Motor racing can be dangerous

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In the early 1990’s, and just for some fun, I was racing in the Isuzu Gemini one-make series in Australia.  Inoffensive little Gemini’s with a top speed of around 160 kph.  How could that hurt me?  After all, by this stage we had roll cages, special fireproof race suits, six-point harnesses, the works.  In answer to my wife who suggested that perhaps at my age I was “past it” I replied that the car was so slow compared to what I had been driving, that I could step out going down the straight and I wouldn’t hurt myself.  I was about to prove that statement totally incorrect!

At the very next race I was nudged into the fence on the back straight and as I lightly touched the Armco, I thought, “I’m going to break a headlight here.”  I had no sooner generated that thought when there was an almighty bang and when I managed to focus my eyes again, I was sitting backwards in the middle of the track and there were licks of orange going across my eyes, and the interior mirror started to melt.  I was in the middle of an inferno, and what’s more, the car was so twisted, the doors would not open.

I was sitting in that! I was sitting in that!

You get around one minute in a fireproof suit to get out and I used that just to kick the door open, to be met with more flames, but rolling myself into a ball I was able to roll through and out of the fire.

I was lucky, burns to my back, face, no eyebrows or eyelashes left and severe bruising.  What had happened was another car had rear-ended me doing 160 kph, climbing so far into my car he went over the rear axle, pushing the fuel tank through the back seat and the fuel exploding.