Like he would on any race day, Greg Beebe was just running a few warm-up laps at Wisconsin’s Madison International Speedway on Sunday morning. He hadn’t even fully opened up the throttle to see what his race car had. He’d turned three laps while just scrubbing in his tires. Everything seemed to be routine during this round of Mid-American Stock Car Series practice. Until it wasn’t.
Beebe, 52, went into turn one and his car went straight, and it didn’t slow down either. He slammed into the thick foam blocks that serve as a cheaper version of a SAFER Barrier. Beebe plowed the blocks, then went up and over the wall, coming to a stop just outside of the race track on top of the wall. The front end of his No. 98 was completely destroyed. Beebe, however, was okay.
“Sadly, I took a hit like that last year into the foam at Slinger Speedway,” Beebe told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “In that hit my sway bar cut the right front tire. As I came around the corner I hit the foam there and had the same kind of crash last year.
“This one didn’t really hurt that bad. It just happened so fast and I was kind of in disbelief like ‘There’s no way I’m hitting the wall. I’m not even going that fast.’ When I realized I was going to hit the wall I thought this one was going to hurt, but I hit the foam and climbed out and thought, ‘Wow, that one didn’t really hurt at all.’”
On Sunday, Beebe told Speed51 that his throttle stuck. On Monday, we took a look at in-car camera footage from Beebe’s car. We noticed that his RPM’s came down quite a bit before he made impact with the foam blocks, which is something that doesn’t happen when a throttle hangs open.
“It happened so fast that I don’t know,” Beebe said on Monday. “That’s what it seemed like to me, but I don’t know.”
Beebe tried to replay the incident in his head since he has yet to watch the video for himself. He noted that he was behind another car trying to follow the line of that driver through the corner as they worked their warm-up laps.
“My buddy was in front of me and he’s a real experienced driver,” said Beebe. “I was following his line and his speed. We went into the turn and I went in a little slower than him. I just got between one and two and it seemed like when I went off the throttle it wouldn’t slow down. It wouldn’t turn. It just happened in a flash. I haven’t seen the video yet so I can’t verify whether it was a stuck throttle or not. That’s what it seemed like to me. It just didn’t seem to slow down and I tried to turn left and it wouldn’t turn. I started going to the wall and then it was over.”
Beebe said he has yet to have a chance to look over his car to see if something broke to cause the crash, rather than the throttle sticking. For now, Beebe still believes that was the reason behind the incident.
“Until I see otherwise, that’s what I think happened,” he said.
One thing that Beebe is sure of, though, is that he’s lucky to be completely unharmed after that crash.
“I have a full containment seat, new belts, a new HANS, and I already thanked Greg McKarns from the ARCA Midwest Tour for having that foam there,” Beebe said. “I hate to think what would have happened if there wasn’t foam there. I don’t know how thick the foam was. Probably four feet by four feet. That absorbed a lot of the impact. The car is junk, but as far as me, I don’t know I used to race snowmobiles and dirt bikes so maybe I’ve taken a lot of abuse, because that didn’t hurt that bad. It made for dramatic pictures though. Just expensive to fix.”
The in-car footage from Beebe’s crash is available to watch on the Speed51 Network here: http://speed51.com/racing-videos/
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Bruce Nuttleman/Speed51.com