Maury Z. Levy

Posts Tagged ‘formula v racing’

Drive, She Said

In WomenSports magazine on September 1, 2009 at 5:07 pm

3262517956_be1459f4e7She hit the guard rail and her car broke and her neck snapped and she spun around facing the wrong way with the other cars coming at her at 125 miles an hour. She couldn’t move and her head was heavy and all she could think about was maybe that her brain was bleeding.

For Glenna Sacks, who is 26, and a female, and a race car driver, it was the quick end to a tough weekend at Watkins Glen. She had run on Saturday in her Formula V, a sleek sliver of custom fiberglass with the large parts of a Volkswagen underneath. She was having a few problems with the car, a little sputtering and funny noises, so she took it easy, just aiming to finish, and she ended up in the middle of the pack.

And then Sunday came. She and her husband Jon had been working on the car all night. They figured they had everything in order and that now she could take it out and really open it up. When the green flag dropped, she was the leader of the pack. She put her right foot on the floor and firmly moved the steering wheel around the twists and the turns of a very precise road racing course.

The car was humming through the first four laps. Glenna Sacks kept looking in her mirror to watch the pack of men trying to catch her, and she kept pulling away and she felt very good. Then, on the fifth lap, in the first turn, something went very badly wrong. It was all very quick. She heard a snap and felt a pop and the steering wheel was oatmeal. She never made it through the very tight turn. She started falling pretty badly and then she started spin­ning until she got to the top outside where her car hit two rows of corrugated steel and pushed them back three yards.

She knew she had pretty much wrecked her car, but she didn’t know what was wrong with herself. She couldn’t move much. She felt stiff and broken and she had this strange pain in her head; that’s what worried her most. She had watched the heads of other race car drivers, in similar straights, bleed and hemorrhage and clot. And she was scared because she didn’t know what to think.

“These thoughts,” she says, “all come whizzing into your head in no particular order. Things flash by. Maybe your whole life. My first thought was that I could look over my shoulder out of the corner of my eye and see that I was far enough in front of the guys behind me that they probably weren’t going to pile in and demolish me.

“This was when I was still spinning. It really hadn’t hit me yet that I was going to crash. I started thinking, ‘Damn, they’re going to catch up to me and pass me.’ Then I started spinning around and around and just a fraction of a second before I went into the guard rail I realized I was going to hit it. And I was terrified for a split second because I knew it was going to hurt a lot. And it was really going to damage my car. And it did. And it knocked me cold. And I came to in the middle of the track, crosswise and other cars were flying by me and I was stunned. I couldn’t move. I figured, my God, I broke my neck. And I tried to wiggle my fingers and they wiggled and the cars kept flying by. And my toes wiggled so I knew I hadn’t broken my neck. But I knew 1 had broken something because I really hurt a lot.   Read the rest of this entry »

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