Willowbank News and Media
LUCKY ESCAPE FOR OUTLAW DRIVERS AT WINTERNATIONALS
Article Date: 11 June 2010
Supercharged Outlaws competitors Neil Murphy of Kippa Ring and Paul Stephen of Raby in New South Wales have had a lucky escape at Willowbank Raceway today when their vehicles collided in a spectacular crash.
Today is day two of the Castrol EDGE Winternationals, and the incident came during the second round of qualifying for the Outlaws bracket, with both drivers emerging unscathed from the incident which drew gasps from the crowd.
Murphy and his Mustang were in the left lane while Stephen and his Altered dragster were in the right lane,and when Stephen experienced issues following leaving the startline he chose to shut off the car and roll to a stop close to the wall of his lane.
Murphy meanwhile left the startline and after lifting off the throttle due to experiencing a large amount of tyre shake, lost control of his machine with it turning hard right and crossing into Stephen’s lane, colliding with his stationary dragster as the car lifted in a incident that had everyone holding their breath.
With Stephen’s dragster pushed along the wall, Murphy’s Mustang continued down the strip to come to rest back in the left hand lane. Following their incident, the drivers, both obviously disappointed with what had happened, explained just what it was like from the driver’s seat.
“It was a pretty big incident, I was rolling along after shutting the car off and I heard Murphy coming from behind me…but I am unhurt except from some bruising,” said Stephen.
“The car did exactly what it was supposed to do and while it is a complete right-off and there will be a lot of work to be done before we can be back on the track, it did its job in keeping me safe – the only bars on the car that aren’t bent are the roll cage!
“We will be back though, we love this sport, we were born into it so you can’t keep us away!”
Neil Murphy explained what it was like from his point of view.
“Following our launch we had massive tyre shake so I got off the throttle and it just dug in, turned right and unfortunately straight towards Paul’s dragster,” said Murphy.
“For both of our cars to be wrecked is something no body wants, but at the same time I am completely unhurt and the car did exactly what it was supposed to do to keep me safe, so we can be happy about that.”
Willowbank Raceway Managing Director Steve Bettes said the incident was proof of the safety of the cars and of the sport.
“From time to time freak incidents like today occur, but each time it is proven that these cars are built for safety and the fact that Stephen and Murphy have walked away today with relatively no injuries is testament to that,” said Bettes.
“While it is so sad to see the state of the cars and the work now ahead of their teams, we are just so happy that both drivers are unhurt.”
Following a small break to race-ready the track following today’s incident, the Castrol EDGE Winternationals have continued today, with the first two of four qualifying rounds for the Professional categories set to be completed before racing finishes at around 8.00pm tonight.
Saturday will see everyone return for an 8.30am start with the Pro categories on track from 11.30am, including racing by V8 Supercar stars Greg Murphy and Russell Ingall for the Castrol EDGE V8 Supercar Shootout. Saturday will conclude at 7.00pm before Sunday’s finals day starts from 8.00am with Pro Series eliminations from 10.00am, with racing expected to conclude at 4.00pm (all Finals from 3.00pm).
The Castrol EDGE Winternationals is the largest drag racing event outside of the US and is the season finale for the 2009/2010 ANDRA Pro Series season. For more information, schedules or to purchase tickets, please visit www.willowbankraceway.com.au
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