Recently Pro Alcohol’s Craig Glassby had one of the biggest moments in his drag racing career at the Maximum Thrust Grand Final event at Perth Motorplex.
Traveling at over 265mph at around the 1200ft mark, the “compound ratio” that he runs in the gearbox failed and literally cut the gearbox off the clutch-can.
With pieces of gear set and the planetary exiting the box (the angle was sufficient enough to let them get past the safety blanket) Craig was being peppered by shrapnel and hot oil.
A large piece went through the windscreen and blew it out, whilst other pieces were taking parts of the car body and roof with them on their exit of the vehicle. As the windscreen was now completely gone, the air pressure blew the roof hatch out and Craig says he instantly felt like he was “on a wild blind ride”. With only the tiniest bit of vision available out of his now oil-covered visor, he could see the wall and used that as a guide to stay in his lane.
To further exacerbate the issue, the gearbox had separated from the clutch-can but was still attached to the tailshaft, and was flying around at about 9000rpm, smashing Craig’s leg and foot into the chassis rail.
This pounding on his lower body didn’t stop until the car came to a complete stop, but his foot was then trapped between the chassis rail and the broken gearbox.
Craig shares with us that as soon as the car came to a stop the IHRA & Perth Motorplex staff were beside him. “They had seen the car was in trouble for the last part of the run. I was stuck in the car, the gearbox had my foot pinned, and they were really good at listening to me and making sure I was okay, and also taking on board what I needed them to do.”
“I told them to rock the car so the gearbox would move and free up my foot. There were great, really looking after me and my car, it wasn’t like a mad dash, damaging stuff to get to me, all the while talking to me to make sure I was comfortable and okay. I told them I think I’ve broken my leg. They were really good getting me out.”
Whilst he was being attended to by the medical staff the IHRA crew & track staff rolled up the chutes and got his car safely off the track without him having to worry about anything other than getting looked after. He said their approach to the whole crash was professional and he felt that he and his car were both in good hands.
Once it was confirmed that his leg was broken, and other necessary checks had been carried out, the medical staff took him back to the Medical Centre for a good hour or so checking him again and monitoring his blood pressure and other vitals.
Once he was released from the medical centre and bandaged up Craig returned to his pit where IHRA tech inspectors met with him. “They had been inspecting the car since its return to our pit. The team removed the broken gearbox and the damaged body and then the IHRA tech team took heaps of photos and inspected the vehicle. A lot of time was spent looking at all areas by the guys.”
“We are really happy that our car is as up to date as possible with the highest regard to safety, with things like a 7 point harness, the latest body release systems, and the newest parts we can source, so the IHRA guys were really happy with our car. It all came down to the compound ratios are now at the outer limits of our engine program’s horsepower.”
He went on to share “We have come to the conclusion that the compound or double ratio that we have been using is not the one to use moving forward for us with the horsepower, speeds and RPM we are doing. Track staff members Rod Britton and Kevin Prendergast checked on me throughout the evening after trophy presentations etc, as well as on Monday morning. Kevin emailed me and attached all of the IHRA insurance forms and said that as soon as I felt able to complete them he would have someone come and pick them up and get the whole process underway.”
“In 35 years of racing I haven’t experienced anything like this incident, and it was awesome that I didn’t have to think about anything. Everything was handled. I have walked away with a broken leg but not a worry about ‘why isn’t this happening or why hasn’t that happened’. Everything was looked after for me. To be brutally honest the IHRA tech inspection and safety procedures are of a world-class standard, to the extent that they’d sonic tested every single part of my Chassis for thickness earlier this year when we had our Tech inspection. The cars are weighed and fuel checked every single run. These are state-of-the-art procedures and standards.”
IHRA, together with the tracks have monitored and keep the safety standards and insurances up where they belong and have been impeccable in everything they have done.
Craig is happy to say “I’ve had multiple people ring me and ask me questions around how it was all handled, as it seemed to be high on the concern’s-list for some racers when it came to swapping over to IHRA. We all knew that an incident and a racer getting hurt would be the real test of IHRA safety in Australia. Well, it happened to me. I was hurt, and I walked away feeling like I was looked after and everything that could have been done was. I also received calls from Tony Wedlock and Maurice Allen since my crash, to make sure I really was okay.”
“Yes the incident was a crappy experience because I have a broken race car and a broken leg. But both of those things will be fixed. I had the best outcome I could have wished for from such an experience.” Craig proudly says “Prior the car have performed immaculately with laps of 5.49, 5.42, 5.40, 5.38!”
Craig’s plan at this stage is to hopefully be ready and well enough to run the upcoming 400 Thunder City of Ipswich Winternationals. If they are not ready in time, they “will be running the whole 400 Thunder series next season”.
With this type of enthusiasm and trust around the IHRA safety system we’re thrilled that Craig cannot wait to get back in the car. With both Craig and the car nearing repair, we too hope he makes it to Willowbank for the June 9-12 event. We will be bringing you further posts about Craig’s health and the car’s progress in the lead up to the Winters.