Iconic Photos

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Pancho Carter goes Upside Down

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IRL Indy History Auto Racing

Never since Indianapolis 500 International Sweepstakes began in 1911, had an image this picture-perfect been captured on film. The car of American Duane C. “Pancho” Carter, Jr. went airborne and flipped upside down during practice for the Indy 500 on May 3rd 1987. In a moment Sports Illustrated called ‘flying start’, his March-Cosworth went airborne after spinning in Turn 3, rolled over, sailed about 100 feet and fell back to the track.

At 5:58 p.m. when Carter had his spectacular crash, the wind was strong and air got underneath his car. Carter found himself sliding down the track for some 600 feet on his head, with the small automobile strapped to his butt. Then, he bounced off a concrete wall and slid another 260 feet. Carter himself was not seriously injured; the next day, he was back on track, with a new car and a new helmet. His old helmet, with three major scrapes from rubbing along the pavement, was sent to Indy Hall of Fame down the road.

The above photo was taken for AP by Bill Stalions. Another less spectacular version can be found here.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

September 1, 2009 at 10:57 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] Pancho Carter goes Upside Down « Iconic Photos […]

  2. Another IMS track photographer was able to capture a 6 frame sequence of that Pancho incident. Do you have those prints as well?


    December 11, 2009 at 6:36 pm

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