Scott Brayton was a 37-year-old American race car driver who competed in 14 Indianapolis 500s, starting from 1981. He was known for his expertise in driving the powerful Buick and Menard V-6 engines, which he helped develop with his father’s firm, Brayton Engineering. He won two consecutive Indy 500 pole positions in 1995 and 1996, setting a record speed of 231.604 mph in the process. He was also a popular and respected figure in the racing community, admired for his passion, professionalism, and sportsmanship. He was married to Becky Brayton, and they had a daughter named Carly. But his life and career were tragically cut short by a fatal crash during a practice session for the 1996 Indy 500.
What Happened to Scott Brayton?
On May 17, 1996, Scott Brayton was making a practice run in his backup car, a Lola-Menard, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had already secured the pole position for the race, and was testing some adjustments to his car. According to the data from his car, he was going at about 233 mph on the backstretch, when his right rear tire suddenly lost pressure and deflated. This caused his car to lose control and spin into the outside wall at turn two, hitting it at an angle of 30 degrees. The impact was so severe that it tore off the left side of his car, and inflicted massive head injuries to Brayton. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the medical staff.
How Did the Racing World React?
Scott Brayton’s death shocked and saddened the entire racing world, especially his fellow drivers, team members, and fans. Many of them paid tribute to him by wearing black armbands, stickers, or decals with his name or number. Some of them also dedicated their performances or victories to his memory. His funeral, held in his hometown of Coldwater, Michigan, was attended by hundreds of people, including many prominent figures from the racing industry. His pole position for the Indy 500 was left vacant, and a moment of silence was observed before the start of the race. His replacement driver, Danny Ongais, who had not raced in nine years, finished seventh in the race, and donated his earnings to Brayton’s family.
What Was the Cause of the Tire Failure?
The investigation into the cause of the tire failure that led to Scott Brayton’s death revealed that it was a rare and unpredictable event, that could not have been prevented or detected by anyone. The tire manufacturer, Goodyear, conducted extensive tests and analysis on the tire, and found that it had suffered a puncture from a sharp object, possibly a piece of debris, metal, or stone, that had penetrated the tire’s tread and inner liner. The puncture was so small that it was not visible to the naked eye, and it did not cause any immediate loss of air pressure. However, as Brayton continued to drive at high speed, the puncture expanded and created a tear in the tire’s sidewall, resulting in a sudden and catastrophic deflation. Goodyear stated that this was a “one-in-a-million” occurrence, and that their tires were safe and reliable.
How Can You Remember Scott Brayton?
Scott Brayton was a talented and courageous race car driver, who achieved remarkable feats in his career. He was also a kind and generous person, who loved his family and friends, and supported many charitable causes. His death was a tragedy that could not have been foreseen or avoided, and it left a void in the hearts of many. If you want to remember Scott Brayton and honor his legacy, you can do the following:
- Watch some of his races and highlights on YouTube or other platforms, and appreciate his skills and achievements.
- Visit his memorial website, which features his biography, photos, videos, and messages from his fans and colleagues.
- Donate to the Scott Brayton Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to students who pursue careers in engineering or motorsports.
- Send your condolences and messages of support to his family and friends.
Scott Brayton’s cause of death was a tragic case of tire failure that ended a racing career. Let’s hope that his family finds peace and comfort, and that his spirit lives on through his legacy and his loved ones.