Watkins Glen II: The Racer's Group race report

TRG Finish 4th at Watkins Glen; Buckler Hurt in Crash Watkins Glen, NY -- August 13, 2004 -- The ...

TRG Finish 4th at Watkins Glen; Buckler Hurt in Crash

Watkins Glen, NY -- August 13, 2004 -- The #66 F1 Air/Gleason Agency Porsche of Chris Gleason, RJ Valentine and Ian James finished today's Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at Watkins Glen 4th in class, after a wet and eventful race wiped out a significant portion of the field. Team owner and driver of the #67 TRG Porsche Kevin Buckler was involved in a horrific crash in turn 11 of Watkins Glen International, but thankfully suffered less injury than were immediately thought.

All cars in the race were running slicks due to dry conditions when a squall suddenly hit parts of the circuit. Buckler entered turn 11 as normal, but because of the recent downpour in that section of the track, his car caromed straight through the turn and headlong into the retaining wall at nearly 70mph. His car wasn't alone in the wreck; over the next 30 seconds, a total of six other cars exited the track in exactly the same place and manner. Buckler's car, buried in Styrofoam, was knocked further sideways when another Porsche slammed into the wall to his left. Seconds later, a wayward Corvette smashed into the rear of Buckler's immobilized car, demolishing the Porsche and causing damage to the Corvette and further injuries to Buckler.

"I was sitting in the car fazed from the first impact," Kevin said, "and I went to undo my belts to get out of the car quickly. I couldn't reach around to the radio and drinks wires behind my head, so I ended up ripping them off of their fixtures in the car just to get out of there. The left side of the car was totally caved in, so I leaned over to my right just as the other car smashed into me. That knocked me around pretty good in the car, and the impact was bigger than I've ever felt before -- it was pretty stunning. When I got out of the car, my right leg and shoulder were pretty mangled -- the ambulance arrived on the scene pretty quickly to take me away. I was nervous about getting run over, because the cars were strewn about like it was a war zone."

Buckler was examined at the track's medical facilities before being transported to Elmira, NY for care at a trauma unit. X-rays, a CT scan and blood tests all came back negative, and the worst of Kevin's injuries was a mild concussion. He was treated and released late on Friday night, and will fly home to California tomorrow as scheduled.

"I've done a lot of sports in my life and have had some pretty serious injuries before," he said, "but I've never had any sort of collision that big before. It's a testament to the safety equipment in our cars that I'm not more hurt -- the HANS device and roll cage saved me from a pretty scary wreck. I feel bad for [co-driver] Liz, she didn't get to drive today, and she had been doing really well in the rain yesterday. On the other hand, the guys in the #66 car had another solid race -- the weather conditions really affected everyone's game, but it was another good finish for them. They're still very much in the championship hunt, and I'm proud of them for it."

The Grand-American Rolex Sports Car Series next races at Homestead, FL, just south of Miami.


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Ian James , Chris Gleason