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Reynolds details depression fight after horror crash

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Reynolds details depression fight after horror crash
By:
Mar 4, 2020, 12:59 AM

Supercars star David Reynolds has detailed his battle with 'severe' depression following the horror rallying crash that claimed the life of co-driver Paul Flintoft back in 2007.

The crash, a lesser-known part of Reynolds' rise to Australian motorsport's professional ranks, happened during his days as a HSV-contracted driver.

The then 22-year-old was drafted into a HSV-backed tarmac rallying programme based around the V8-powered Elfin MS8 clubman, Reynolds paired with experienced co-driver Paul Flintoft for the Mount Buller Sprint tarmac rally.

Tragically the Elfin left the road during the event, 42-year-old Flintoft fatally injured in the crash while Reynolds was air-lifted to Royal Alfred Hospital in Melbourne to be treated for bruising to his brain.

While he suffered no permanent physical injuries, the crash did have a lasting psychological effect on Reynolds.

Speaking about the crash in detail for the first time, the 2017 Bathurst winner told the V8 Sleuth podcast that he went through years of torment and depression in the aftermath of the crash.

"That was the absolute worst time of my life," he told host Aaron Noonan.

"There was nothing anybody was going to say or do to make me feel better. It took me years to get over.

"I had a lot of help. I was counselled about it, went and got professional help, got hypnotised... everything to try and help myself feel better and come to terms with what happened.

"It was that bad that... at the time the police got their story wrong, and I think they told my parents that I'd died. My parents were at that race. I still haven't really asked them [about it], I probably should. But when I talk about it now I still shake.

"I had a bruised brain. Luckily there was no bleeding. I kind of got away unscathed. I had cuts and bruises. But the images I saw were way too horrific for me to ever forget.

"I went through a really, really, really shit time of my life. It took me years to feel better. I'll never really get over it, I don't think. But it's something I have to live with.

"I was severely depressed for many years after that. I still think about it in times when I'm a bit down, it still gets me down and I remember Paul and everything that happened.

"I'm still hurt by it, and it was 13 years ago. The images are burnt into my skull. When I'm a little bit depressed it does resurface.

"That's why I try and keep myself busy so it doesn't resurface. That's why I try and do so much so I don't sit at home and think about shit times."

Reynolds says he was concerned about both the car and his own lack of tarmac rally experience heading into the event.

"It was just a bad situation," he said.

"The car they gave me wasn't up to scratch; it didn't stop well, the suspension was all dodgy. It just had a really powerful engine, which made it a bit of a death trap.

"I remember walking around the week of the race, at HSV, saying 'this is probably the last week you'll ever see me'."

When pressed on why he went through with the event despite those reservations, Reynolds added: "I was a young kid. I knew what I was getting in to, but I didn't want to disappoint anyone by saying 'I don't think we should do this'.

"I can't say no to things. I was telling people in a roundabout way, but I didn't go and tell the people that I needed to tell.

"We did a lot of work on the car, we tried to make it better. Myself and Paul went up there the week before and mapped out the whole stage, and did many, many runs to figure out the corners and all the numbers.

"He was unbelievable at his job."

Reynolds, who had won't that year's Carrera Cup title, returned to the seat of a race car for the first time a month after the crash – however he had to cut a ride day with the HSV Dealer Team short after going off on his first lap.

He was back in full competition the following season in Super2, before making a short-lived appearance as a full-time in the Supercars main game with Walkinshaw Racing in 2009.

It wasn't until he joined Kelly Racing in 2011 that Reynolds got a proper foothold at the top tier of the Aussie series.


The following support services are available for people suffering depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns:

Australia: Lifeline, 13 11 14
UK: Samaritans, 116 123
USA: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255
Worldwide: www.befrienders.org

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About this article

Series Supercars
Drivers David Reynolds
Author Andrew van Leeuwen