An unfortunate fact about motorsport is that, even with all the precautions taken, it’s still inherently dangerous, and people can be killed. Drivers accept this risk and we all understand that it’s a sad reality of the sport when it happens, but spectators don’t sign on for that danger. This is why when it leaves the track and affects the crowd, it’s a true tragedy.
The VLN race series kicked off with its first of ten races on the Nurburgring Nordschleife, which came to a sad conclusion when a car left the track and impacted the crowd, leaving one spectator fatally injured.
Racer Jann Mardenborough was behind the wheel of a Nissan GT-R GT3 race car when, while cresting the hill at the “Flugplatz” section of the track. When it did, the car’s front end lifted high enough for air to get under the bodywork, flipping it upward and sending it careening into the barrier. Tragically, the car then bounced over the railing and through a fence lined with spectators.
Several of them were injured and one spectator was shortly pronounced dead after emergency services rushed to the scene. Driver Mardenborough was reported to have walked away relatively unscathed, but was also rushed to the hospital for routine checks.
The race was suspended immediately after the crash, being suspended completely shortly thereafter. No post-race ceremonies were held. There is spectator video of the crash happening. While not graphic, we do advise viewer discretion.
Racing team NISMO is cooperating with race organizers to fully determine what happened, but it doesn’t change the tragic result.
As of now, all GT-3 cars have been suspended from racing pending the result of the investigation. The Nurburgring nordschleife, known colloquially as “The Green Hell,” was dubbed so by legendary racer Jackie Stewart. It’s known for being quite challenging, devouring those who don’t show it enough respect. That’s usually limited to those who dare go on its track, however, and not for those who simply wanted to watch from the sidelines.