Rollovers and wrecks are all part of the game when drivers strap themselves into the seat of a race car. The hope is that enough premeditated safety requirements hold up in order for those involved to walk away after a situation turns ugly.
It took safety crews approximately 20 minutes to remove Jamestown's Chuck Christ from his mangled INEX Legend car at Wishek's Tri-County Speedway on June 6. Contact with fellow competitor Tony Brockhouse on the opening lap of the 13-car feature sent Christ's No. 79 tumbling end over end near the entrance of Turn 1.
A visit to the doctor June 7 revealed Christ suffered a cracked sternum, bruised ribs, a bruised lung and a slipped vertebrae.
"A guy swooped up and hit my tire and flipped me head over heels," Christ said. "We came out of turn No. 4 and hit the gas pedals. We were at full bore and before we even hit the corner I was doing a gymnastics tumble.
"Thank gosh for pain pills."
Christ, 54, had never before sustained injuries in a rollover incident on the race track, which he says he's experienced a handful of times over the years. The veteran driver first began racing in 1989 and came out of semi-retirement this season after eight years away from full-time driving to pilot a legend, a lower-cost class of cars that Jamestown Speedway has added to its weekly repertoire in 2019.
Christ was driving one of five cars his family had put together to race at area tracks this summer. Christ's sons, Billie and Charlie Christ, and grandson, Jaden Christ, are also all behind the wheel and are heavily involved in all aspects of the sport.
Christ had wheeled to a pair of top 10 finishes in six feature starts this season prior to the accident in Wishek.
"There was no doubt about it, that was the funnest thing I ever did," Christ said. "I bought this car at the beginning for fun for the kids, and the next thing you know I've got a full-time ride."
Christ rolled at least five times, but his five-point safety harness and HANS (head and neck support) device kept him secure in the vehicle throughout the ordeal. He said contact between his chest and the steering wheel, however, bent the wheel forward roughly six inches.
Christ believes the car is repairable, but he'll be on the shelf himself for at least the next three months.
"It's going to take 12 to 14 weeks just for my sternum to heal," Christ said. "I have a hard time even driving my regular car downtown."
But he said he'd rather it happen to him than his sons or grandson. Christ also called Felicia Sampson of Standing Rock Ambulance Service his "angel".
"We went to Wishek last night (June 13) to watch, and I betcha 40 people came up to me," Christ said. "The ambulance lady (Sampson) has been my best friend for the last week, texting me and asking me how I'm doing."
Dakota Legends Tour tonight
Following three early-season rainouts and some heavy track conditions, Jamestown Speedway co-owner Tim Baldwin said he believes the track should be in solid shape for the third night of the Dakota Legends Tour tomorrow at 7, weather permitting.
"I really feel like we've got the track back in Jamestown Speedway shape, so to speak," Baldwin said. "We've got all the bumps taken care of and the holes taken care of and so forth. We scraped some fresh clay out of the infield to help us with that. Some long hours with everybody helping to get it back in shape."
Baldwin said he's happy with what the INEX Legends have brought to the track this season as a weekly class. The legends have produced 11 local cars to this point and 24 different legend drivers have so far visited the track in 2019. Dacotah Speedway in Mandan had 21 legends entered to participate in the second night of the four-night Dakota Legends Tour on Friday, June 14.
Bismarck's Austin Wiest won the tour's opening night on Thursday in Wishek. The tour concludes Sunday in Lisbon.
"We've been really happy with it, and we're getting support from the folks in the Bismarck and Fargo areas too," Baldwin said. "They've been putting on some fantastic races."
Jamestown Speedway will be offering half-price Coors and Miller products for the first half of Saturday's races, along with a host of giveaways courtesy of Emma Rosie's Homecookin' and Central Auto Repair & Services.