Modified race-car driver Brian Powers of Craig said he was lucky to come away from the accident like he did.
On Saturday, in the last race of the evening at the Hayden Speedway, Powers' car was T-boned by another car, knocking him unconscious for about three minutes and pinning him inside. He walked away with a few bruises on his hip, foot and knee.
Powers was hit so hard that the steel frame around his car door and roof was crushed, sealing any possible exit, Speedway President Justin Gallegos said.
Though emergency personnel were on scene, they could do nothing. An additional unit from the West Routt Fire Protection District was called to bring the jaws of life to pry out Powers, Gallegos said.
"If it weren't for all the safety precautions we take, it could have been a hell of a lot worse," Gallegos said.
International Motor Contest Association regulations call for safety cages, helmets, seat belts and neck braces in all race-car seats. A recently implemented rule calls for quarter-inch-thick steel plates welded to the door frames -- plates Powers said probably saved his life.
"It's a good thing I had that plate," Powers said. "Otherwise the door bars would have spread apart and (the other) car would have been in my lap."
Just before the wreck, Powers was racing around turn one when one of the drivers in front of him spun sideways. Drivers turned hard to avoid the car, which started a chain reaction, Gallegos said. Three cars were involved in the wreck.
"Some of the drivers tried to react but couldn't," he said.
"I thought I could avoid it," Powers said. "It happened so fast. I thought I was going out the passenger window."
Powers was transported to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Powers said he remembers trying to start his car again, but it could have been a dream, because, as he later found out, when rescuers reached him, he was unconscious.
Powers' wife, Michelle, was not initially allowed to go onto the track, even though race officials had called the race. She said no one told her her husband was unconscious. But after a few minutes, when Powers came to, she went to check on him.
Michelle Powers said one of the rescuers told her if Powers' seat didn't snap from its foundation the way it did -- "he wouldn't be here now."
Once Powers had safely escaped a brush with death, he already was thinking about his next race in Fort Morgan, which carries a $10,000 cash prize.
"I wanted to cry," Brian Powers said. "I was going to miss the biggest show on Earth -- ever in the state of Colorado -- a once-in-a-lifetime deal. To total your car the week before is pretty depressing."
But Powers isn't worried anymore. He is borrowing a cousin's car and putting his engine and parts in so he can race next weekend.
"My friend at the body shop said there was no way to fix my car," Powers said.
When looking back on the incident, Powers said he does feel lucky.
"It was by far the worst wreck of the season," Gallegos said. "Usually, there is one major incident a year, and hopefully this is the one."
Powers wanted to thank the rescue crews who helped him that night.
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