Sonoma Burn

Aloha, Oregon, June 20, 2022 | On lap number five of the Sonoma Trans Am race last month, I felt some heat funneling in along my left hip.  But when you drive a Viper, cockpit heat is normal feature. I have dealt with it for years.   When you combine the heat of a 10-cylinder motor and side exhausts, you just learn to man up and tough it out with the heat.  In fact, I even incorporate heat training into my workouts.  Juggling in a sauna of 150- degrees for 30- minutes three times per week. I also have the best driver cooling system in the business from our friends at ChillOut Systems.  If you want to see a picture of the burn, you can click here (warning, it's not pretty).

Anyway, I just put my head down and finished the race.  It’s amazing how adrenaline certainly helps you overcome so many physical challenges.  Walking up to the podium, I could feel something was wrong.  But I just kept a smile on my face for the ceremonies and drank more of the champagne than normal which will turn out to be a good thing later.  Within a couple of hours, a blister the size of a cantaloupe developed on my hip.  Needless to say, the ten-hour drive back to Portland, Oregon from Sonoma wasn’t too fun.

Once home, I got medical treatment.  So, for seven weeks, I have seen a wound/burn specialist for treatment three-times per week. During this time, I battled an infection and had to get the burn debridement.  Yes, removing/scrapping the dead tissue from the burn.  Pain was pretty intense.  I have been so frustrated on how slowly burns heal.  I had no experience with any types of burns before.  And I have a whole new appreciation for anyone recovering from burns and getting back to their job. 

The cause of the burn was a few cracks on the driver’s side exhaust system. 

I only share my story so that people will learn.  I was wearing all the top-notch safety Nomex and driver’s suit.  I have the best crew in the business that give me a safe and fast bullet every weekend. So, things can still happen.

9 weeks later, I jumped back in the car for the first time.  Had to grit my teeth a little bit the first time I slid into my seat.  But from that point on, it was a back to business.