May 2005 I was invited to pilot PSN's Sprinter to attempt a new ¼ mile sprint world record. Andy Pearson, the owner of the sprinter was about 4 stone heavier than me and was running constant 12 second passes at speeds just in excess of 100mph. It was thought that with my weight and size advantage we shouldn't have too much of a problem pulling something special out of the bag.
After contacting the local paper I had the sports editor pay me a visit to take photo's and interview which was duly published for all to read.
Sunday 26th of June arrived and so did some of the Chesterfield Spiral Scooter Club members, Simon Evans from Evans & Salt Insurance Services (a sponsor) also came to watch as did many of my family members. I started the day off very well recording a personal best of 96mph in 12.9 seconds, only the second time I had made a 12 second pass.
Now was the time we had all been waiting for …. a ¼ mile sprint on what is possibly the strongest 172cc Italjet Dragster in the world. After a short time riding it up and down the pits it was time to switch on to the task in hand.
Everything was going OK until I pulled forward to the line. However as I closed my visor a fly flew into my helmet. I had to open my visor to let the fly out and that was it, my concentration was blown. I moved forward to the line and went through the pre staged beam and straight into staged. To add to my list of things that went wrong, I wasn't used to the sprinter and I couldn't find the footrest. I knew Richard Baker was in the lane at the side of me on his Lambretta wanting a race, and I wanted to beat him.
Unfortunately it was at this point where it all went wrong. Basically I lost it at the start. As I set off at what I think was about half throttle or so the rear wheel just lit up and stepped out to the right, I caught it and once pointing in the right direction I remember tucking in behind the fairing, and thinking "Right, here we go", and opening the throttle up fully. What I didn't realize was the wheel was still spinning and the pendulum effect came in and took over. It went left and then right again and I remember seeing sky - track - sky with a horrible grinding noise as I rolled and skidded along on my brand new helmet.
The next thing my son was standing over me crying and holding my arm. I must have lost consciousness again because the next time I looked up my wife and younger son were also stood there.
It took the paramedics a while to pick me up off the track. I had winded myself real bad and couldn't breathe at all.
There was damage to PSN's Sprinter which wasn't too bad, Andy Pearson's words not mine. I received quite a bad graze on my shoulder and my hip was skinned and very painful. My ribs took the full force though, I was still holding onto the handlebars as it slammed me into the track. The paramedics advised me to go to the local hospital for an x-ray as they felt I had broken some ribs.
Fortunateley the Brother-in-law had come to see the racing so he was able to load the van, with the other family members, & he drove me home.
After a nice soak in a warm bath, prepared by a very 'sympathetic' wife!? It was an early night, before work the next morning. The lack of skin on my shoulder was painful, still struggling to breath and not being able to lay down lead to a very uncomfortable night.
I managed to get to work the next morning, I really don't know, or even remember how, only for my Brother and Business Partner to insist he took me to the Hospital for a check over.
After about 3 hours of waiting around to be prodded, no x-ray! Apparently the treatment is the same whether there's broken ribs or not, pain killers, anti-inflammatory's and rest.
It was literally months before I was able to lay down to sleep, and I am still having problems with my shoulder. After numerous visits to my doctor he's advised "There's nothing I can do" The tissues which hold my shoulder joint are damaged and are not holding the joint securely. Subsequently, even washing my hair in the shower sometimes ends up with my shoulder coming out of joint.
The wife got the 'OFF' on video, it looked like a girly 'OFF' to me. (No disrespect to the girly's out there) She did however switch off pretty much as I went down.
My 'OFF' didn't upset Andy Pearson to much, in between his fits of laughter he asked me to ride "The Sprinter" again at another meeting. I have taken him up on his offer, but next time I will give his Dragster a whole lot more respect. "That doesn't mean I didn't have respect for his bike in the first place, just not enough obviously".
Fortunately being able to watch it on video I can see and understand what I did wrong on that day.
I GOT OUT OF BED.