Modified stock car driver Lawrence O'Connor and crew chief Bill Milligan of Port Hardy enjoy their moment in the winner's circle May 26 at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma

O’Connor in mod race crash

Port Hardy driver's rival slams into his car after flag confusion

One night, Port Hardy modified stock car driver Lawrence O’Connor had one hand around a track girl and the other on a giant display cheque.

The next, he was in the back of an ambulance, engaged in a heated exchange with the rival driver who put him there.

“It was kind of like the best of weekends and the worst of weekends, all rolled into one,” Lawrence said, able to smile ruefully as he surveyed the wreckage of his Harris modified racer back in Port Hardy last week.

O’Connor’s wild weekend came during the annual Memorial Day (U.S.) Weekend showcase at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash., where he has been a regular for five seasons.

Even when he posted a rare clean-sweep weekend at the track, however, O’Connor has never been in the spotlight in quite the fashion he was May 27, after the failure of track officials to signal a caution led to Matt Mitchell plowing into O’Connor as the local driver sat disabled following a collision with the wall coming out of turn two.

The crash earned its own Youtube video clip, drew the ire of track regulars and has led to a review of policy by Grays Harbour. Even the track announcer can clearly be heard in the video shouting, “You gotta be kidding me! I did not just see that!”

The trouble actually began earlier Sunday, when rainshowers left a trench of water low on the inside of the first corner. O’Connor, fresh off his feature main victory one night earlier and racing a spanking-new vehicle purchased for this season, was running second to Mitchell with two laps remaining when his car splashed through the water and crossed the track. He got on the brakes hard but still slid into the wall before losing a wheel and coming to rest parallel to the wall.

Trailing drivers managed to slip past him without incident but, inexplicably, no caution flag was thrown. Mitchell, running hard in the lead and unaware of the crash, barrelled through the same turn on his next lap and slid through the same water, slamming O’Connor’s disabled car into the wall yet again while missing his fuel cell by just inches.

“It could have been a really nasty deal,” said O’Connor, who suffered a badly bruised leg and was taken off in the ambulance as a precaution. “I had shut the car off and was getting ready to get out, but I hadn’t unhooked my harness yet.

“The real problem was that the water was there in the first place, and the secondary problem was that no caution (flag) was thrown.”

O’Connor is still hoping to return to Speed Week, an event covering eight Northwest U.S. tracks in eight days, in which he placed sixth in overall points last season. But he has less than two weeks to go to either get his new car back in racing trim or outfit his backup car for the challenge.

“Saturday was sure fun, being in the winner’s circle with Bill, the big cheque, the track girls and everything,” he said. “But I lived both ends of the spectrum. You’re either gonna win it or wear it.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

Transformative ‘Centre of Hope’ coming to Port Hardy

With the new building, the Salvation Army will be able to run the shelter year long.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Port Hardy Mounties help First Nation chief build smokehouse

‘We have great maya’xala for all the community members, in each of the communities…’

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

Life is great, enjoy it for what it is

‘I came to the conclusion that I have nothing to complain about because life is great’

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

Most Read