Porsche Pays $360k to Settle Carrera GT Lawsuit

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
porsche pays 360k to settle carrera gt lawsuit

At a Ferrari Owners Club (FOC) track day at the California Speedway, Lamborghini owner Corey Rudl is sidelined by his car's cooling problems. When Rudl admires Ben Keaton's Porsche Carrera GT (CGT), Keaton offers to show Rudl what the German supercar can do. As the Porsche speeds around the track, a flagman waves a Ferrari onto the front straight. The driver hesitates. The flagman tries to stop the Ferrari. Keaton CGT swerves to avoid the slow-going Italian exotic. The CGT hits a concrete barrier at approximately 145mph. Both men are killed. Rudl's widow files a lawsuit against various parties. Sports Car Market reveals the $4.5m settlement, as follows. Ben Keaton's estate (49 percent): "Keaton was warned about the handling problems with the CGT, ignored his mechanic’s advice, and invited Rudl for a ride without mentioning the problems. California Speedway and the track organizers (41 percent): "The pit-out design… brought the drivers onto the track in the middle of the straightaway and the pit-out driver’s view of the straightaway was completely blocked by a guardrail." The FOC "allowed [Keaton] to sign his own tech inspection form stating that the car was fine." Porsche (eight percent): "…one engineer testified that Porsche did not think that its PSM system would work on the CGT because the car’s frame structure and suspension mountings would create strong vibrations that would interfere with its operation. The other engineer testified that PSM was not offered because the customers didn’t want it." The Ferrari driver (two percent): "the Ferrari entered the track too slowly, forcing Keaton to evade him."

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  • Jaje Jaje on Oct 25, 2007

    Virtual Insanity: Gateway is kinda dangerous - however if you have no fear you can go fast there - and the fastest line is almost hitting the wall in certain turns. Watkins Glen has several walls but they are angled so that if you do happen to hit them you are vectored along the wall rather than head on. Physics just work that way for some reason. However there are always those who should not be behind the wheel of a car going at speed - the Darwin Awardees - as you can't protect them from themselves. Before I leave this planet I will drive Laguna Seca, the Nordschliefe (several times), for some strange reason I want to drive at Suzuka and Spa (the mountainous winding tracks).

  • Jeff Puthuff Jeff Puthuff on Oct 25, 2007

    I was the editor of the second edition Corey Rudl's book "Car Secrets Revealed" and remember him as a very cool guy. He was driven and fearless and later went on to become one of the first e-mail spam kings. He was from Canada, BTW.

  • Edgett Edgett on Oct 25, 2007

    virtual insanity - The four BMWCCA track events I have attended included excellent instruction and the emphasis was on spending a weekend honing driving skills without bending yours, or anyone else's machinery. The 335 is no supercar today (although it would blow away virtually anything built 30 years ago), but I was glad that it was not the first car I had tracked. And it is still a pleasure to get out with a bunch of people who are willing to learn to handle a car under more extreme conditions than pushing the pedal to the floor on an open stretch of freeway. The argument I was making was that once you get out of the basic fwd low power econobox "standard", all cars have individual handling characteristics that need learning. I learned to drive on a rear-engined, rwd Renault with in it's best state of tune put 50 hp out of 950 cc's, and learned the evils of 40-60 weight bias and swing axles at a young age. I got into a "vintage" '67 GTO several years ago and was shocked at the lack of directional stability and rotten brakes; not state-of-the-art in 1967, but even scarier today. I'm not sure how you educate people that it is worth their lives to learn how to deal with the differences in handling between dad's Buick sedan and mom's Explorer, but the number of roll-overs says that we're not doing a very good job. If we had a terrorist event every year that took out 44,000 people, I'm guessing that reducing those deaths by even 10% would be a priority, but driving - hell anyone can drive! Robert - I hear what you're saying about the CGT; no doubt you recall the 911's of the mid-'70s to early '80s, cars that would get you into the same jam as my 50 hp Renault but could easily be well into triple digits when you found yourself going backwards. The CGT is an extreme car, and it is entirely possible that Porsche should have made the handling more benign; they did not and I'm not sure it is their job to tell the owner that he damned well better learn how to deal with the car before he goes really fast in it. As I noted about modern liter bikes, they are unbelievably competent machines, but far too many riders are killed going off the road when they are riding far beyond their capabilities simply because the 160 hp, 370 pound machine makes it so easy to do so. I will say that it would help a great deal if the buff books were more forthcoming when they discover poisonous handling characteristics in a car, whether it is a Porsche or a Jeep on the other end. If you really want to scare yourself sometime, go rent a 34 foot motorhome and remember as you're sawing on the wheel just to keep the damn thing in its lane that many of the drivers are probably only marginally competent in a 4 cyl Accord. Then again, that's another TTAC editorial...

  • SwiftDB4 SwiftDB4 on Nov 08, 2007

    This kind of lawsuit should be troubling to all of us that drive in track days. Have any of you considered that as individuals it is unlikely that you have any liability insurance coverage for these kind of suits? Neither your umbrella liability policy, your auto insurance,or the organizer's policy will cover you for track days. In other words we are all NAKED concerning lawsuits and attorney's fees. As a former Trans Am, IMSA, and Formula Atlantic racer I can't believe this. The next step will be lawsuits among participants at full racing sanctioned events. Signing legal waivers for racing should be binding PERIOD! We are all adults, no one forces you to race, and it is inheritantly DANGEROUS. You can argue back and forth about driver errors, track negligence, and auto manufacturer defects. Opening the door with these kind of lawsuits will eventually kill track days. Why is the U.S. the only country with this insanity??