Echuca speedcar Travis Mills was lucky not to suffer serious injury in a spectatular crash at Warrnambool last weekend.GEORDIE COWAN April 11, 2014 3:05am
Echuca speedcar driver Travis Mills cannot remember anything of the crash which flipped his car ‘‘six or seven times’’ at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool last weekend.
Competing in the final round of the Southern Speedcar Tour, he was passing around the car in front of him during the first heat when he drove over its back-right wheel.
The light and powerful car then launched into the air and flipped many times into the catch fence, before landing upright on the track.
Travis was knocked unconscious during the crash and also suffered some bruising to the top of his lungs after a device designed to keep his neck in place slipped down during the flip and compressed into his chest.
‘‘I had a bit of bleeding on the lungs,’’ he said.
After spending two nights in Warrnambool Base Hospital, he has returned to Echuca and hopes to return to full fitness within a couple of weeks.
While he admitted it was ‘‘a bit of a scare’’, Travis said it was worse for his family, with his wife, children and father all attending.
‘‘It was pretty bad,’’ Kate, his wife, said.
‘‘I was in an official position upstairs in a box and didn’t actually see it, but they got it on video and they just replayed it and replayed it.
‘‘I probably saw it 10 times before I actually got down there to see him.
‘‘Being in the sport my whole life, I know the longer it takes to get them out of the car, the more serious it could be.
‘‘He was unconscious when they got to him, so it took a while for him to come to.
‘‘The longer he was in the car, the more concerned I became.’’
Travis was then rushed to hospital and kept in intensive care, with all the scans coming back well.
Kate said the relief set in once the family could see and speak to him in the emergency department.
‘‘Probably a couple of hours after the scans were done and the results came back and they were fine,’’ she said.
‘‘That was another sense of relief.
‘‘As the days have progressed, it’s just become more and more a relief that he’s going to be okay and there’s no long-term damage.’’
With the racing season almost at an end, Travis has many months to prepare himself before the new season starts in October.
The challenges will come not only from the physical recuperation, but mentally as well.
Travis has not yet seen footage of the crash and is intrigued to see it, to put it into context of everyone else’s reactions, but he does not want it to slow his recovery down.
Getting back into a car will also be a difficult experience.
‘‘I’ve thought about that a couple of times,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t really know until I actually get in a car again.
‘‘I’ve had some decent crashes previously, but nothing this big.’’
Kate said the crash also affected the other teams and their families and crew.
‘‘I’ve heard most of them were shook up about it, but they soldiered on,’’ she said.
‘‘It was very tense and traumatic for them as well and they had to stay there and race for the rest of the night.
‘‘That’s what racing is. They all know when they hop onto the track it’s a dangerous sport and they’re doing it at their own risk.
‘‘But the fact of the matter is the safety devices and the manufacture of the cars they drive, along with the crash crew and safety personnel that the tracks provide, they’re generally pretty safe.
‘‘That’s a testament with the lack of injuries Travis has walked away with.
‘‘It showed that everything we have in place did what it was meant to do.
‘‘If he was in an ordinary car, travelling at the speed he was, he probably wouldn’t be here today.’’
Travis and Kate thanked Warrnambool speedway general manager David Mills, the crash crew, paramedics and the hospital for their care.
‘‘And thanks to the speedway community in general for their support and well wishes afterwards,’’ Travis said.
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