Wilson’s Dreyer and Reinbold Racing-run car was hit from behind by Katherine Legge’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing machine after cars ahead of them stacked up at Turn 1.
Both cars spun and subsequently hit the wall at differing angles at high speed. While Legge’s struck the wall side-on, allowing her to escape unhurt, Wilson’s hit the SAFER barrier head-on.
As the AMR safety crew attended to him, they immediately called for a back brace and stretcher before he was extricated from the car in a carefully-executed procedure that took over 10 minutes. He gave a thumbs up as he was loaded into the ambulance.
The 33-year-old from Sheffield in the UK was taken to the medical center and then transported on to a local hospital for advanced imaging, where the injury was diagnosed.
Stefan Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet qualification photo
Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images
A statement from his entrant Cusick Motorsports, which was partnering with Dreyer & Reinbold for the first time this year, read: “After being transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for further tests, it was disclosed that Wilson suffered a fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebrae and will stay overnight at the hospital for further tests and observation.
“Based on this type of injury, Wilson will not be allowed to compete in this Sunday’s 107th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.”
The 12th thoracic vertebra (T12) bears the most weight of that region of the spine, and while it is the strongest of those bones it is also the most susceptible to a stress-related injury.
Wilson had qualified for what would have been his fifth Indy 500 start in 25th place. It is unclear what steps Cusick and Dreyer & Reinbold will take next, saying it will “have more information in due course”.
Graham Rahal is the only driver who failed to qualify for the race in his RLLR-run car. He said earlier today that he wouldn’t consider buying a driver out of a starting spot on the grid so he could take part.
If the team were to go with a driver other than Rahal, a special refresher test would likely have to be arranged before Carb Day. In 2015, James Hinchcliffe was sidelined after a violent crash on the Monday after qualifying. Ryan Briscoe was selected as his replacement, and officials put together a special one-hour session for him to get acclimated with the car on Thursday.