported that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was struck by debris as he waved the green flag. Mayoral spokesman Marc Lotter said that Ballard had been hit in the elbow, but the injury wasn't considered serious.
What will likely be a footnote to all of this is that Simon Pagenaud won the race. Ryan Hunter-Reay settled for second, and Helio Castroneves finished third. The victory is huge for Pagenaud as he entered the day third in the standings, 33 points behind leader Will Power.
Almost every fan's attention was firmly focused on that opening-lap wreck, though. It looked extremely violent, but as is ironically the case with the worst-looking accidents, the drivers were unharmed.