Formula One, the display window of the European and Japanese car industries, crashed at full speed at the all-American Indianapolis Motor Speedway, of all places.
Faulty tires from Michelin caused Toyota's Ralf Schumacher to crash during a practice session. Michelin then had to advise drivers it wouldn't be safe to race on its rubber. That eliminated seven of the 10 teams from the US Grand Prix.
That is the risk of sport that relies so heavily on technology.
But race fans aren't interested in excuses. The audience pays good money and expects a good show. The F1 race teams and organizers must deliver.
But in Indianapolis the sport's three main players - the International Automobile Federation (FIA), the commercial network of F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and the race teams - proved unable to solve an acute problem in the interest of the global audience.
Because of the power play between the three parties on how F1 should be run, and rigid, inflexible regulations, the race had to go on with only six cars when 20 normally participate.
Riding on Bridgestone tires, Ferrari won the race. But Bridgestone and Ferrari walked away with a hollow victory, leaving the public both puzzled and upset.
The damage goes far beyond Michelin losing face or the company's stock price dropping following the F1 embarrassment.
The European and Japanese auto industries get an image boost from the innovative, high-tech content on show in Formula One racing. When something like this happens, carmakers' credibility takes a beating, especially in the US.
"This show had nothing but losers: the public, the teams and carmakers, and the organization," said Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone's race engineer for Ferrari's F1 team.
To restore some luster to F1 racing, the entire organization needs to be restructured. Carmakers have long proposed changes. A blueprint already exists for a different series. It was drawn up by Mercedes-Benz, Renault, BMW and Honda.
A good example of how an independent body free of chronic politicking can offer a better racing event is the famous 24 hours of Le Mans.
The Le Mans organizers simply set their own rules in agreement with major entrants and keep media rights under their own control.
Peugeot's decision to return to Le Mans in 2007 with a revolutionary diesel racecar is proof that this race series works for carmakers.
Companies competing in F1 should take a close look at Le Mans. With its simpler organization and its transparent regulatory framework, Le Mans is a model for a new-and-improved F1.
E-mail Correspondent Wim Oude Weernink at .