USAC champion Thorson injured in road crash

Written by Norris McDonald

Back in the days when Open Wheel magazine was publishing, they would periodically do stories on the nomadic life of so-called outlaw auto racers. They would often include photographs of, say, Ronnie Shuman chatting with Scruffy Allen, who’d be driving, as they pulled their racing cars from one speedway to another.

It all looked very romantic. But what went unwritten and often unreported was that this depiction of life on the road was somewhat unrealistic and that those racers were frequently sleep-deprived and malnourished.

They would race till late in the evening one night, load up and head off down the highway, perhaps driving 300 or 400 miles to the scene of the next race, where they would have to sleep for a few hours, go through the McDonald’s drive-through, get to a speedway, unload the car and do routine maintenance and then go out and race again.

It was a grind. In summer, when the kids were out of school, the family would travel together and the driver could sleep while the wife drove the hauler. But if a guy races for a living, he’s got to be out there more than a couple of months a year so he’s frequently on the road and on his own. And that sometimes can spell trouble.

National Speed Sport News reported today that sprint car and midget racer Tanner Thorson was admitted to hospital Monday after suffering broken bones in a fiery crash on northbound California Highway 99.

California Highway Patrol officials confirmed that Thorson, driving a pickup truck that was hauling his Tri-C Motorsports sprint car, rear-ended a milk truck around 4 a.m.

Speed Sport said that according to police, Thorson was drowsy and didn’t slow quickly enough after he entered a construction zone, leading to the 4 a.m. crash, which collected two additional vehicles.

Tri-C Motorsports crew chief Lee Lindgren said that Thorson has a broken right foot and also underwent surgery on his broken left arm. U.S. Auto Club officials later confirmed that Thorson also has a cracked sternum, broken ribs and a punctured lung, but is expected to make a full recovery.

Thorson most recently competed with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in his home state of Nevada, on Wednesday and Thursday. The 22-year-old failed to qualify for either feature, with a best result of 13th in Thursday night’s B-main.

The 2016 USAC National Midget Series champion was scheduled to compete with Tri-C Motorsports in this weekend’s Shamrock Classic inside the Southern Illinois Centre in DuQuoin, Ill.

It was not known whether charges would be laid.

Elsewhere, the Formula Electric series will return to London, England, for a race in 2020.The electric series raced through the streets of London several years ago but the event was poorly attended.