Mildura Weekly : Friday July 24 Vol 9 No 37
NEWS 09 FRIDAY, JULY 24, 2015 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU about spectacular crash by BEN PISCIONERI myself that I couldn’t have too much wrong with me.” For Sarah, who was standing directly behind Phil’s car with the rest of the team when he took off from the start line, her first sign that something had gone wrong was when she saw a body panel flying through the air, but the thought his car had snapped in two a second time hadn’t entered her mind. “My first thought was a panel’s just come off as it couldn’t possibly happen again,” she said. “And then I remember seeing the front wheels up in the air and thinking, that’s not right, and then seeing the entire Fuchs signage on the front of the car in the air, that’s when I realised it had happened again.” Due to the downward slope of the Willowbank drag strip, people based at the start line can’t see the cars at the end of the track, meaning Sarah had to turn to one of the big television screens mounted at the track to see her husband’s car crashing into the concrete wall on the side of the track. “The commentary had stopped, so we didn’t know what had happened,” she said. ”From what we’d seen, we knew the car had snapped off at the front again, but hopefully it would be the same as last time and he’d end up with a cut finger or something else minor. “But when we got a bit closer and noticed he wasn’t out of the car, my immedi- ate thought was he’s either really badly hurt, or some- thing’s majorly wrong. “As we got closer to the car, one of the crew said that Phil’s arms were moving, and I thought, that’s fine to a point, at least he’s alive and moving, but I could see inhiseyesthathewasina lot of pain.” Phil was rushed to hos- pital and given an MRI, and the initial prognosis was good. Doctors had ruled out surgery and said Phil would just need a back brace, and was allowed to stand and move around. However the Wemen driver was still in a lot of pain and two days later was sent for an x-ray, which he had to stand up for, despite the pain. It was only when the x- ray results came back that doctors realised one of Phil’s vertebra was crushed, while another was frac- tured. Doctors explained the initial MRI had been incon- clusive due to the amount of internal bleeding and swell- ing around the affected area. Phil underwent three- hour back surgery the fol- lowing day and was able to stand 24 hours later. He re- turned to his Wemen home the following week. • Continued Page 10 PHIL Lamattina said that after 10 years at the elite level of drag racing, and almost as long in the lower categories, he’d simply lost the motivation for racing, particularly based in a country area. “It got to the point at the end of last year where I was strug- gling to find the motivation to keep going. It was becoming a bit of a burden,” Phil said. “When an event got cancelled, normally we’d be pretty disap- pointed and upset, but for me it was like, ‘yes, I don’t have to go to Sydney, or I don’t have to go to Queensland’, and it actually surprised me. I started wonder- ing where this was coming from. “When I was at the track it was okay, but in between rounds it was a struggle to want to do it any more. “I found out there are a few other things to do in life than race the drag car. At the start of the year I bought a ski boat and really started enjoying the sim- ple things, spending time with the family, barbecues, all those things. “What people don’t realise is that, because we live in We- men, any time we had to go away it was a day’s travel just to get there. If we were half an hour from a track it would be a dif- ferent story, you’d load up and you’d be there. “But for us, we had to worry about where the younger kids have to go in terms of babysitting with the grandparents. “Any time there was an event it wasn’t like we were just driving to Mildura, do what we have to do and then be home that night. “It was days of travelling and that was just wearing us down.” Phil’s happy to call it quits... • HAPPILY RETIRED: Reigning Australian Top Fuel champion Phil Lamattina.
Friday July 17 Vol 9 No 36
Friday July 31 Vol 9 No 38