This past weekend something happened at California’s Perris Auto Speedway for the first time in the more than 20-year history of the dirt oval. A Sprint Car flipped over the catch-fencing and out of the race track.
Austin Williams went into turn one on his qualifying lap, hit a bump, the car dug in and started to tumble. It then hit in such a way that the car was propelled up and over the 22-feet tall catch-fence. Williams’ machine hit the top of the fence and then dropped down to the ground on its roll-cage.
Now a few days after the wild tumble, Williams still has trouble believing just how much air he actually got.
“Someone showed me that picture of me way up above the fence,” Williams told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I didn’t even know I was up that high. I also didn’t know I was on the other side of the fence until I saw dry dirt. I then assumed from that point I was on the other side of the fence.”
Williams explained the crash step-by-step on Tuesday morning.
“I knew I was in trouble when it picked up the left side (of the car) that high,” he said. “I had no time to save it. I looked out the right side and I could see dirt. I knew it was over. That first hit, I was waiting for it to hit and it hit real quick. That was the one that launched me over the fence. There was a long period of time of silence, and that’s never good. I was waiting for it to make some more noise and finally it landed on the top. That drop from the top of the fence down onto my head was what really hurt.”
While Williams unbelievably said he’s had worse crashes and worse injuries, he said this one still left him feeling pretty sore.
“My knees got banged up,” he said. “That’s the worst part of it. With any crash in a Sprint Car you’ll bang your knees up a bit if you don’t have the right protection in there.”
However, Williams knows that the extent of his injuries could have been a lot more than just soreness to his knees if not for the change that he made just a couple of weeks ago.
“I just got a full containment seat a couple weeks ago,” said Williams. “I used to run a normal wrap-around-the-ribs seat with no containment at my head or shoulders. That seat saved my ass I think. Usually with the other seat I’d always hurt my ribs, but I had that custom seat made and it really helped me out.”
Williams also added that he was lucky to escape injury to his arms after losing his grip on his steering wheel.
“It knocked the steering wheel out of my hands,” he said. “By the time I hit the fence I got my hands back on the steering wheel. That was my main goal, because if you let go of the steering wheel your hands can come out the top of the car and you’ll really hurt your arms. So I got my hands back on the wheel and then I was just waiting for it to hit again because I knew I was probably still up in the air.”
While many race car drivers want to be the first to accomplish almost everything, not many want to be the first to flip out of a race track. Williams certainly didn’t, but he said it was almost fitting that he’s the one that gets that title.
“I’ve been going to that track since it was opened,” Williams said. “My uncle designed it and built it. I remember as a kid when I was six years old I’d go there with my dad and we’d watch my uncle work the track. We’d sit on the frontstretch wall. I’ve been there my whole life. I’ve seen some pretty crazy crashes, but I’ve never seen anyone get over the fence.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Vane Ledgerwood