Over two years ago a crash involving a Porsche Carrera GT during a Ferrari Owner's Club track day killed two event participants when they hit the wall at over 100 mph while trying to avoid a Ferrari merging onto the front straightaway. The driver and Carrera GT owner was Ben Keaton, an avid automotive enthusiast who regularly shared his wisdom on the website 6SpeedOnline.com. The car's passenger was Corey Rudl, a prospective Carrera GT buyer who wanted to take a ride. The tragic loss of these two lives brought out a great debate in the safety of California Speedway's tight infield road course, the responsibility of the event organizers, and the design of the Porsche Carrera GT itself.
While the track event participates signed waivers noting that they were aware of the inherent dangers associated with driving at high speeds on a closed course, those waivers were dependent on who was found to be negligent in the event of an incident. Tracy Rudl, the wife of passenger Corey Rudl, filed a lawsuit claiming gross negligence by many parties associated with the track event. She recently received a settlement of approximately $4.5 million. The contributing parties to the settlement fund were 2% from the merging Ferrari driver, 8% from Porsche, 41% from California Speedway and Ferrari Owner's Club and finally 49% from the Carrera GT driver's estate.[Source: Sports Car Market Magazine]
Stories such as this one can greatly divide opinion. On one hand, two guys lost their lives voluntarily participating in a dangerous event. On the other hand, the extent of the damage could have been reduced, if not completely avoided, by greater thought and care on the part of the race track and event organizers in the areas of visibility and pit-in/pit-out coordination. Then there's the debate about how safe the Porsche Carrera GT is to drive at high speeds. Hopefully the result of this lawsuit will not scare off other event organizers due to liability, but merely cause them to put more thought into eliminating potential safety issues.