Pace was driving a 1974 Shadow DN4 during a qualifying session when the laws of aerodynamics conspired against him in the worst way.
The combination of the crest of the hill, the air being stalled by the car ahead, and the rudimentary aero of a near-800bhp, flat-floored Can-Am car turned his vision sky blue.
Jim Pace driving the 1974 Shadow DN4 here flips when he loses downforce going up the hill at @roadamerica. He reportedly walked away. #carcrash #racingcrash #roadamerica #historicrafing #racingcarcrash
📷 Larry Fullhorse pic.twitter.com/LOesq3Cqq6
— Darren L. Jack (@Dazincanada) July 25, 2020
According to reports, the car flipped straight upside-down, landed on its rollbar, and skidded along the road before coming to a halt. Amazingly, Pace was able to walk away from the wreck.
It’s the kind of accident that is thankfully rare in motorsport, but isn’t without precedent. Most memorably, Mercedes had issues at Le Mans with its CLR in 1999, with both Mark Webber and Peter Dumbreck experiencing backflips after air got under the front of the car.
In 1998, Yannick Dalmas had the same thing happen to him while driving a Porsche 911 GT1 at Road Atlanta…
…and at the same track in 2000, Bill Auberlen’s BMW V12 LMR went for a flip. It was a unique quirk of the cars of the era which has since largely been solved in modern sportscars through the use of vents in the wheel arches.
But there’s a big difference between having a scary accident in a relatively modern endurance racer and a Can-Am brute from the 1970s that’s basically just a massive engine wrapped in fibreglass. Looking at what was left of the car, it’s utterly remarkable that Pace was unhurt.
,Jim Pace, the driver was unhurt pic.twitter.com/yB3Pnx9vxY
— Axis Of Oversteer (@AxisOfOversteer) July 26, 2020