Major collision turns into a minor miracle
Both drivers escape relatively unscathed after Motorplex crash
12:34 AM CDT on Sunday, October 9, 2005
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ENNIS – Arlington driver Bruce Allen and Pro Stock racer Kenny Koretsky escaped one of the worst racing accidents in recent memory with fewer injuries than they might incur falling off a stepladder.
Allen has a concussion, a black eye and a cut hand. Koretsky has a bruised chest and a sore neck. Most of the people who saw the crash Friday night at Texas Motorplex expected much worse.
What could have been a stunning tragedy was nothing more than a spectacular crash that destroyed racecars, not drivers.
Friday's collision during the O'Reilly Fall Nationals was a one in a million incident that required a series of unusual circumstances to come together at a precise moment.
The exact wrong moment. A normal second-round qualifying pass became a frightening sight.
Allen was in the right lane, running ahead of Koretsky. Allen's car got out of the groove and veered to the right. Allen tried to correct it but lost control as the car turned over on the passenger side.
Allen's car started to slide across the track into Koretsky's lane at the worst possible instant. Koretsky was approaching at about 200 mph.
Koretsky's Dodge slammed into the undercarriage of Allen's car like a torpedo. The impact brought a fiery explosion that left Allen's car unrecognizable.
"I didn't even see him," Koretsky said. "All I remember is Bruce's motor coming through the windshield."
Allen's finely tuned racecar became a thousand pieces of shattered metal. One can only imagine what must have gone through Arlington team owner and crew chief Dave Reher's mind as he watched.
Twenty years ago, Reher lost his close friend and driver Lee Shepherd in a testing accident. Shepherd, a Fort Worth native, had won four consecutive Pro Stock titles.
Allen replaced Shepherd, moving from Michigan to Arlington to drive for the Reher-Morrison team. They have won 16 events over the years. Allen has earned a top-four spot in the season standings seven times.
In an instant, it could have ended. Surviving something so horrific doesn't seem possible. Surviving without a major injury seems miraculous.
Several things contributed to Allen's good fortune. The car turning on its side before the impact was a good thing. Had Allen crossed into Koretsky's lane while still on all four tires, Koretsky would have T-boned Allen at the driver door.
Allen's driver compartment and roll cage remained intact. The roll cage of Pro Stock cars is a cage within a cage. Steel tubing surrounds the seat, but that cage also has a larger cage around it.
Allen also benefited from his car traveling at a high rate of speed – an estimated 140 mph – when Koretsky hit. The impact was enormous, but it would have been much worse if Allen's car had stopped on the track.
Allen was unconscious when medical personnel arrived, but he regained consciousness before being airlifted to Parkland hospital.
Allen is already home. His CAT scan was normal. He doesn't have a single broken bone. Koretsky remained hospitalized one more day as a precaution. Both are expected to compete again soon.
Motorplex owner Billy Meyer, a top Funny Car driver 20 years ago, had a few scary incidents in his day. He said Allen and Koretsky are fortunate.
"Most spectators don't realize that these cars are built to crash," Meyer said. "What they aren't built to do is stop instantaneously. And the biggest danger always has been two cars coming together."
This is the 20th season of NHRA competition at the Motorplex. Track officials put together a list of top-20 moments to mark the occasion. Meyer thinks the list may need a revision.
"Now that we know both guys are alright, that may go to the top of the list as the most memorable moment," Meyer said. "It shows how safe these cars are, but it really just comes down to the grace of God that those two guys are OK."