HORSEHEADS, N.Y. — This space is often a place for my own soapbox of dirt topics, but in talking with a local dirt racer this past week, I found a serious message that needs to spread sooner rather than later.
Regardless of what division a driver or team races in, the message of driver safety needs to come back into focus and taken seriously.
Adam DelGrosso, 32, is a local dirt track racer from Horseheads who fields and races a four cylinder front wheel drive entry at Outlaw and Woodhull Raceways. DelGrosso is the definition of a ‘budget racer’ and races within his team’s means at their local short tracks.
This team isn’t racing at the top level of the sport of auto racing, but they recently were reminded that you don’t have to be competing at the sport’s top level to be injured in racing.
DelGrosso was competing in the four cylinder division at Outlaw Speedway on July 7 when he was involved in a terrible crash that fractured a vertebra in his back. He was racing toward the front of the field, competing for a win in the division, when two cars got together and crashed into the outside wall turn four, a solid concrete barrier.
One car bounced back out into traffic and clipped DelGrosso’s right rear tire, sending him careening head-on into the frontstretch wall. DelGrosso’s No. 11 climbed the wall, did a spin in the air and came crashing back down on all four tires at essentially the same time.
The energy from the collision transferred up through the frame and his seat, which is welded to the frame of the car. That energy was passed through DelGrosso’s back, causing a compression fracture of one of his thoracic vertebrae.
As soon as the accident was over, DelGrosso knew there was a problem.
“I felt an immediate pain in the center of my back and I knew I was in trouble,” said DelGrosso. “The safety team was right there to help and had to cut the roll cage in the car and peel the roof off the car to safely get me out and stabilize my spine on a backboard.”
His racing season was over, but that became secondary because his life was about to change for the next few weeks and months to come. Daily tasks that we take for granted became an extreme challenge; even picking up his baby boy (who is less than a year old) became a struggle.
It’s during those moments that the realities of being hurt in a race car come to light and slap you across the face.
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