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Soderman on exit.  (Autodrome-Granby Collection)



A couple of weeks back, on July 4, the O’Reilly All Star Sprinters towed up to entertain the Quebecois at Canada’s Autodrome Granby. That’s the ultra-popular half-miler just east of Montreal. Among them was a 34-year-old open-wheel veteran from North Jackson, Ohio, Jack Sodeman Jr.

Jack’s been driving sprint cars since he was 15. It’s in his genes. He’s a workingman’s racer. Along the way he’s accumulated about 40 wins. Last year was his mightiest season, no contest. Starting out with a total cash balance of just $5000, he ended up with 13 checkers plus a new track record – this a 10.23- second lap around the banked 3/8ths dirt of Skyline Speedway in Stewart, Ohio.

But winds will blow in sprint car racing. Turns out Granby this year was quite the adventure.
Check out this clip:

Here’s what Jack, now recovering at his parents’ home in Butler, PA, said about it when we spoke this week:

Jack, what was in your mind when you buckled in for that time trial?

I was psyched. Granby is a big, D-shaped half, with great promoters and lots of enthusiastic fans. The track looked to be in great condition with lots of bite. I was gonna go for it.

You sure were keeping that car straight – and your right foot didn’t move a lot.

Yeah, with those winged cars, that’s the deal, especially in qualifying. If you get just a little loose, it will cost you a tenth. There wasn’t any of that pitchin’ it like we did in that USAC race recently at Lernerville without wings. I looked at that first lap at Granby as kind of my insurance policy. I went easy and made it nice and clean. On the second lap, I was on it. I got a little high out of two, but that was okay. I was taking it up to the cushion to maximize my roll speed. It felt really good going into three. That backstretch is really a big, sweeping turn. It’s the fastest part of the track. They clocked us at over 150 mph right there.

Looks to me like it couldn’t have felt really good for too long!

Wow! It was the right front post to the wing that broke. When it did, there was this huge snap – like a gun shot. I heard it over the open headers, the radio, and everything. When it let go, the car sort of sprung up from all that weight on the left rear and it loaded onto the right front – and over it went.

I was fully conscious for the first flip. There was an amazing second when I saw a white flash and that was the wing going away. After that, with all that quick-fire flipping, I guess my blood was rushing to my head so I lost coherence. This wasn’t a slow motion rollover like some are. This was a wingless sprint car crash at winged speed. I was so out of it by the time the car went way airborne, that I didn’t know I had left town, right over the fence.

When I finally landed, I was blinded. There was only the black of night. I knew to worry about fire. I was able to hit the kill switch, but, for all my practice, I couldn’t even find the fuel shut off feeling around. I told the people who got there first to do that.

Who was there first?

It was comforting to hear my dad’s voice (Jack Sr., longtime sprint and mod shoe) and Cat’s (Catherine Chong, significant other). I felt more at ease. I guess I was a sight, especially with one eye hanging out. Dad told me I’d feel some pressure, and he pushed it back in place right there.

My hands and left foot were hurt, but the biggest pain was from my right leg. Only the skin held it on below the knee.

I sure was hurting, but why shouldn’t I be after that? The main cage was busted in three places from the violence. Thank goodness for that Butler seat and the HANS device. And the rescue crew was fabulous.

So, it was off to the crash house?

Yup. And right into surgery. They inserted a titanium rod in my right leg and screwed it in permanently. I was in the hospital for four days for recovery and for antibiotics to prevent infection. I felt bad for some people like my Mom who saw pictures of the crash before she really knew how I was.

When were you released?

The next Friday and we drove to Butler, Pennsylvania, so I could recuperate with Mom and Dad for a while. Got there at 5:00 in the morning on Saturday and that night I went to Mercer (Raceway Park) to see Taylor Smith, my niece, run her mod lite. They took up a collection for me and that was very moving.

How are you now?

I’m really doing well. I bet you’ve read Doug Wolfgang’s book. I’m like him. I honestly believe that once my eyesight returned, it is better than it was before the crash. My leg is sore, but it is straight and healing well and I’ll get through it – and without pills.

Well, you know what I’m going to ask next.

I know and the answer is ‘of course!’ Some people need their cocaine; I need my sprint car. And we’re building a 305 for Cat. She needs one, too. I’ve been hurt before. Lots of concussions. It’s part of sprint car racing.

What I am obsessed about now is my training. For a long time I’ve worked out six days a week – weights, running, the whole thing. In about two weeks, I think I can begin some upper body work. I know there will be no problem with my being ready by next spring. But lately I have been thinking a little about maybe late fall…

He’ll have to start from scratch with the car…

Jack and Cat.  (Cory Stivason Photo)

Jack at work, leaning on that left rear.  (Cory Stivason Photo)

© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

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.: Previous Tearoffs :

6/30/11 - Quick to Quickest - Jim “Mr. Magoo” Maguire

6/16/11 - Climb to the Clouds

6/2/11 - Irv and the Hall of Fame

5/18/11 - Makin' MOWA

5/4/11 - The Running of the Racers

4/21/11 - Pruett's Perspective

4/4/11 - Winter of Discontent

3/23/11 - Thinking of Gene Bergin

3/8/11 - Sprint Car World Record?

2/21/11 - Dinner at Daytona

2/10/11 - The Call Him 1/4ley

1/28/11 - Doc's Beard

1/15/11 - Reconsidering Generalizations

12/31/10 - Powerful Passion

12/19/10 - Tearoff at Yuletide

12/6/10 - Indy in December

11/21/10 - Mutt and the Brutal Ballet

10/29/10 - The Johnny Bensons and Their Supers

10/13/10 - Anatomy of an Accident

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

© 2007-11 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181





































































































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