Motorsports Crashes and the need for Rhinoplasty
It can be said that motorsports are extremely high risk and high reward with their fair share of crashes throughout the years. Injuries vary from extreme events where a driver is completely immobilised for weeks or months, to a simple broken bone or dislocated limb that can be put back in place on the spot. However, one of the most common injuries facing drivers, past and present, is a broken nose.
A broken nose can occur in a variety of ways. A high pressure collision with a car, debris or barrier can lead to the crumpling of a helmet or the sheer force leading to the cartilage in the nose snapping within an enclosed helmet. Although rarer nowadays due to improved driver safety, in the past a broken nose after a crash was possibly the lesser of many evils when comparing possible injuries.
One possible way of treating such damage is through a Rhinoplasty; this article will explain what that is and an example of drivers who have received it.
What is Rhinoplasty?
Rhinoplasty is in the simplest terms the reconstructive surgery of the nose performed by a rhinoplasty surgeon; otherwise known as a “nose job”. It can be applied in order to treat a blunt impact trauma, alongside a range of medical needs including penetrating trauma, blast trauma, skin cancer and congenital deformities.
Rhinoplasty is used to produce a functional, aesthetic, and proportionate nose through separating the skin and tissue of the nose from the cartilage based nasal framework. Ways to do this involve the Bilobed, Nasolabial, Paramedian forehead flap, and the Septal mucosal flap techniques; basically being different ways in which a rhinoplasty surgeon can manipulate the nasal tissue to reconstruct the nose.
One famous example of a driver crashing in such a way is Jochen Rindt, a German born F1 racing driver for Cooper and Brabham from 1964-1968, and Lotus from 1969 – 1970. Originally when transferring to Lotus, Brindt was uneasy alongside his co-driver as they were continuously concerned about Lotus being very quick compared to Cooper and Brabham, alongside the fact that Rindt wanted to finish the championship victorious whatever the cost. Rindt’s well known concern and hesitation about signing a contract for Lotus was reiterated by the commonly repeated quote; “At Lotus, I can either be world champion or die.”
The crash occurred at the 1969 Spanish Grand Prix when Rindt’s Lotus car’s high suspension wings mounted on the vehicle broke off, which could have potentially killed Rindt. The effects of this lifted the car upwards off the track and into one of the nearby barriers where his team mate Graham Hill had also crashed in the same way. However, Rindt came off relatively unscathed with only a broken nose which later needed rhinoplasty surgery to fix up. It can be viewed in multiple photographs after the event at future races that Rindt bore the scars and tape involved in a rhinoplasty.
Another famous driver who suffered a similar fate is Duncan Hamilton. An Irish driver involved in the world renowned le mans circuit in 1953, he had an interesting incident after being initially disqualified from the event. This was due to racing in a Jaguar C-type with the same racing number as another car on the circuit at the same time, leading to Hamilton as his racing partner Tony Rolt getting drunk at the local bar with no hope of getting through. However, after being reinstated to the race, Hamilton and Rolt would become legends, taking on the vicious circuit intoxicated, despite multiple attempts to sober them up.
Hamilton and Rolt’s team manager Lofty England was famously quoted saying; “Of course I would never have let them race under the influence. I had enough trouble when they were sober!” Despite being drunk, they were allowed to race, but it was not a “crash” exactly which lead to Hamilton breaking his nose. In fact, whilst racing around the circuit at well over 130mph, Hamilton struck a bird mid-flight, smashing into his helmet and breaking his nose. The pair recovered and went on to win the circuit despite being drunk and Hamilton being injured. Of course, both drivers denied being inebriated.