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An Analysis of Maximum Vehicle G Forces and Brain Injury in Motorsports Crashes


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 2 - p 246-249
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000184773.07870.5e
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: Traumatic brain injury from automobile crashes is a major source of trauma deaths. The investigation of crashes to understand factors of occupant injuries is an established practice. Our objective was to evaluate the association between vehicle G forces (G) sustained on impact and brain injury in motor sports crashes.

Methods: We analyzed data regarding Indy Racing League (IRL) car crashes from 1996 to 2003 and compared the likelihood of head injury in those drivers who were in a vehicle that sustained an impact of ≥50 G versus those with a lesser impact. The mean maximal G for those with head injury was compared with those without head injury.

Results: We analyzed 374 crashes. A driver in a crash with an impact of ≥50 G developed a head injury 16.0% (30/188) versus 1.6% (3/186) in those of <50 G (P < 0.001). The mean peak G for those with head injury was 79.6 (SD 28.5) versus 50.6 (SD 28.0) in those with no head injury (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Findings were that IRL car crashes with peak vehicle G ≥ 50 were associated with the development of traumatic brain injuries.

1The Indy Racing League, Indianapolis, IN; 2Department of Emergency Medicine and Department of Medicine, and 3Division of Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN

Address for correspondence: Christopher S. Weaver, Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, 1050 Wishard Blvd., Rm R2200, Indianapolis, IN 46202; E-mail:

Submitted for publication December 2004.

Accepted for publication August 2005.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine