A wild crash occurred at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire on Saturday, May 30 in a 350 Supermodified race. Two cars got together on the frontstretch with one car going up and into the catch fencing that separates the race track from the spectator area. For the first time since making national headlines following the horrific crash, the driver primarily involved spoke on Tuesday to Speed51.com powered by JEGS about the incident.
“To be quite honest with you, my very first thought when I was sitting there and the EMT came up to me I asked if the flagman was okay,” said Matt Seavey, the driver of the No. 91 Supermodified that went into the fencing. “I thought we may have gotten into the flagstand, but the EMT told me the flagman was fine. Then I asked about the crowd and if they were okay. They didn’t answer me.”
(On-board view from Mike Netishen, who was following the two-car battle prior to the crash.)
Seavey’s car slammed a garbage can that was next to the fence and launched it at the first row of the grandstands. The garbage can hit a spectator in the first row. His car also sent one of the poles from the fence into the grandstands. Fortunately, everybody was fine, as Seavey eventually learned while he was being examined in the ambulance at the track.
“They had the radio in the ambulance and I could hear over the radio them saying that everybody was okay,” Seavey told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “The video shows me get up into the fence and I think I hit a trash can or something and that hit somebody in the stands. But after talking to Bobby Webber Jr. at the end of the night he told me that someone was hit but everybody was okay.”
According to Star Speedway’s owner, Bobby Webber Sr., the crash tore down close to 75 feet of fencing on the frontstretch, but in his opinion every piece of safety equipment did its job.
“It was an ugly looking thing but the fence did its job exactly as it was supposed to,” said Webber. “It acted like a net and caught the car. He took down nearly 75 feet of fence, but there were no injuries. Two spectators had minor bumps but they were fine. They didn’t want to be transported or anything.
“And both drivers were fine too. The drivers are pretty well protected and that was shown again this time. They were both fine and the safety crew did a tremendous job getting to the drivers quickly.”
This wasn’t the first time Webber, who also owns Hudson International Speedway (NH), had seen an incident like this. He chalked the crash up to the nature of this type of racing.
“It’s the nature of open wheel racing,” Webber said. “They’re running hard, they’re running tight and they touch wheels. Even at Indy it happens.”
Even with a large stretch of fencing ripped out, Star Speedway was able to finish its racing program that night. Webber explained that the track just moved all spectators out of that area so that they’d still be protected.
“We just pulled the fence back off the track and took everybody out of the grandstands in that section,” Webber said. “The police moved them all over to the sections before the flagstand. It wasn’t a packed grandstand so we were able to move them all out. There was no fence in that section, just the wall. But there was nobody in that section so it was okay. There was no danger. The police approved it and it went fine. It was 20 minutes and we were back racing, which was quite a feat. We got back racing and we were still out of there by 10 p.m.”
The incident occurred when Seavey made contact with the No. 55 of Billy Osborne as they battled for second-place off turn four. Seavey’s left side tires went over the top of Osborne’s right side tires resulting in Seavey getting airborne.
“Going into three I went to the outside of him and got halfway up his car at the center of the corner,” Seavey said. “He left the hole open again so I filled it. I don’t know if he couldn’t see me or he couldn’t hear me but we got together and, well, you were able to see the end result.”
As violent as the crash appeared, Seavey said it was not the worst wreck he’s ever had.
“I’ve been in a few others that were pretty bad,” Seavey said. “I’ve rolled Supers before. I’ve hit the wall hard a couple of times at other race tracks. This didn’t ring my bell or anything like that. It was just more of a ‘what the hell’ feeling.”
Seavey fully expects to have his No. 91 ready to race again this season, even though for a little while it didn’t appear like that could happen.
“Initially when it was sitting in the trailer, my first thought was we were pretty much done for the year,” Seavey said. “But on Sunday I got it in the garage and started taking parts off it. By mid-afternoon I had every part off of it. Hopefully we’ll be back on the track by the first of August. We want to have the car ready for the Star Classic in September.”
For Webber, he’s just happy that everything turned out as well as it did considering the situation.
“It was a scary situation, especially when it initially happened,” Webber said. “But everything came out very good.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Dave McGuire
-Video Credit: Thomas Netishen