Indianapolis 500 fan whose car was hit by flying tire gets Brickyard visit, ride home

The 107th edition of the Indianapolis 500 was a wild one, and no one knows that better than Robin Matthews.

A major crash involving Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood sent a tire flying over the track fence, narrowly avoiding the crowd of fans Sunday. Instead, it landed right on Matthews' car.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles came to the rescue, racing to the scene in a golf cart with state troopers and alerting fans to stay away, according to Rich Nye of WTHR-TV.

Once the situation was assessed and the race ended in Josef Newgarden's first Indy500 victory, Boles invited Matthews to the Brickyard and arranged for a car to take her home.

The iconic start/finish line is named for its 36-inch strip of bricks, which comes with a longstanding tradition. Matthews kneeled down and kissed the surface, as the winning driver and their team do in celebration.

"My car's name is Snowball," she said in an interview with Nye. "She took one for the team!"

The impact resulted in damage to the radiator and lights on the driver's side of Matthews' white Chevrolet Cruze. Ultimately, she was concerned for everyone's safety.

One person was struck by debris but not the tire. They were checked in the infield care center and released, according to IndyCar, via WRTV.

Fans at Turn 2 had the scariest view of the errant tire. “I was in this turn,” Indianapolis author John Green tweeted. “Hugely relieved everyone appears to be OK. Watching a wheel fly over my friends at 150 miles per hour is not an experience I’m anxious to repeat.”

Matthews, who watched from a suite, said her stomach immediately dropped when she was shown a photo of her damaged car, initially thinking she was being pranked.

Her vehicle had to be towed from the track, and she is working on getting it repaired. She's not expecting anything from IndyCar, she told Nye on Monday, but she did get a ride home in an official Indy 500 vehicle.

"I'm just thankful nobody got hurt," she said. "That would've really done some serious damage to people if it had hit them."

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 17: These Firestone Firehawk race tires are specially marked for the 107th Indianapolis 500 and were used in the first practice, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
A flying wheel took a fan's car out of commission at the Indianapolis 500. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar series owner Roger Penske echoed Matthews' sentiments via The Indianapolis Star.

"It's very concerning," he said, "We have tethers on the wheels. I know it was a rear wheel that came off, and I'm sure that the guys at IndyCar will look at it, will determine what really happened. We haven't seen a wheel come off in a long time."

The race featured some other rare occurrences, including two major crashes. In total, there were three red flags during the dramatic race, one most fans won't soon forget.