Sports Car Driver Critically Injured in Rancho Santa Fe crash

Sports Car Driver Critically Injured in Rancho Santa Fe crash

A 21-year-old Rancho Santa Fe man was critically injured and his passenger also suffered major injuries when a speeding sports car, a rare Ariel Atom, went out of control on a curve on Christmas Eve and struck an SUV head-on, California Highway Patrol officers said.

A 62-year-old San Diego man and a woman in the Ford Expedition were transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla with minor to moderate injuries from the Rancho Santa Fe crash, California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Bettencourt said. They appeared to be on their way to a Christmas Eve function, and a holiday cake from the SUV was on the road, CHP Officer Chris Parent said.

The driver of the Ariel Atom, considered one of the fastest street-legal cars in the world, was westbound on La Orilla, near El Camino Real, at a high rate of speed when he lost control on the winding two-lane road shortly after 2 p.m., Parent said. He spun into the east bound lane and hit the SUV.

Both the driver and passenger, a 21-year-old Mira Mesa man, were wearing helmets. They were unconscious when paramedics and firefighters arrived, CHP Officer Robert Catano said.

The car was designed in 1996 and was first constructed in the United States in 2006. About 80 Ariel Atoms have been made in the United States since then; TMI Auto Tech has produced them since 2008. Most sell for about $80,000. The tubular skeleton is on the outside of the car with no side panels or roof; the car’s listed weight is 1,350 pounds and it is 11 feet long.

The car can go from zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, and is used to race in Autocrosses, with a special Race Atom series based in Virginia.

Posted by Kimberly J. Brock 1/16/15

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