ALL too often you hear people complaining about the cost of safety equipment for their race car, but Rohan Hutson has no such complaints after he walked away from this 250kph crash in his supercharged 1955 Chev coupe. The 1000hp shoebox Chevy ran 8.67@153mph before it turned turtle at the finish line last Friday at Calder.
“I can’t believe I’ve walked away after hitting the wall at 250 kays an hour,” Rohan says. “I think there was an ignition problem and it lifted the blower, and it looks like the blower belt has taken out the radiator hose. One moment I’ve got a hand on the lever for the ‘chute, the next thing I know I’m on the roof and sliding upside down. I didn’t even know which wall I hit; it was lucky there was no-one beside me. When it stopped sliding I just flicked off the harness, climbed out the passenger window and turned the power off. The safety crew were awesome, they were there really quick, but I can’t believe I stepped out of it after that.”
A quick look at the video reveals that the blown 550ci Chev was on two wheels within a second of the radiator dropping its coolant. In short, there was nothing Rohan could have done to stop the crash; something that should be in the minds of every racer. “You see all these idiots racing on the street, or in cars with no cages,” Rohan says, “There’s guys running eights with no cages; it’s crazy. But the car did its job and I’m able to go home to the wife and kids.”
Rohan reckons the crash has reset his racing priorities. “I’m not going to sell all my cars, but that’s it for me for fast cars. I bought this one as a race car from the ‘States about four or five years ago. It had radiused wheel arches and it was ugly, we replaced the rear quarters but we didn’t have to touch the cage or chassis. I’ll probably sell this one, there’s a couple guys interested, and I’m going to put a cage in my black ’55 streetcar; it runs tens. It’ll probably feel slow after this one, but it’ll be safe.”
So next time you have to buy new safety gear, or upgrade your chassis because you added another 500hp to your ride, don’t try and cut corners with cheap imitation gear, or question the cost. One day it might save your life, and if that day comes you’ll want the best gear that money can buy around you.