Talladega: Jack Roush comments on past year, Part II

JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - Roush Racing Tauruses: At the Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning, Roush commented on one-year anniversary of his plane crash April 19, 2002. Part 2 of 2 DO YOU STILL WANT TO OWN THE KIND OF PLANE THAT YOU...

JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - Roush Racing Tauruses:

At the Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning, Roush commented on one-year anniversary of his plane crash April 19, 2002.

Part 2 of 2

DO YOU STILL WANT TO OWN THE KIND OF PLANE THAT YOU CRASHED?

"I have kind of done that. The airplane that I crashed, I went back and paid the man for the airplane (laughing). I've got all the debris. The carbon fiber propellers that are all shredded and the wing tank is split open and all the fabric - the red, white and blue stuff that was covering it with - and my daughter is gonna make a collage of it. Whether I choose to fly that thing from an armchair or whether I really want to get in another one, I haven't decided yet, but it's out there for me."

Jack Roush.
Photo by James Spires.
HOW SOON AFTER THE ACCIDENT DID YOU START FLYING AND WERE YOU APPREHENSIVE?

"That's a great question. I'm surprised when I was rambling that I didn't go there. This is a long answer to the question, I do that a lot. They told me when I was about to leave Ann Arbor after my little bit of physical therapy that I may not be thinking right yet.

"They told me not to make any decisions about the business, not to buy anything or sell anything. They said to go down to the Secretary of State office, which is where you get your driver's license in Michigan, and tell them that I had a head injury and that I was disabled in some way. They said they would probably put a note on the back of my driver's license that said if I'm involved in accident to give me some consideration.

"I said, 'Right, that's exactly what I'll do (laughing)." So, anyway, the day after I got out of the hospital I had two young men that came to see me. It took them 25 minutes to drive to see me. It was my car. They were both under my employment. They were both less than 25 years old. The one that was actually going to drive me was 19 and the 25-year-old had seniority and he decided he would send the 19-year-old in.

"So I thought, 'OK, I've got two people that are gonna be busy for about eight hours getting me to and from work today. This doesn't make a lot of sense. I haven't built this company like this.' So I'm hopping along on my walker towards the back of my car, I'm doing this math and thinking what it's costing me, and I looked over at the 19-year-old and said, 'Bill, do you mind riding with me today?' He looked at me and for a minute he saw his young career pass in front of him.

"It was one of those snap judgement decisions and it could be life-threatening as well and he said to me, 'Well Mr. Roush, I'll ride with you.' So he went to the right side of the car and I went to the left side and I drove. For a couple of days I wasn't that comfortable with it. I wasn't sure of my timing a little bit. I had been on my back for the better part of three weeks, so my equilibrium system as a little bit screwed up.

"Just to go on and finish checking it out, I went on and that was the last time they made a trip to come and get me. From the time I got out of the hospital - to start with, I was in the shop the first day for five hours, the next day for six hours and I worked my way into my normal 10-hour days. But on the Tuesday after that Thursday, which I drove to work for the first day, I got in my airplane and I flew to North Carolina.

"I had to see my race teams. They hadn't told me I should question whether or not I could fly. I had a pilot with me. Into the next week, my mother-in-law broke her hip and it was coming up on Memorial Day. I would have probably been in the suite watching Mark's win at Charlotte had my mother-in-law not broken her hip, but, anyway, my wife and two children at home and one son-in-law, we all needed to go down and check on grandmother.

"I called Dave up, who is the manager of our 727 program, and said, 'Hey Dave, you need to ride with me. I've got an extra car in Kentucky. You need to fly down there with me and then drive back, and then drive back on Sunday and we'll go to North Carolina.' He thought for a minute and said, 'This is Memorial Day weekend, why do I want to do that?' I said, 'Well, you flew with me. I'm brain damaged and I've got a bad leg.' He said, 'If you can use that leg to control the brake and the rudder as well as you did when I was with you, you don't need me. You're just fine. Go on and do your stuff.'

"So I loaded the wife and kids on the plane. As the wife is getting on, I couldn't believe she got on the plane. My son-in-law, he's in obedience training all the time (laughing). I pretty well keep him down and never give him a clear shot at the sun, so as we're getting on the airplane to go land on 3000 feet in Southern Kentucky, which is the limited distance this little jet is supposed to operate on - it's right there. You've got to land just right and stop just right to make it, and she got on the airplane.

"As surprised as I was that she got on the airplane, this is my wife Pauline, I was even more surprised when I closed the door and sailed my boot to the back and hopped in the seat that she hadn't screamed yet. I looked over at my son-in-law, Dale, and said, 'I can't believe she did it.' Of course, he's the one, like I said, I've never given any respect to and he looked at me and said, 'Well, she knew what you were up to and she asked me if it was OK and I said you'd be alright.' So I had the ultimate indignation, he had to vouch for me and get me going.

"Anyway, five weeks from the time they put my leg back together, the doctor in Michigan looked at my bones and said, 'You're 100 percent healed. You can put 50 percent weight on your leg right now, 100 percent on it as soon as you can stand the pain and you're strong enough,' and I went out and took my P-51 and I went straight up as fast as I could go and as high as I could go and I went straight down as fast as I could go and as low as I could go.

"I did the loop-dee-loop and the twirl-dee-twirl just to see if my head would stop when the airplane did and it was perfect (laughter)."

DID YOU GET SOME MEMORIES BACK THE OTHER NIGHT?

"I don't want to be critical of anybody that helped me because everybody who tried to help me probably did the right thing, but I lost two days of memory. My head concussion was not that bad.

"They tapped it and put a hole in it to see if it would make pressure and it was never out of the realm of normal. My eyes never got bloodshot, which I've had before with concussions. I didn't have a bad concussion, I had a bad leg injury, but I lost two days of memory.

"Thinking about that, I had them go back and check my medications. They had given me three shots of coma inducement. I don't recall the name of the drug, but the second one was 10 times the dose it should have been. It should have killed me and the third one they didn't write down, even though somebody was there and the doctor in Troy told him what he was doing. So I'm not sure what I had, but it wiped out two days.

"So I did not remember the flight in my 51 when I came down Thursday to Bessemer to meet with the people at Town and Country Ford. I did not remember the time I spent at Talladega before going on to Troy for my birthday party. So as I went back to Bessemer it was a time for some dej? vu. 'Do you remember this?' I remember the hotel, I remember the people, I remember the inside of the dealership. If somebody had asked me, 'Have you ever been here?' I would have said, 'Yes, but was it 10 years ago?'

"I wouldn't have put it together with that weekend, but I got one of my days back and it was great to do that. I got some hugs from some women that I probably shook hands with before and that was great (laughing). It was really super being there. The police gave us an escort, we had a limousine and we had fun."

Part I

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jack Roush