It’s a casual club weekend, and once the flag falls and the drivers are away, all those pre-race jitters fade into the background. The buzz of competition takes over, and the friendly atmosphere makes only the positives apparent—until something unexpected happens. Even the most optimistic driver dreads a mechanical failure, a competitor’s clumsy error, or a slick of oil ruining their weekend. For Ali Salih, his race took an unpleasant turn after sliding on a rival’s oil through one of Watkins Glen’s fastest corners.
When someone blows their motor ahead of you, it’s often the case that you’re simply along for the ride. There are some ways to try and slow the car, but it takes rally-ace improvisation to make them work in such a tense moment. When Salih’s Spec E46, traveling at a good 116 miles per hour, loses all braking ability on Turn 1’s slicked surface, he tries a few things to avoid smashing into the Honda Civic ahead.
Cadence braking is the first indication something isn’t quite right. Look at how the brake pressure pulses via the data readout on the right (0:07). It does slow the car slightly, but he’s still traveling at 91 miles per hour when the turn-in point arrives. After an attempt to try and scrub some speed by turning in, which might’ve been too ambitious, the rear snaps violently and he reacts as fast as any WRC driver. If it wasn’t for his instinctive countersteering, his BMW and the Civic ahead would’ve had an expensive encounter.
Though he’s likely experiencing 180 beats per minute once his car comes to a halt just before the barrier, he has the presence of mind to leave as quickly as possible. Not every driver has reflexes like him, and any driver wishing to sit, breathe, and gather themselves in such a precarious position may as well paint a bullseye on the side of their car. Fortunately this man knew better, bolted like a cat hearing a vacuum cleaner, and only suffered flat-spotted tires and a few skipped beats.