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MGB Steve Prefontaine's MGB Death

philman

Jedi Knight
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Saw this editorial in the Sunday Eugene Register-Guard. I put it here because the writer explains the accident in terms of MGB characteristics.

https://www.registerguard.com/csp/cms/sit...sid=5&fid=2

Steve Prefontaine died in a car accident at the height of his running career in Eugene Oregon. The author of the article lived near the site of the accident.
 

RickB

Yoda
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I was a High School student/athlete in an Oregon School at that time, I remember the tragedy - though I was no where near as close as the writer of this story.

IMHO: Maybe a little more emphasis on the "beer we drank" and a bit lighter on the "poorly designed car" would have been in order. I guess that's the MG car owner in me, but I've owned & driven these cars for 30 years - MGB's, MGC & Midget. You have to know the car, its capabilities and it's shortcomings, before you can drive them hard. I've put a car up on its side on that kind of corner, mine was a Pontiac. Same issue with the steering, however I was also distracted by the three High School buddies in the car, going way too fast and the car behaved just like the author describes. Fortunately the bank was dirt & not solid rock and the car didn't flip over on it's top.

Just MHO & my 2 pennies. Distraction kills, plain & simple. I've been in many accidents where distraction (mine and/or the other driver) was the cause, I know of this first hand.
 

Steve_S

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"IMHO: Maybe a little more emphasis on the "beer we drank" and a bit lighter on the "poorly designed car" would have been in order."

I couldn't agree more, and I apologize in advance for the following rant. :smile:
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]With an MGB, which has most of the weight on the front, the front tires lose adhesion first and the car will want to go straight ahead. Modern cars, and even many other cars of the 1970s, are more “neutral” than these extreme examples.[/QUOTE]Does this guy know anything about MGBs? They are pretty darn close to 50/50 balance. They also have no more understeer than is intentionally built into any other road vehicle. A little more than a modern sports car perhaps, but a normal amount for the day, or for any modern family car. Hardly what I would call an "extreme example".

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]An MGB has very little front “overhang,” or bodywork in front of the wheels, which makes the wheels more exposed. As the left front tire hit the curb, it would have deflected violently to the left, wrenching the steering wheel out of Steve’s hands.[/QUOTE]You have got to be kidding me! How would having a bunch of excess body in the front of the car make the tires less likely to hit the curb? Ride height is ride height regardless of how much bodywork exists in the front of the car.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]The theory that another car was involved is implausible. If two cars had crossed paths at this corner they would have hit each other, plain and simple.[/QUOTE]Another ridiculous statement. Many vehicle accidents are caused by a second vehicle despite the vehicles never touching each other. Another car could have been coming the other way, and if Pre had crossed the line he would have realized the only way to clear that car would be on the outside. He therefore would have veered around that car, and at that point hit the curb. It seems extremely plausible to me! As for skid marks, if he crossed the line, saw another car, and hit the brakes in panic, this would also explain driving off the road in an understeer condition.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]...at the worst possible place and in a poorly designed car.[/QUOTE]What is he comparing Pre's MGB to? They are one of the most forgiving-handling cars of the era. They are easier to maneuver than most cars of that type and far better handling than the typical family car of that decade, or the decade or two following.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]Blame the road, blame the car — but don’t blame Steve.[/QUOTE]An utterly absurd and narrow-minded statement. What a disappointing article. And by all means, don't blame the beer!
 

DrEntropy

Great Pumpkin
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What a MAROON!!! He claims to have racing experience?!? I think he's fulla himself.

...and some other stuff...

:madder: :wall:
 
OP
philman

philman

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I didn't think that this would cause this much of a stir. I do note the author is not a trained accident scene investigator and so his conclusions may be based on what a competition driver might do (except that all cars are going the same direction in competition) and Steve Prefontaine was not a competive driver.

Also, wider tires do not make a car more road worthy. I read somewhere (this is also a hole in his theories) that the standard MGB out handled stock Mustangs up through the 90's, so that even though the suspension was designed in the 50's and dated (if you believe him) that doesn't mean that it was a poor design or not up to date in the 70's. Maybe the design was years ahead of other manufacturers designs.

That says a lot from a TR owner. I've driven B's and find them a good handling vehicle, easy to drive and very forgiving
 

RickB

Yoda
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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:]That says a lot from a TR owner. I've driven B's and find them a good handling vehicle, easy to drive and very forgiving[/QUOTE]

(you should try driving a spridget...) :wink:
Having had several B's a C and a Midget I find the Midget to be the most fun car I've ever owned. I can drive it hard & it never disappoints.
And bear in mind that I LOVE my other cars.
 

ronzi

Senior Member
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Seems to me it was a fairly well written article, by a reporter who has at least some credentials for commenting on what he was writing about.
The B does exhibit understeer, the skinny tires didn't help, the particular characteristics of the corner no doubt played a part (sounds like a mini-Eau Rouge, doesn't it?), maybe the beer did too.
There are a couple of points that don't quite mesh. On the one hand, he claims the steering wheel "...would have deflected violently to the left, wrenching the steering wheel out of Steve’s hands." Several paragraphs later, in a discussion of understeer and oversteer, he says at the point of impact "The wheels were turned to the right, and they were rotating, but the car was still going straight ahead." Seems to me if the wheels were turned to the right, the steering wheel must also have been turned to the right. It stretches the bonds of credulity to believe that upon hitting the curb, the steering wheel would have somehow reversed direction and "... deflected violently to the left, ...".
No matter, he smacked the curb and rolled the car, killing himself.
The writer's conclusions are, of course, totally bogus. Blame the road, blame the car, but don't blame Steve. ??? There is nobody else TO blame.
 

tony barnhill

Great Pumpkin - R.I.P
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Let me see if I've got this right:

A drunk gets behind the wheel of an MGB, goes too fast into a hairpin curve, loses control & hits a 2'-3' wall which causes the car to flip over & kill him.

And the car gets blamed?
 

RickB

Yoda
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It's hero worship.
There are some people who can do amazing things, they are still human and still have human weakness and still can make incredibly stupid decisions.

I'm lucky none of mine have killed me yet. :wink:
I've made some doozies. I like to think I'm getting wiser as I get older, I guess time alone will tell.
I averaged more than 2 serious vehicle mishaps per year between the ages of 11 - 30. My first at 11 was driving the farm owners truck back from the fields, I rolled it from an upper road down to a lower one. The Paramedics cut me out and the ER had to put stuff in my eyes so they could pick the glass out.
From 30 - 40 the average was one in 5 years.
Between 40 - 50 it's only been one.
That's one too many, I intend to improve my average considerably over the next 20 or so years. :wink:
 

Steve

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Agreed. The author has no idea what he's talking about. Having done accident investigation, I can state that it's obvious that he hasn't a clue. And neither, with all due respect, would rural police officers. To do it properly is a specialised thing.
 

Tosh

Jedi Trainee
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This discussion makes me think of a magazine article had possession of a while back which discussed Prefontaine's beginnings, achievements and death.
I could swear that the writer said Prefontaine was driving a Midget.
Let's see if I can find that magazine.

Keep on.
 

jlaird

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Steve, your site is awsum. Surely gives a person reason to pause.
 

Rick_Stevens

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tony barnhill said:
Let me see if I've got this right:

A drunk gets behind the wheel of an MGB, goes too fast into a hairpin curve, loses control & hits a 2'-3' wall which causes the car to flip over & kill him.

And the car gets blamed?


Doin' my part for the Plagiarists' Union, Tony, I sent this little missive to the editor of that paper:

<span style="font-style: italic">Editor,

I just finished reading Bill Penney’s piece on Steve Prefontaine’s death. If there is an award for “Most Ill-Informed Journalist,” Penney must be a finalist.

So let’s see: A drunk driver speeds into a hairpin turn, loses control, slams into a retaining wall and dies. Penney blames the car.

Unbelievable.
</span>

Who knows? Maybe somebody'll read it.
grin.gif
 

tony barnhill

Great Pumpkin - R.I.P
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Rick_Stevens said:
tony barnhill said:
Let me see if I've got this right:

A drunk gets behind the wheel of an MGB, goes too fast into a hairpin curve, loses control & hits a 2'-3' wall which causes the car to flip over & kill him.

And the car gets blamed?


Doin' my part for the Plagiarists' Union, Tony, I sent this little missive to the editor of that paper:

<span style="font-style: italic">Editor,

I just finished reading Bill Penney’s piece on Steve Prefontaine’s death. If there is an award for “Most Ill-Informed Journalist,” Penney must be a finalist.

So let’s see: A drunk driver speeds into a hairpin turn, loses control, slams into a retaining wall and dies. Penney blames the car.

Unbelievable.
</span>

Who knows? Maybe somebody'll read it.
grin.gif
hehehe....if anybody asks, you got my permission first...hehehe
 

Joe Reed

Jedi Warrior
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Interesting that the writer finds terminal understeer to be dangerous. Perhaps he thinks Pre would have been better off in a Porsche!
 

Steve_S

Yoda
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We should point his editor to this thread even though they would probably brush it off as biased opinions because there are MGB owners here.
 
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