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Following car-wrecking accident, Bob Frawley returns to the drivers' seat at Willowbank Raceway this weekend

Article Date: 20 November 2012

This Saturday at Willowbank Raceway Deception Bay drag racing veteran Bob Frawley will make his return to the drivers’ seat just two weeks after his car was destroyed in a barrel-rolling accident at Warwick Dragway.

While the 67 year old emerged unscathed from the 11 November incident – his first major crash at the wheel in more than 40 years in the sport - his championship-winning dragster was not so lucky.

Thanks to an offer from fellow drag racing identity Roger Radford however the well-liked racer will not be sidelined for this weekend’s Sportsman event at Queensland’s premier drag racing facility; instead taking to the track in the Knijff Earthmoving Modified category aboard Radford’s ‘altered’ dragster.

“I said to Roger, ‘are you sure you trust me with it after last weekend’? He said to me, ‘it took you quite a while to have your first big crash, so I think we will be right!’” laughed Frawley, whose son Graeme regularly competed in the wrecked car taking numerous championship victories over the years.

“We have known Roger for a long time and the car he is lending me is one that my son has been using in Modified on and off this year, but with Graeme away for work at the moment it is free for me to use.

“I really have to thank Roger for keeping me out of the role of spectator this weekend. I haven’t driven an altered since around 1980 but they aren’t that much different from what I am used to, so I will just see how I go.”

At the time of the incident, Frawley was taking on Kelly Corbett in the final round of the 2012 JP Racing Eighth Mile Drag Racing Series, when a large gust of wind came across the track from the right and affected both cars.

In the left lane Frawley hit the wall on his left side, deflating the tyre and causing the car to make a right hand turn towards Corbett, who having also been affected by the gust was to the left (closest to Frawley) of her lane. With a collision almost certain, Frawley made the decision to swerve, seeing his high-powered machine barrel-roll multiple times.

“Everything was progressing as usual for the run and we were coming near to the finish line at probably around 130 miles per hour when the car moved across to the left. I tried to keep it off the wall but I couldn’t, it hit, the tyre deflated and the car did a right hand turn towards Kelly,” said Frawley.

“The brakes weren’t working real well on the deflated wheel and the car was bouncing as it was heading towards Kelly so I had to make the split-second decision on what to do – I couldn’t go right as the car was unresponsive so I went left and as it was bouncing on the right rear tyre it just grabbed the track and I flipped over.

“The first roll was like slow motion, but then the roll cage dug into the ground and it just took off.  I still am not sure how many rolls I did but it was quite a few, I would say at least five. The noise was pretty incredible even in the helmet, just crash after crash after crash, it was a relief to come to a stop.”

In a testament to the safety of the sport and its vehicles, while the dragster was deemed a write-off, Frawley was able to exit the machine unscathed. The Modified bracket - which features the most high-powered vehicles of the Series with a light-weight body making it more susceptible to wind than other race brackets - was later called off in light of the conditions.

“While the chassis of the car was destroyed, I came out without a scratch and just a couple of bruises from the seatbelts and so on,” said Frawley.

“The dragster did everything it was designed to do in that situation - the cockpit stayed intact, the seat belts did their job, even the fuel tank which was designed and built by my friend Marcus Telford did its job and did not leak while I was sitting there upside down. You don’t think about these little things until something happens, but everything worked as it was supposed to and it is just further proof of the safety of our sport.

“The officials were on the spot right away, I really have to thank them for their assistance and my friend Peter Whitbourne who had raced just before me and helped me get my helmet and the belts off so I could slide out of the upside down car.

“After they picked me up the ambulance gave me a good check over. They were happy to see there were no marks on my helmet and I was completely coherent and in the clear.

“Kelly was a bit upset, I can imagine watching me roll past her and land upside down and facing the wrong way wouldn’t have been much fun for her, but we were both okay in the end and that is the main thing.”

Heading into the event Frawley and Corbett were battling it out for the Modified title with just one point separating the pair. Given the cancellation, the title was awarded based on the existing point score with Frawley taking the win and Corbett claiming the runner-up trophy.

“We were parked up next to each other in the pits and just one point apart heading into the weekend, and then by coincidence we undertook that qualifying run together,” said Frawley.

“I was a bit taken aback taking the win after such an incident and in light of the cancellation, but that is just how it happens sometimes and I think I put in a pretty good showing across the season.  It was a nice although bittersweet feeling following the events of the day!”

One person in particular happy to be able to congratulate him on his win was Corbett, who after slowing her own dragster to a stop could hear the sounds of the wreck in progress while she held her breath that he would be okay.

“It certainly was pretty scary to hear the noise of the crash behind me as I came to a stop and watched Bob roll past me before landing upside down and the wrong way around about five meters away from me,” said Corbett.

“As soon as he came to a stop I jumped out of my car and called out to him, I was so relieved to hear his voice and then to see him come out of the car unhurt.

“It is heart braking to see a car like that go the way it did, but at the end of the day I was so happy to see Bob get the all clear from the medical team. It really is a testament to the safety of our sport that in an incident such as this the driver can emerge without injury.

“I am just glad that he is okay and I am looking forward to seeing him out at Willowbank Raceway this weekend.”

This weekend’s Sportsman event at Willowbank Raceway will host racing from the Knijff Earthmoving Modified, Powercruise Super Sedan, Prime Signs/Speed Elect Super Street, Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson Modified Bike, Donnelly Blasting Services Junior Dragster and Super Gas categories.

 For more information on this weekend’s event or a full season event calendar, please vis. Willowbank Raceway is Queensland’s premier drag racing facility, located 45 minutes from Brisbane or just a short drive from Ipswich, offering a year-round program of events for the entire family. For more information and a full event calendar, please visit www.willowbankraceway.com.au

Racing from: Knijff Earthmoving Modified, Powercruise Super Sedan, Prime Signs/Speed Elect Super Street, Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson Modified Bike, Donnelly Blasting Services Junior Dragster and Super Gas

Adults: $20.00
Students with ID: $18.00
Children 13 years and under gain free entry

Gates open 9.00am
Qualifying from 1.00pm to 5.30pm
Racing from 6.00pm
Please check www.willowbankraceway.com.au for full up-to-date scheduling information


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