The past weekend on September 29-30, I witnessed something that I have never seen before. I saw, and was part of, a group of people who come from a variety of different areas, professions, and ages, band together in a time when it is needed most.
On Saturday afternoon in race one of three on the weekend, the lead pack was six cars strong as often seen in recent history of the field. With two laps to go, and cars jockeying for position, disaster struck. Going through turn two, the top two cars of Steve Bamford and Michael Iamundi came together, which put Steve sideways across the track. With nowhere to go, Spencer Todd launched over the front of Steve’s car, and sent him into a barrel roll down turn two. The tumble split the transmission and the engine from the car as it continued to roll. The main cockpit managed to stay intact as it finally came to a stop, right side up beside the concrete wall. Right behind the accident were Phil Wang and Andrew Waring, who instinctively stopped their cars and ran over to Spencer to see if their friend was ok. The first response medical team worked very efficiently to extract Spencer from the car and quickly rush him to the hospital. While he was unconscious at the time, Spencer would eventually regain consciousness on the way to the hospital.
Immediately after that accident, every single person involved with the Formula 1200 group began to pray for the well-being of their friend, their brother. No work was being done on the cars, nobody was thinking about racing. At that moment, I had thought to myself, why do we do this? Why do we put ourselves in this position of potential catastrophic events? I have been in that lead pack, sometimes 11 cars strong, and all racing within 2 seconds of the first and last car. That could be any one of us in that situation. It took me about 10 seconds to answer my own question. It’s the rush. The chance for success, and failure. The unknown of who is going to take it race to race. Ultimately, it comes down to being comfortable and trusting your fellow drivers enough to get within inches of one another corner to corner. Only a group of people as close as a family can have as much trust for one another as this group does.
A few hours after the accident, word had begun to spread around the Formula 1200 paddock that Spencer had emerged with a few broken bones, and a lot of bruises. Gary Todd, Spencer’s father, was at the track the next day. He told us that the worst news of the weekend for Spencer is that he wasn’t going to be able to race on the Sunday. If there has ever been a miracle in racing, this was it. As soon as the word was given that Spencer would be ok, the teams and drivers decided to go ahead and finish out the weekend and the season.
In the past, Formula 1200 had been known as a stepping stone between go karting and Formula Ford. It has become very apparent that over the past few years this series has turned into a destination rather than a stepping stone. The competition level has increased dramatically, as well as the number of drivers entering the series. Many people around the track have commented how Formula 1200 has some of the most exciting racing they have ever seen.
This group of drivers represents everything that is a family. The board of directors and track officials parent and police the drivers. The tracks where we race are the homes at which we all reside. Finally, the drivers are brothers both on and off the track. As there is in any family, drivers will get heated with each other time to time. With any good competition between brothers, rivalries are made. When it comes down to the safety and well-being of one of your brothers behind the wheel, the family becomes a pack. After the final race, the podium had Gary Todd standing at the top with race winner Steve Bamford, surrounded by the entire F1200 family. Personally, I am extremely proud to be a part of this family, and this weekend truly proved how much this series means to all the people involved.
– Shane Viccary