Grand Prix starts with crash; Ballard hit by debris

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The inaugural Grand Prix race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway started with a crash Saturday afternoon, and Mayor Greg Ballard was slightly injured as a result.

Drivers lined up for a standing start to the race. Pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra’s car stalled, leading to a chain-reaction crash on the track.

24-Hour News 8 crews at the IMS report Mayor Ballard, who was waving the green flag, was hit in the elbow with a piece of debris. His injury did not appear to be serious, however he did receive medical attention.

Exclusive video | Track-side video of the crash

Governor Mike Pence arrived at the medical center at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway shortly after 5 p.m. Marc Lotter, Communications Director for Mayor Ballard, sent out the following tweet shortly afterward:

Mayor Ballard left the medical center around 5:20 p.m. and also took to Twitter, thanking everyone for their help:

Dr. Geoffery Billows, medical director at IMS said that Ballard had a “soft tissue injury.” Billows said Mayor Ballard was checked out, treated and sent home to rest. Mayor Ballard waved goodbye to people outside the medical center saying, “I’m fine, I’m good.”

Marc Lotter, the mayor’s spokesperson said that the dramatic crash is not going to scare the mayor away from the track.

“He was already quipping on his way out the door about how soon it would be until he could come back to the track and get ready for the 500 later this week,” said Lotter.

Moments before the crash, Mayor Ballard told reporters he wanted to move closer to the start line, but he wasn’t allowed to. If he had moved closer, he would have been right in the path of the crash’s debris.

“To have a standing start and crash right at the beginning that’s very interesting,” said Victor Vallee, a fan at IMS.

Every fan 24-Hour News 8 spoke with agreed, calling the first ever race an absolute success despite the crash.

“The race was absolutely awesome. Being the inaugural race, so when you’re doing a road course it’s absolutely intense,” said fan Bryan Brown.

Fans from all around the country raved about the Grand Prix. One fan said he travels from California every year for the 500 and made an extra trip this year for the Grand Prix.

“It’s a good venue. Keep it up. I live in California and came all the way out here for this,” he said.

“I loved the race. I love the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was a great race,” said fan John Meyers.

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