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Semi-Monthly
Racing Commentary
with
LEW BOYD

Email Lew at lewboyd@coastal181.com



Lee Allard snags one in the Twister in 1964. (Allard Collection)


10/13/10

ANATOMY OF AN ACCIDENT

A few weeks back we posted a TEAROFF called “An Ode to Senior Supers”. It seemed to rouse the troops.

One person who had a whole lot to say is Lee Allard of Satellite Beach, Florida. Lee was one on-the-gas cutdown shoe in the early sixties, and he’s the one starring in the spectacular end-for-end crash pictured in that piece. He returned over time, won frequently, and was successful as a NASCAR team owner and business man.

Lee’s memory of the event on Labor Day 1964 at Hudson (N.H.) Speedway is crystal clear. He described in precise detail the construction of that senior supermodified and what transpired on that fateful afternoon 46 winters past.

Think about what Lee’s rendition below says about safety. Back then, it just wasn’t well-defined or a primary concern. There were few rules and little protective equipment, but all said and done, drivers accepted responsibility for their own well-being.

Frank Barthell and I built that Twister car for the 1964 season for the URDC circuit. We modeled it after a CAE design. It had frame rails like a Model A, a small block Chevy, three deuces, Frankland rear, suicide front, semi-ellipticals on the back. Everything except that three-speed Ford transmission was brand new. $3150 complete.

I was a weight freak. I’d drill everything to lighten it and I measured the grams. Frank wanted to use .120 tubing while I wanted .060. We compromised on .080. Obviously, that wasn’t too smart.

One thing did worry me. I am not small, but the dimensions of that CAE-type cage sure were. I insisted that Frank use a dish steering wheel from a Ford station wagon that would absorb energy if I crashed. It worried me that I couldn’t duck my head down with the helmet on if I flipped. It was that tight. So, I spent a lot of time in the garage practicing ‘going into the basement’, as we used to call it. To get my head and shoulders down into the cockpit, I’d leave the shoulder harness real loose. And I left the helmet strap undone so the helmet would actually come off. I perfected ducking down that way. That ol’ pit steward Phil Roy wasn’t happy seeing me go out with my helmet undone. I’d have to unsnap the strap right when they were throwing the green.

We won Dover, the Pines, and Hudson the first week. It got really fast at the Pines, though. Coming through traffic, I got into someone, lifted my front end up, and it slammed back onto the track. Bent the frame just a little, giving it the perfect set. I told Frank it was okay to add a little weight with a down tube on each side of the front.

The summer of ’64 was high cotton with the cutdowns. Ollie Silva, Eddie West, Bentley Warren, Don MacLaren. Everyone was tough, and the stands were full. We won our share for sure, but what happened on Labor Day was 100% driver error.

We were at Hudson, and I must have hit a slick spot. I thought we had busted an axle. I stomped on the gas once and looked for smoke from the left rear. That was okay, so I tried it again to check the right side. When I looked back up, it was ‘Oh, boy!’. I clipped one of the phone poles holding up Kenny Small’s starter’s box. That wrenched the wheel right out of my hands and flung me end for end.

I think, when you are racing, your brain operates at a different level. It turned quiet and I knew I was getting some serious air time. I remembered to go to the basement, and my helmet went flying.

On the first hit, the cage was torn off, sheered off about four inches up the front posts and bent away from me in the back. Then quiet again.

The next couple of hits my head and the upper third of my back hit the ground directly. It kept drilling me deeper and deeper into the car.


The Twister hits the ground, with Allard’s back acting as the roll cage.
(John Halloran Photo)
.
When it finally stopped, I was upside down, pretty much cageless, so crunched up that I had a collapsed lung and could hardly breathe. Meanwhile, outside I had certainly attracted some attention. I heard drivers Archie Archambault and Bobby Edwards shouting gibberish to someone to get some canvas. They were going to drape it over the wheel fence to block the spectators’ view. You see, my helmet had rolled down into the first turn, and they assumed my noggin was in it.

I was gasping for air and yelled ‘Get this damn thing off me!!!!’ They freaked out.

First they lifted the car up on its side and I could partially unfold my body and catch some breath. Then they brought it upright. They were all nervous, yanking on me. They were no safety crew; there wasn’t one. These were just fellow drivers and mechanics. I shouted to slow down. I was alert, really ripped.


 The world class safety crew. (John Halloran Photo)
.
Finally they got me to that pitiful old Packard ambulance and that pitiful old alcoholic doctor. He was so juiced on whiskey he was useless. By this time my wife, Candy, had pretty much taken over. Good thing – and remarkable thing. She was seven months pregnant with our daughter, Tracy.

I was really banged up. Smashed discs and vertebrae, and I spent four or five days in the hospital. But I refused any kind of surgery. That’s the way we were back then. Accept the injury and keep going. Let it mend itself.

You know, that Twister was first of a bunch Frank made. It was the fastest. He built five more of them, but they all had .120 tubing.
.

One twisted Twister. (John Halloran Photo)

© 2010 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

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.: Previous Tearoffs :.

9/28/10 - Maybe Marty

9/14/10 - Push Refresh for Speedway Illustrated

8/23/10 - An Ode to Senior Supers

8/6/10 - Adrian and the Deep Water

7/20/10 - Holdout in Yuppieville

7/7/10 - The Wins are Gustin

6/16/10 - Racin' Kid, Racin' Dad

5/28/10 - The Monk and Matty D.

5/15/10 - Bluebird

4/27/10 - Catching Up With Steve Arpin

4/11/10 - The Song of the Fifties

3/22/10 - Davey!

3/8/10 - Restart!

2/21/10 - Miracles of the Rock

2/8/10 - Roger The Remarkable

1/21/10 -  Shane's Sensational '78

12/28/09 - The Flying Finn and The All American Boy

12/12/09 - Hello Wall

11/29/09 - Once More for Ernie

11/15/09 - Ernie's Excellent Chase

11/1/09 - In The Zone

10/19/09 - Rough Week in the Midwest

10/1/09 - Common Starts, Uncommon Comebacks

9/4/09 - South Dakota Chris

8/15/09 - Facial Exposure

7/31/09 - Dying in the Pits

7/9/09 - Barn Rat's Last Race

6/18/09 - Catching Up With Brad Doty

5/20/09 - Big Boys in The Attic  - rare photos of legends

5/6/09 - Back Up In The Attic - more rare photos

4/22/09 - The Son of Hard Luck - accessible racing
experience for the handicapped

4/3/09 - Racin' In The Attic - Gordon Ross photo collection

3/18/09 - About That Mike Spaulding

3/3/09 - Dick Berggren's First Win - (you had to be there!)

2/11/09 - Peter at the Park - Peter Fiandaca at Riverside Park

1/30/09 - Steve - Steve Arpin

1/4/09 - Racer Speak -cool quotations

12/16/08 - Wimble Power, Will Power - Bill Wimble

11/24/08 - Remembering Chuck Amati - by Joyce Standridge

11/11/08 - That Rick Ferkel

10/24/08 - Beyond Bionic - Bentley Warren

10/6/08 - Fifty Second Classic - Skip and Lois Matczak

9/20/08 - Joey's Dad - Tom Logano

9/1/08 - One Night at The Park - the death of Les Ley

8/20/08 - Transitional Technology - early supermodifieds

8/6/08 - Wallace on Wednesdays - dirt trackin’ Kenny

7/19/08 - Star(ter) of the Show - importance of good flaggers

7/7/08 - McUnderdog - Eddie MacDonald

6/18/08 - The Night Buzz Was Worried - Buzz Rose

6/5/08 - John Richards - Boomer Role Model

5/20/08 - The Spirit of a Racer - the late Al Powell

5/1/08 - Bobby's Blues - Bobby Santos III

4/15/08 - Thinking About Rene Charland

3/26/08 - Carl and Corey - Carl Edwards and Corey Dripps

3/4/08 - A Cool Track with Cool Racers - West Liberty, Iowa

2/14/08 - Doug Wolfgang

1/25/08 - Frankie Schneider

1/7/08 - When Drivers Can't See - cockpit vision

12/21/07 - When Starters Couldn't See - flagstand vision

12/1/07 - Ride Along with Erica Santos - in-car camera midget win

11/15/07 - Tough Drivers

11/1/07 - Cockpit Safety

10/15/07 - That First Race

10/1/07 - Racing Nicknames

9/15/07 - Too Many Officials

9/1/07 - The Look of a Real Driver

8/15/07 - Being Dale Junior

8/1/07 - Armond Holley

7/15/07  -  Red Farmer

© 2007-10 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181