300 mph Medicine: Dale Creasy Jr. ready to put accident behind him and return to track It is often said that laughter is the best form of medicine. That isn't necessarily the case for Dale Creasy Jr. Instead, Creasy prefers the smell of...
300 mph Medicine: Dale Creasy Jr. ready to put accident behind him and return to track
It is often said that laughter is the best form of medicine.
That isn't necessarily the case for Dale Creasy Jr.
Instead, Creasy prefers the smell of nitro and the rush of 300 miles per hour in less than five seconds as his medicine -- and so far it is working wonders for the 50-year-old Nitro Funny Car driver from Beecher, Illinois.
Having sat out the past year with a broken leg and multiple fractures in the lower portion of his body, Creasy is ready to put the accident that resulted in over a dozen surgeries and the loss of a potential championship season behind him and return to the track where it all happened later this month -- Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
"The hairs are standing up on my arm just thinking about it. I am so ready to get back in that car and hit the gas," Creasy said. "It is going to be a little nerve-racking, but after that many laps you don't forget."
Creasy will actually make his return to drag racing this weekend at the IHRA Nitro Nationals at Rocky Mountain Raceways in Salt Lake City, but it is his return to Castrol Raceway in a little over two weeks that has everyone talking.
"I look forward to getting this off my back. That track got me and I know it is not the tracks fault, it is nobodies fault really, I just have to get back out there so I can tell the track I win," Creasy said.
And for Creasy, getting back in a racecar and returning to the track where it all went down was all the motivation he needed to fight through the pain and the surgeries of the past year.
"That was the driving force because it was one of those things where you can't let it beat you," Creasy said. "You have to get back out there and you have to try it and see what happens. It may take a while to get used to the routine again because I haven't done it in so long, but you don't forget."
Creasy, a two-time IHRA world champion in Nitro Funny Car was well on his way to his third straight title when the accident occurred during the fifth race of the 2008 Nitro Jam season at Castrol Raceway in Canada.
Creasy had just completed a semifinal run against Grant Downing when the transmission broke off of the bell housing and began spinning around inside the car, hitting Creasy in the leg nearly two dozen times.
"It began pulling the right leg over to the left side and started pulling it under the transmission," Creasy said. "I didn't know it was that bad because I couldn't see with my helmet on. It took everything out of the cockpit. Every part, wire, cable and hose -- everything was twisted around."
By the time the car came to a stop Creasy was left with a crushed tibia, broken ankle and broken big toe on his left leg and multiple fractures in his right leg.
"I have never even heard of anything like this happening before," Creasy recalled. "I have heard of the thing breaking and people getting hurt, but nowhere near this extreme."
Following the accident Creasy had to undergo over a dozen surgeries and has spent countless hours learning to walk and reuse his left leg. And while he still has trouble walking and has a ways to go before he is fully recovered, Creasy said he is more than ready to get back in a racecar and continues to use that as motivation to keep fighting through any obstacles that comes his way.
"I just go through my routine every morning that I got from rehab and just keep working these legs," Creasy said. "It is going to take a while to get back to where I was, but it is getting better. I can get in the car and I can push the clutch down. It seems the biggest problem I have is just walking, but I am ready.
"I got in it and warmed it up the other day and it all started coming back to me. I know I haven't done it in a while and it will take some time to catch up, but I can't wait. I think it will be a blast."
Creasy will make his very first competitive pass of 2009 against the man who stole the title from him last season, 2008 NFC champ Terry Haddock. The two will face off at the first-ever Nitro Nationals at Rocky Mountain Raceways in Salt Lake City this weekend.
Immediately following this weekend's event, the two Nitro Funny Car competitors will continue their grudge match as they head north for another showdown at the River Cree Resort and Casino Rocky Mountain Nationals presented by Paradise RV July 3-5 at Castrol Raceway.
While Creasy admits that the trip back to Edmonton will be a bit nerve-racking, he has plans to give the track a proper salute following his first pass of the weekend.
"I told my brother that we are going to make a run in the same lane that got us and then I am going to get out and give that lane the bird. I want the track to know that I win," Creasy said with a laugh.
While the IHRA was very disappointed to have to cut Nitro Funny Cars from the fulltime schedule in 2009, the sanctioning body is very pleased to welcome Creasy back to competition at its next two national events.
"This is truly one of the best 'feel good' stories in the history of the IHRA," said IHRA President Aaron Polburn. "Dale is the poster child for never give up. The cars performance is secondary.
"Dale's performance over the past year has been an inspiration to all of us. I can not wait to see him behind the wheel again."
Now all that is left is for Creasy to shake off the cobwebs and jump back into the sport which has provided him the strength to get through the past few excruciating months.
"We have all the protective gear and the car is as safe as it can possibly be," Creasy said. "I am not worried about it, we just have to get a few things sorted out and once we get those things worked out we will be fine.
"This is something that less than 50 people in the world get to do and I truly feel lucky to be a part of that group. It is a feeling that is hard to explain, but I will tell you, it doesn't get any better than this."