Emergency vehicles were forced to drive up the Knox Mountain Hillclimb racetrack Saturday after a Ford Mustang GTO crashed between the second and third corners of the course.
Emil Hamm, turn marshall for the third bend, said he heard the crash just before 1 p.m.
“We heard an impact, grabbed the fire bottles and two of us ran down—there was a fire there,” said Hamm.
“We succeeded in getting it reasonably controlled. The driver was moving most of the time, he was saying that he couldn’t get out.”
Hamm realized the door was jammed just as the local fire suppression team arrived.
“We were able to make sure it was controlled and (the driver) got fresh air and fresh water into the cabin.”
Emergency crews arrived shortly later to extricate the driver and take him to hospital.
Hamm noted the driver appeared to have minor injuries, but “should be OK.”
According to the 56th annual Knox Mountain Hillclimb 2013 entry form, the car was expected to be driven by both John and Tom Edwards. Whether it was Tom or John driving at the time of the crash is unclear at this point in time.
Bruce Newton, who is in charge of safety for the weekend’s races, said the driver was in his 50s.
“The driver seems to be OK—we’ve sent him in (to be checked out) at the hospital,” said Newton.
“It looks as if all the safety equipment in the car that’s designed to help in this situation certainly benefitted him.”
Newton said the car was likely going about 60 mph before the vehicle spun off course and crashed into a tree.
“Unfortunately, with a big tree like that, it makes the car stop a lot faster. The cage is built inside these cars to take a lot of stress, but it’s a little harder on the driver when the car stops so quickly.”
The safety official said he’s been working at the Knox Mountain Hillclimb for 26 years and this is one of the most significant collisions he’s witnessed.
“Usually it’s pretty good, the guys are familiar with the hill—a lot of them (have) raced here a lot of years. But every now and then you get a little hiccup and something goes wrong,” said Newton, adding the driver in the crash had driven the Knox Mountain course “very often.”
According to Newton, the Knox Mountain Hillclimb has all the safety equipment in place that’s required by the Confederation of Autosport Car Clubs.
“We have fire equipment on scene and medical people here…but when (we) get in a situation where we don’t want to take any chances…we call in the experts.”
The race was expected to continue Saturday afternoon and Sunday.