COLLIER RECOVERING FROM BACK INJURY SUSTAINED IN TOPEKA CRASH
Steve Collier's plan headed into the NHRA Heartland Nationals was to focus more on the performance of the quickest car in the family's stable of race cars.
Collier qualified No. 4, running a personal best 5.375, 254.66, and after a first-round victory appeared poised to make a run deep into eliminations. After winning the first round, he advanced to the semi-finals when Monroe Guest fouled.
Collier was running hard when the car began to go into tire shake, and after pedaling the car, the front-end started to creep into the air. His dragster had a wheelie bar, so he believed the safety precaution would handle the wheelstand. Unfortunately, the car took too much air and went airborne.
The car fell violently back to the earth and slid backward through the shutdown area coming to a stop.
Emergency personnel transported Collier to Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka, where according to Drag Racing Edge, was diagnosed with broken vertebrae.
"If you’ve ever had the breath knocked out of you, that’s what it felt like," Collier told Drag Racing Edge magazine. "When my dragster came to a stop, I couldn’t breathe. The first NHRA Safety Safari guy who came to me was asking all sorts of questions, “What’s your name? Do you know where you are? Where does it hurt?” I had to tell him to rest a minute because I couldn’t breathe and I had everything I could do to get those words out. But they were great.
"It felt like I had a lot of burning and aching in my back, sort of like kidney stone pain. I wanted them to take my helmet off, but they said no, to wait. But I wasn’t waiting. Either they were going to take it off, or I was. I just wanted out of there. I was fully conscious all the time and didn’t even felt like I had bumped my head. I knew exactly what had happened."
Collier said he expects to make a full recovery, with a convalescence time of between nine and twelve weeks.