Despite a fiery crash that sent him to the hospital, stock car driver Ryan Deane hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
“It’s a bad way to make yourself popular on YouTube,” quipped the 45-year-old.
Deane was competing in the Boss Hogg Super Late Model 150 at Wiscasset Speedway on Sunday when he crashed during a qualifying heat. His Chevy Monte Carlo became engulfed in flames and he had to be pulled out of the car by a track worker, whom Deane credits with possibly saving his life.
Deane is now recuperating at home after the fiery wreck, the first of Deane’s career since he started racing in 1998. Despite suffering serious injuries he considers himself fortunate and insists he will return to racing next season.
It was a situation he never expected when the crash first occurred.
“There was a car spinning out on the track and I drove high up the track to avoid him. But a car hit me from behind and I wound up going toward the middle of the track where the wreck was,” Deane said. “My car came to a stop and I was unhooking my helmet and getting ready to climb out of the car.”
But Deane’s fuel tank filler neck, a tube that is the primary point of entry for fuel into the vehicle, became detached and gas sprayed everywhere.
“[The gas] landed on something hot and flames came up over the car and through the driver’s side door,” said Deane, who couldn’t see anything as smoke and flames overtook the car.
“The worst part was I was trapped and the fire was coming through the door. Eighty percent of the car melted.”
Deane’s lungs and mouth were full of smoke and soot but he was able to wave his left arm out of the driver’s side window and one of the track workers pulled him out of the car.
“I think [the worker’s] name was Mike. If he hadn’t gotten me out when he did, it may not have been good,” said Deane, who added that he will be forever grateful to the worker.
Deane suffered burns to his left arm and blisters on top of his head and on his right hand caused by drippings from a melted vent on his helmet.
He was taken by ambulance to a field near the track and then airlifted to the Maine Medical Center in Portland.
At the hospital, Deane was given a CT scan to check for broken bones and monitored overnight for lung damage caused by smoke inhalation.
He was released late Monday afternoon.
His arm is bandaged and he takes ibuprofen for the pain, which Deane said has decreased each day. He said that his burns will not require a skin graft to heal.
“I have an appointment at the burn center in Portland next Wednesday and I’m hoping they will let me go back to work after that,” he said.
Deane has worked for BDS Waste Disposal Inc. in Fairfield, a scrap tire recycling company, for 24 years.
Deane has won track championships at Hermon’s Speedway 95 but has been racing at Oxford Plains Speedway and also at Wiscasset Speedway in recent years.