Crash Of The Year 2011

I think this wins the award for crash of the year, if only for the comedy value to those who saw it. No doubt Corby will be along shortly to tell us of his escapades at Margam and the resulting ride in the air-ambulance. 
Mine was at the European 24hr race at Newcastleton back in May, before the race had even started!
I had arrived at the race-track in broad daylight and parked the car outside our chalet to unload all the paraphernalia. We then headed off to the ceilidh for the evening, returning after dark. The car was parked on the track and would have to be moved. There was a suitable space behind the chalet but I was unsure how to get to it so I headed off on a speculative drive back down the hill and turned right at the bottom. I thought my luck was in when I saw a track leading back up the hill in exactly the direction I was looking for, so I turned and headed up it.

About 30 feet later I came to a stop, my front wheels spinning helplessly on the loose gravel, it was a lot steeper than it had looked at first. I decided that the best course of action would be to take a run-up at it and so began to reverse back down the hill, it seemed to go on for a lot longer than I was expecting and then I got a sinking feeling, the right rear corner of the vehicle was going over some sort of edge, I must have come back down the hill at a slight angle.

Not a problem, I just need to straighten up a little, best do a proper hill-start though as that hill does look very steep. Handbrake on, find the bite point of the clutch, a little power, release the handbrake and… slipping backwards, not the result I was hoping for! Stand on the brake again.

OK, what am I falling into? Can’t see in the mirrors, too dark. Get out and have a look, handbrake on, lift off the footbrake, car slipping backwards again, bugger, handbrake on harder, off the footbrake again, still slipping backwards. This isn’t going well.

Was there a ditch by the turn, or have I crossed the track at the bottom and am now on the edge of the big drop into the valley? I have no idea. Anyone around to ask for help? No, don’t be silly, everyone else is in bed, there’s a race tomorrow.

What else can I do? Phone for help, give Laura a ring, she’s not racing so she may still be awake, she’ll bring the others to give me a push. No signal. Bugger.

Now what? I cannot go forwards, I dare not go backwards and I can’t call anyone to rescue me. I can’t stay here all night, I’m just going to have finish the crash. This is going to be the slowest crash in history, lets hope it is a ditch and not a precipice! Release the brake, slowly, rolling back, brake, back a little more, brake, back, brake, back, thud! That is just sky out of the windscreen now.
Best get out and see what’s what. Handbrake on, release the footbrake, lurch, thud.

Open the door, gravity takes it from my hand. That really is quite a step down, it is just a ditch but it’s a hell of a big one! Standing next to it once I have climbed out the sill of the car is at about shoulder heights.

I head off up to chalet to find the others and return with half a dozen of my team-mates. Walking back down the hill the scale of the problem becomes apparent, I hadn’t seen it in the dark but by the light of the torch I can see that the left front wheel is two feet off the ground and the whole car is on the slant, that does look a bit precarious. The right rear, although over the side of the ditch, is several feet above the bottom of it. This doesn’t look good.

This is not a light car to try to lift...

Once the merriment and ridicule have subsided enough we debate the best course of action, the general consensus is that we can’t push it, certainly not up a hill that steep. It’s going to need a tow. Only slight problem is a car stuck in a ditch blocking the road we would have to get the van up to tow it…
Shergie then came up with the bright idea of bumping it sideways, either we could get enough lift to heave it out of the ditch and onto the flat or we would nearly get it out, then it would lurch back and topple over sideways as we scurried out of the way to try to avoid being squashed. It was then decided that someone should be sitting in it to turn the wheel in the appropriate direction and to give the throttle some welly as soon as the wheels had some purchase. I felt that as I had got the thing stuck I should at least do some of the lifting and pushing, but the others wouldn’t hear of such a thing and insisted I sit inside while they tried not to tip it over. What could possibly go wrong?

Cliff-hanger ending. (yes, pun intended)

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