Larry Dixon update, interview 2000-10-10

Following is an update/interview with NHRA Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon late Tuesday evening from his home in Indianapolis. Dixon is scheduled for outpatient surgery at Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital on Wednesday afternoon. Q: First off,...

Following is an update/interview with NHRA Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon late Tuesday evening from his home in Indianapolis. Dixon is scheduled for outpatient surgery at Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

Q: First off, how are you feeling and what is your current health status?

A: I feel like I was in the ring with Mike Tyson for six seconds! Seriously, I have a break in my left Fibula about three inches up from the ankle. I have been walking around on it on my own. It doesn't even feel as painful as a sprained ankle. The bone that broke is not a load-bearing bone, so there is not much pain. I am scheduled for outpatient surgery on Wednesday afternoon where they will insert a small pin, not a plate. The pin will only require about two stitches, where the plate would need about 10 to 12. I should be home later that night. I also have a pretty good black eye too.

Q: What can you tell us about your accident during the final round in Memphis on Sunday?

A: I am still pissed we lost that round! I never saw Gary Scelzi at all as I was going down the track. I guess it was about three-quarters of the way down the track when I saw the front end of the car break off and that's when I first realized that we were going to crash. That's pretty much the last thing I remember until I woke up when they were putting me in the ambulance. When I woke up I didn't feel any pain, I was just dazed more than anything. Your body goes through a ton of stuff in a situation like that, so I was really dazed. I remember talking to (wife) Ali, seeing (Snake racing teammate, Ron) Capps, and asking if we had won the race, but no one knew. Then the next thing I know, it's time to take a ride in the helicopter.

Q: When you realized you were in trouble, was there anything you tried to do inside the car?

A: In our cars we our traveling so fast that when something like this happens, you are pretty much just along for the ride. It's like being in a roller coaster going 275 mph - it's pretty hard to catch anything at that point.

Q:  There was some work being done on the chassis of your car after the 
semifinal round.  Did that have anything to do with the crash?

A: The chassis broke in a different spot than where we were working on it, so it didn't have anything to do with what happened during the semifinals. Hopefully we will have a better idea why this happened later this week.

Q: In your opinion, how do you feel about the way the accident was handled from a safety crew and medical team standpoint?

A: From the way our cars are constructed, to the safety equipment we use, to the safety crews and teams - everything and everybody involved worked just as expected. To go through something like that and one day later walk out of the hospital unassisted - it just goes to show why we have all the safety rules and equipment because it all works.

Q: Will your surgery keep you from racing in Dallas (Oct. 19-22)?

A: I guess it might be considered uncommon in drag racing, but guys like Rusty Wallace and Darryl Waltrip get out there and drive with pins, nuts, and bolts in their bodies for hundreds of miles, so I don't think driving with a small little pin for 4 ½ seconds is all that much to brag about. Look at Rusty when he barrel-rolled in the MGD car - that was violent with all those cars hitting him. He got a pin in his leg and was back racing in Rockingham the next week. To me, this might be a big deal in drag racing, but it doesn't seem that big a deal in motorsports overall. The guys are working on getting the Miller Lite Dragster ready in time for Dallas.

Q: What did you think when you saw your accident on television the first time?

A: I watched the replay on RPM2Night this (Tuesday) morning and on the Speedvision tapes today at the shop. Compared to Tony Schumacher's, it wasn't that bad at all.

Q: In addition to Tony's leg injuries, he is reported to have suffered damage to his teeth. You are one of a few drivers that wear a mouthpiece. Did that help during your accident?

A: Maybe I am a little overprotective, but all of the safety equipment I use is there for a reason, for the exact reason like a situation like that. My father-in-law crashed in Dallas a couple of years ago and afterward he asked me if I wore a mouthpiece, and if not, told me I needed to start wearing one. I have worn one ever since. I remember Del Worsham's accident in Norwalk and he said later that he wished he had worn one. All my teeth are still there, so it works if you use it.

Q: You have been working for Don Prudhomme for a long time now. How has Snake been throughout all this?

A: Snake is doing fine. He is actually heading home this evening (Tuesday). He is the one who brought us home to Indianapolis from Memphis and got us settled in, and later drove me over to the doctor's. Snake has been just great. We have more than just a business relationship between us. I care a lot about him and obviously he cares a lot about me. I think that really just shows how close a team we are.

* For those wishing to send cards or letters, please use the following address; Don Prudhomme Racing 1232 Distribution Way Vista, CA 92083

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Series NHRA
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Larry Dixon , Del Worsham , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Don Prudhomme