We have all heard about how Stevie Fast took flight at No Mercy VII almost a month ago now. You have all seen the video of Shadow taking flight and wrecking. What you may not pay attention to is the fact that Stevie walked away pretty unscathed.
A year previous to the accident that Stevie suffered, the was an accident involving Lyle Barnett, in which he was burned on his hands, feet, face, etc. This was what some in the industry considered a wake up call. For Stevie, that's exactly what Lyle's accident was. It was an opportunity for him to set an example for everyone else out there.
I will be the first to say, I haven't gone 200 mph in a radial car, I haven't flown through the air on a 200 mph pass, and I have never had the fear of dealing with a fire in a race car. If you talk to drivers though, almost all will tell you that a fire is one of the scariest things you will ever experience. Imagine if you will, being strapped into your bathtub, full gear and there's a fire around you. You have to figure out how to get out and chances are that comes after an explosion, flip, or some other impact.
We cover a lot of races every year, and you would not believe the amount of drivers in almost every class from 632 and Ultra, all the way up to Pro Mod that don't even bother to put their face shield down during a run. I have to wonder to myself, what's the point of even having a full face helmet then? Why would you have the ability to protect your face and decide not to?
Back to Stevie though. I watched as Stevie drove right passed me. I was shooting the other lane. As I turned I watched as Shadow climbed and climbed up in the air. When you are a photographer, at least for me, it's like you are watching everything in slow motion. I saw the car go up, twist, and come back down. All we could think about along the wall at first was if Stevie was ok. Once we got the word that he was, you feel a lot better.
Having seen Stevie race time after time before, he very well may just be the most talented wheel man that I have ever watched, so to see the car take flight was something I never expected. I also knew that Stevie had stepped up his safety game and when you combine skill with safety it does make a difference.
What can be said for all of this though? I think all of you drivers need to start looking at your safety programs and step it up. Talk to Lyle, talk to Stevie and find out how much of a difference it makes. I don't care if you don't like having your face shield down. Do you like your sight? It's not there just for fire, it's there when you blow your stuff up and it keep debris out of your face. Stevie walked, or ran away from his crash. Look at the photos that Ellen took and it will show you the heat that car was exposed to. Just another reason to get with the program when it comes to your safety.