Barbara Nesbitt, a Nostalgia Pro Street racer, racing under the National Muscle Car Association sanction was injured in an accident on August 8, 2010 when the driveshaft broke at the conclusion of a run at zMax Dragway located outside of Charlotte, NC.
The driveshaft entered the cockpit where it collected Nesbitt’s arm as she reached for the parachute, essentially wrapping it around the driveshaft. Nesbitt was transported to Carolinas Medical Center where she was diagnosed with a shattered elbow, three broken ribs, broken fingers, bruised lung, laceration to her liver, and contusions stretching across her entire body from her collarbone to her knees.
Last week Nesbitt filed suit, in Chicago’s Cook County Court, against the NMCA, NHRA, chassis builder Skinny Kid Race Cars and NHRA employee Ted Peters.
Nesbitt alleges the NMCA’s tech inspector, also employed by the NHRA, allowed her car to pass technical inspection and the chassis builder built the car without a drive train shield.
Only after the accident did a driveshaft shield become mandatory.
CompetitionPlus.com, having reported the incident extensively, contacted Nesbitt, who referred all questions to her attorney Dennis Mulvihill. A call to Mulvihill was not returned as of this article’s posting.
Charlie Harmon, President of the NMCA, said he was surprised when he received papers regarding the accident.
“I was surprised and I understand,” said Harmon. “That’s the way life works. That’s the way the world is today. We just do the best we can do with what we have. I’m not disappointed because I understand. It’s just another case of when something like this happens, someone is going to get after somebody. I just happened to be the guy with the formidable insurance carrier. It’s not personal. When you take advice from the insurance companies, this is the route you are going to go.”
Harmon doesn’t believe the series was negligent.
“None whatsoever,” he said, confidently. “In fact, in working with our attorneys, I feel we have the strongest case. I’ve been involved with a lot of issues. This is the first issue I’ve ever had and the most significant amount. The car never hit the wall, nor did it spin out. It never hit anything and I’m getting sued for negligence? I’ve got the tech card on the car, the sticker on the chassis and the release waiver signed. I’m confident.”
The lawsuit is said to be in excess of $1 million dollars by sources close to the situation.
CompetitionPlus.com also contacted the NHRA; a representative declined comment citing company policy of not commenting on any current litigation. Attempts to contact a representative of Skinny Kid Race Cars were also unsuccessful, but a message was left.
In the end, Harmon wishes the speediest recovery from what he described as a terrible incident.
“What happened to Barbara was unfortunate and devastating,” said Harmon. “We truly support her. She’s a warrior and a wonderful racer and good friend. We wish her the best. However, these outcomes are not necessarily what we would predict. Under these circumstances, we must move forward.”
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