The injured Panther Racing crewmember from last year's IZOD IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway is speaking out about pit road safety, as a means of pushing the series for proactive safety improvements.
Eric Scheumann, who changed the inside rear tire on JR Hildebrand's car, suffered severe lower left leg injuries when Hildebrand came in too fast on a pit stop. In an interview with The Arizona Republic, a story which also received coverage in USA Today, Scheumann admitted he feels the series needs to make changes to better protect the over-the-wall crew.
“With the amount of pain and suffering I went through, it's all for naught if no one stands up to make a difference,” Scheumann told The Republic.
Scheumann described the nature of impact when Hildebrand's car collided with him.
“JR came in too fast,” Scheumann said. “I faintly remember the entry looking different. It was only about a half-second from (when) he turned in to when he made contact with me, so there was no time to get out of the way. He drove straight into me.”
As the race also featured a pit incident involving Simona de Silvestro's car, Scheumann attests there were several issues in the procedural preparedness to tend to his own injuries. Some pit medical personnel were tending to the crew member in de Silvestro's pit, while a communications issue meant available safety trucks weren't responding.
Scheumann also told The Republic that the fees associated with treating his condition were only covered by IndyCar for the first $50,000. He had had successful surgery the day after the race. Still, there may be more to come to this if legal action were to take place.