Pattaya’s oldest race driver, sprightly 76-year-old Dr. Iain Corness, driving the Riviera/Venue Ford Escort Mk 1 (Pattaya’s oldest race car) saw his race at the Bira circuit last week come to an abrupt halt.
Hot on the heels of the first three, he experienced something all race drivers’ fear – the throttle sticking open at a critical moment on the track.
In this case, he was propelled inexorably towards and then head on, into the perimeter wall at something approaching warp speed.
He said afterwards, “My thought one millisecond before impact was this is going to hurt.” And the thought was correct!
Remembering that today’s race drivers are not buccaneers, safety is important. The Escort had a six point roll cage installed, the driver seat was reinforced and bolted to the floor and the five point racing harness was fixed to the roll cage. In the unlikely event of a crash, the driver is protected.
Came the impact and when the noise stopped, Dr. Iain undid his belts and got out of the car. Trying to stand up he collapsed on the ground beside the car. The flag marshal came running over, saying, “Mister, you OK?” The reply is unprintable.
The circuit ambulance was called and Dr. Iain was taken to the medical room. Injuries were internal, other than a bleeding laceration in the groin area. A trip to Pattaya’s main hospital, Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, was needed. There he was fully examined and the laceration closed, requiring 15 stitches. X-ray showed a fracture of the tail bone and a rib fracture along with numerous bruises that were popping up constantly as pointers towards other fractures.
Dr. Iain, being his usual stoic self, declined admission opting to go home and rest.
In retrospect, not such a clever idea as he found he was unable to get off the bed without assistance. Fortunately his children were big enough to help.
The final count was three fractures, four contusions and a severely bruised ego. Dr. Iain has never been known as a driver prone to crashing.
While time will fix the driver, the car is a different matter. The 1973 Mk 1 Ford Escort was an immaculate vehicle with many modifications (a 350 horsepower engine to start with) making it the fastest Escort round the Bira circuit. Alas, no more. Even the roll cage was distorted in the crash (estimated as 20G) and the reinforcing to the seat broken. As you read this, it has already been stripped for useable parts by the mechanics at TR Motorsport.
Naturally there have been calls from friends and family to give up racing, before he is killed; however, he is not going to. “I started motor racing in 1965 and I have no reason to stop. Motor racing is what keeps me alive!” And to show his determination, another old Mk 1 Escort has been found to take all the hot bits from the wreck!