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Sun, 4 Jun 2000, 11:58 AM

Doug Foxworth Accident Update
By Larry Sullivan

GRAND BEND, Ont. - Doug Foxworth was injured Saturday night at Grand Bend Motorplex when his Top Fuel dragster broke in two during the qualifying session for the Inaugural Mopar Parts Canadian Nationals presented by Castrol.

Doctors at Sefton Exeter Hospital initially assessed Foxworth's injuries as two broken ribs and a bruised lung, remarkably minor injuries given the violence of the crash. Sunday morning they also announced that he had two broken vertebrae in his neck. He will be fitted with a "halo" to allow those bones to heal.

Herbert was reported to be in good spirits Sunday, joking with medical personnel and visitors.

Tha accident was similar to one driver Jim Head was involved in several years ago, the car's lower chassis rail buckling under the extreme forces applied by the front and rear wings on the dragster. When the chassis buckled on Head's car, his wheelie bar prevented the car from breaking in two and he came to a safe stop. Dramatic photos of the incident showed Head riding several feet off the ground, atop the "V" formed by the two halves of the car.

Foxworth's car did not have a wheelie bar, so when the chassis buckled, Foxworth's driver compartment was pushed high in the air and the fuel line separated, causing a fire. Then the car broke in two, the pieces tumbling down the track. Contrary to early reports, the engine did not fail, the fire due to fuel, not oil.

Changes to the race track for this race may have been a factor in Foxworth's survival. Openings in the guard rails in the shutdown area were closed off for this event, preventing the tumbling car from impacting an exposed end of the guard rails. During its wild tumble, Foxworth's driver compartment bounced off one of the closed-off openings.

Initially race officials allowed Foxworth's run to stand, putting him second on the ladder, because the black flag rule specifically excludes oildowns as a result of an accident. Then his run was disallowed Sunday morning because the car did not cross the scales after the run. After further discussion, officials reversed the second decision, reinstating the run because it has not been an IHRA practice to disqualify cars when an accident prevents the car from being weighed.

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