Disney crash kills passenger
John Goreham's picture

Video- Crash at Disney highlights supercars are not amusement rides

A death on a Walt Disney track highlights just how seriously people should take track day safety.

In a tragic accident, the operations manager of the Disney track in Orlando was killed while a passenger in a Lamborghini used at the Exotic Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway. The 24-year-old driver was injured and has been released from the hospital. Some reports are calling the man killed a driving instructor.

The news reports are all very similar. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the 24-year-old driver struck a barrier on the vehicle’s right side, and the passenger in the car was killed. The Florida Highway Patrol has released the names and basic circumstances, but at this point that is the limit of the factual information.

The Disney webpage bills the ride as “Designed specifically for Exotic Driving Experience, this one-mile layout runs clockwise and combines the speed sensation of an oval with the challenges of a street-style course. Your goal…to improve your performance with every thrilling lap!” The part that seems to fit with the accident’s description is this statement by the sight: “Program offerings include 6-lap driving experiences with additional lap upgrades available and 2-lap Thrill Rides where you ride shotgun with a professional.” Unmentioned is that there is almost always a staff member in the passenger seat. That helps, and actually improves the experience, but it cannot guarantee safety.

Having been at similar events in the past, as well as having had the chance to drive supercars on both street and track as part of the media, it became apparent to this writer after his first ride in an Audi R8, that no regular driver can handle these vehicles on a racetrack safely. Even with a “pro” in the passenger seat the opportunity for a crash is very real. I was lucky enough to attend both driving and introductory racing schools to gain some level of safety for myself and other track participants. This training only opened my eyes to the safety issue.

At the speeds these vehicles can reach in a short length of track, the vehicle’s safety equipment cannot always save an occupant. Crash tests for passenger cars are done at under 40 MPH. Supercars can often to more than 60 MPH in first gear in about 3 seconds. Four seconds from the start of a ride a driver can be traveling at speeds that can kill them or their passenger in the worst of circumstances. Usually, tracks are laid out with run-off areas and barriers designed to absorb impact and lessen the severity of a crash, but still bad wrecks can happen.

The writers and staff of Torque News wish to send our sincerest condolences to the man killed in the crash and his family and friends. We also send our best wishes to the driver, who is no doubt devastated by the tragedy. Nobody wants to eliminate track experiences. Hopefully, the investigation from this sad event will lead to even better safety practices.

Update - The Naples Daily News has new information confirming that the driver was a customer and the passenger who was killed, Gary Terry, was the senior operations manager and a driving instructor.

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