Automobile racing has always been one of the most, and exciting sports that has ever been viewed by the many fans who attend these weekly speed contests. The chance of the inevitable happening follows each driver lap after lap, as they compete for the right to be named as the best on that given day or night. Along with the thrill of watching each driver posses the skill it takes to maneuver their high speed vehicles in this competitive game of cat and mouse, also comes the risk of pushing the envelope a little too far which can and usually ends in a misfortune accident.
[media-credit name=”Bobby Kimbrough” align=”alignright” width=”217″][/media-credit]Whether it be at one of the many local short tracks around the country, or the highly visible NASCAR touring series, the risk these drivers put themselves in for our enjoyment can almost be likened to coming face to face with the grim reaper. Accidents of any magnitude are always bone chilling and scary, since we never know to what extent the driver is hurt until they are taken from the carnage and checked out by the medical staff.
Just last season there was a 35-lap race between former NASCAR drivers, Cale Yarborough, Dave Marcis, Rick Wilson, Phil Parsons, LD Ottinger, Jack Ingram, Tommy Houston, Jimmy Hensley, Larry Pearson, David Pearson, Charlie Glotzbach, and Harry Gant. The legends race, which was run after the Scotts Turf Builder 300 Nationwide race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, was marred by a horrific crash with five laps left between 56 year-old Larry Pearson, and 71 year-old Charlie Glotzbach.
Rescue workers had to cut the top of Pearson’s No. 21 car completely off to help extricate the driver, and afterward, Pearson was airlifted to Bristol Regional Medical Center as the crowd watched with a deafening silence. Pearson suffered a compound fracture of his left ankle that required surgery that same evening, along with a fracture of his pelvis and a fractured right hand.
Ex-NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel also escaped death last season while attempting to qualify his USAC Silver Crown race car at Terre Haute Action Track in Indianapolis. Hmiel broke his neck in two places, and suffered a broken back as well and is still recovering from his injuries.
Tragedy struck again this past Saturday night during a USAC event, when 81 year-old Kenny Van Blargen, who resides in Paso Robles, California was airlifted by medical helicopter to United Medical Center in Las Vegas Saturday evening from the center field of Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, AZ. Reports indicate that Van Blargen was traveling around 25 to 35 mph in a 50 year-old Vintage Sprint open seat race car at the time of impact, because of a yellow flag when his car climbed the wheel of another car and overturned.
The accident occurred early in the evening during a heat race with about a thousand fans in attendance who witnessed the wreck. “The car had very little damage to it, and its part of racing,” said Bill Rozhon, track promoter and race director at the speedway. Rozhon also added that, “When something like this happens everybody is shocked,” Rozhon said. “When people get hurt, people are concerned … it was very gloomy here.” It took rescue workers which included two paramedics and four track-safety-clean-up guys about 30 minutes, to get Van Blargen out of the car and into the waiting helicopter for the ride to the medical center.
Rozhon said, “The River medical ambulance and the fire department responded immediately after 911 was initially called, and it took six guys to get him out.” Van Blargen was coherent and even though he had reflexes, he is still suffering from a broken neck and has a breathing tube. Rozhon, 64, said he has been around racing all his life and, as far as wrecks go, has seen some real nasty ones. “There’s no such thing as an average crash,” he said. “Things just happen. Some things are just out of our control.” Van Blargen was put in an induced coma for six days to keep him still.