Billy Melvin’s world turned upside down during the late stages of the Modifieds of Mayhem season finale at the Snowball Derby last December. The Trussville, Alabama driver suffered a frightening crash after he spun and was hit in the driver’s side door by another driver. He was transported to a local hospital with multiple injuries, including a broken left femur, multiple pelvis fractures, a shattered left ankle, and a right leg injury.
Six months after that wreck, Melvin got back behind the wheel of a race car for the first time on Saturday night. He made his comeback in grand fashion by winning the Late Model feature at Sayre Speedway (AL), a quarter-mile bullring located 25 miles north of Birmingham as part of the Six Shot Series.
Getting back in a race car was the best feeling he could as for. After not knowing if he would ever be able to race again, winning in his first race back was special to he and his team.
“That’s the best feeling you can get,” Melvin told Speed51.com. “It’s always good to win, but to be honest, it was special. I didn’t know if I was ever gonna get to drive again. I didn’t even know if I could drive this weekend, I just didn’t know until I got there.”
Melvin’s first race back was an easy Sunday drive for him after starting up front. He led all 50 laps and went mostly unchallenged for the vast majority of the Six Shot Series race. For him, it was a good way to get back behind the wheel of a race car.
“We started up front and we stayed there,” he said. “We raced unchallenged there for the most part. It was an easy drive for us, it was an easy fifty laps. We really didn’t have to race anybody.”
Melvin says the road to recovery has not been an easy one, but is doing well despite the injuries he suffered. Saturday night’s win has made the process worth it and gives him a mental boost as he continues to heal.
It’s been tough,” he admitted. “I’m doing great for the injuries I’ve sustained, but it’s been tough. It’s been a tough road.”
Melvin has been in awe of the support he has received since the wreck at Five Flags back in December. He is thankful for the short track racing community and their gratitude, especially from the daughter of a former NASCAR driver.
“It’s been phenomenal. When I got hurt, the outpouring from everybody was just amazing,” he said. “Kristin Bonnett went above and beyond what a person should have to try to help me, along with other people. But she really went out of her way. She was trying to get into an airplane to get me back home. I just couldn’t believe how many people cared.”
Melvin will run Sayre Speedway full-time this year as he continues to heal from his injuries. He does not want to risk another wreck at a bigger track like Five Flags Speedway, and running the tight quarter-mile will help him get reacclimated behind the wheel and allow him to race while he continues to get better.
“I’m going to run the Six Shot Series this year,” he said. “I committed to that before I even thought about sitting back in the car, I said I was going to try to run that this year. We’re going to do that, but past that I have no idea. I’ve got to get better before I go back to a Speedway. I’m healed enough to get back in the car, but I don’t want to take a big wreck on a big, fast racetrack right now.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI) - Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Grand American Race Cars Facebook