While working on the interior book design yesterday I stumbled upon some pictures I thought are worthwhile to post. It is nothing in comparison to the crash DVD’s out there with the horrendous crash scenes of motorcycle or car races, but those two are the only pictures I have from any of my crashes. Just to show how skin abrasions are produced.
The pictures show a harmless slider in turn 6 on the Circuit of Hockenheim (I still remember vividly) in 1983 and does not relate to the crash described in the text which is an excerpt again from Chapter 7 “Passionate Intuition.” If someone would have taken a picture of all race crashes I‘ve ever had I’d need a database… Enough said.
The Nürburgring, a fifteen-mile-long road racecourse, was a technically demanding track, and the importance of track memorization is one of the basic requirements to achieve excellence in racing performance. Fully engaged in our practice session out on the track, riding with focus and concentration, I was just about to pass Carl on the inside of a long, very fast left bend. We were both flying along the track at around 100 mph (160 km/h). I prepared my move carefully, aligning myself to slide by him on his left to catch him smoothly diving into the turn, but I realized quickly that the bend was closing on me. This turn had a steeper left angle than I had assumed; I was going far too fast at this point and was running out of road, gravity pulling intensely on me. Only God’s intervention could prevent the worst from happening.
Instinctively I slammed the bike into a leaning angle, beyond any forgiving laws of modern physics. Heading into that turn at top speed, first the bike’s exhaust pipe and then the engine housing rebounded off the pavement and both wheels lifted off the track when the whole bike was catapulted into the air—and so did I. My only thought that moment was: Gravity sucks! I landed and then skidded along the pavement for a couple of hundred yards, intense friction burning the palms of my hands as my gloves were shredded by the asphalt before I started to roll over and over. In steady sequence I saw the black of the road, the green of the grass, the blue of the sky, the red and white of my battered bike, bouncing between air and earth above me…and then it was back to black as I finally passed out, coming to an abrupt stop when my body slammed with a dull sound into the metal guardrails.
There are moments in life where the human brain takes an event lasting only seconds and makes it feel like minutes or even hours dragging by. My personal little black-green-blue-red-white-black film was in reality instantaneous, yet in my memory, it seems like forever. I came around and lay there motionless and stunned in the grass on my back, my arms and legs stretched out, staring into the sky. All I saw was the color blue. I couldn’t breathe and my brain was numb after the shock and impact of the crash. My thoughts were confused, my body was incapacitated, and I had no idea how badly I might be injured.