It wasn’t the Fourth of July fireworks show Alan Handy and his crew at Placerville Speedway wanted. But the 125-foot line of racing fuel burning brightly on the backstretch and through Turn 3 of the quarter-mile clay oval was certainly spectacular.
Placerville’s Andy Gregg was leading the 360-cubic-inch sprint car A Main when race officials called to all racers over a one-way, onboard radio systems that a yellow caution flag was waving. Gregg slowed on the backstretch and was rear-ended by Tulare driver Shawn Wright. The force of the collision snapped the fuel cell on Gregg’s sprinter and fuel spilled onto the track.
Placerville driver CJ Humphreys drove through the spill and his car ignited the conflagration. Humphreys couldn’t see through the flames and drove into the earthen wall between the third and fourth corners. His car flipped on its side once, traveled up the wall and then flipped back over before landing on its wheels. Humphreys and Gregg were fine after the incident.
“I heard the call for the caution flag and got off the gas,” Gregg said. “I guess Shawn didn’t hear it because suddenly there was a jolt from behind. It was surprising how hard he hit me. I don’t think he was paying attention.”
Wright said he dislikes one-way radios and can’t hear them very well and did not see the yellow flags waving.
“I didn’t hear it or see it, and I was up against the wall in heavy traffic so there was nowhere to go,” said Wright, who races mostly at Kings Speedway in Hanford and made the trip to race at Placerville while visiting family. “I got on the brakes, but somehow my bumper got below his back bumper and hit the fuel cell.”
Wright said that after the race he apologized to Gregg.
“It should have never happened,” Gregg said. “But like everything, accidents do happen.”
Neither Gregg nor Humphreys completed the race. And for Gregg, who has not won a track championship at Placerville Speedway, the wreck prevented him from gaining on standings leader Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove. Gregg is now 57 points behind DeCaires. Mike Benson of Calistoga is third in the standings, 103 points out of the top spot, while Jake Morgan of Fair Oaks and James Sweeney of Placerville round out the top five.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Gregg. DeCaires won in a photo finish June 13, and as Gregg and DeCaires were slowing down between the first and second turns, Gregg hit DeCaires’ right rear tire and rolled several times.
To watch a video of the spectacular crash from last weekend and the aftermath, go to youtu.be/_7rrGiiCbGE.
Take out your grudges
Sacramento Raceway Park invites car owners with a need for speed to race down the quarter-mile drag strip Saturday night during its monthly Grudgefest event.
Starting at 6 p.m., drivers can race their street legal autos and motorcycles against each other to settle a grudge bet or race against the clock. There are a series of safety precautions that have to be met depending on the timed speed of the car and other criteria.
The cost to race is $35. For more info, go to sacramentoraceway.com.
Mark Billingsley: firstname.lastname@example.org