That moment – when your race car snaps in two

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It was meant to be just another licensing pass attempt for Vaughan Greentree in the supercharged “Undertaker” Hearse at Sydney Dragway’s Day Of The Drags event – that was before all hell broke loose.

If licensing a blown hemi powered race car for the first time is not daunting enough, imagine the feeling when it snaps in two – this is what Greentree was faced with recently when licensing the Greentree Family Racing “Undertaker” Hearse.

Greentree had completed a few launches in the car – ticking off the licensing requirement boxes – and was going for his first full pass when the rear end assembly collapsed after a bout of tyre shake sending the Hearse into a wild slide. Bar a light touch of the concrete Greentree showed skill far beyond his experience in saving the car from a much more catastrophic accident.

The accident was reminiscent of Peter Gratz in the late nineties when the entire rear end tore out of his ’57 Chev Top Doorslammer cutting the car in two. Luckily for Greentree the steel body work kept rear from totally breaking away and causing far more damage than what was already done.

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Greentree was able to step out of the wounded machine unharmed after the license run he will not soon forget as he describes what happened.

“Physically I am okay other than just a sore ankle,” said Greentree. “It was extremely violent and it was not until I got home that night and laid down in bed that I had the time to let the adrenaline go away and really assess what happened.”

“I thought it was rattling the tyres so I pulled second gear and by the time I shifted I was virtually looking back up the track. I realised the wall was coming up quick so I mainly just tried to keep the front end from getting the wall – so I hooked it back the other way just grabbing handfuls of steering wheel.

While Greentree may not come away from the event licensed, his handling of the incident was that of a veteran.

“It was by far the most surreal feeling I have ever experienced in my whole life,” said Greentree. “I’ve heard many a racer tell me how quick these things happen and I can totally agree with them now.”

“To be out of control but in control is just strange, I made sure I didn’t panic and do anything stupid. So I made sure I pulled the chutes and killed the motor before I stopped and then turned off all the power and tried to get myself out as quickly as possible – I was unstrapped and ready to get out before anyone could get to the car except I couldn’t open the door from the inside.”

When out of the car it was pretty clear what had just transpired.

“Once I was out of the car my crew told me that it had rattled the tyres that hard it snapped the heim joint on the ladder bar rear end, that is what sent me hard right,” he said.

The battle scarred Hearse will be repaired and Greentree is chomping to get back out and finish licensing.

“Me and Dad have looked at the car and have worked out that it hopefully should not be too hard to fix it. That may take us a little while as we don’t have any corporate sponsorship to help us, but we will be back bigger and badder than ever,” said Greentree.

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The car will go on the jig at John Willard’s Flatout Services to be checked out front to back, and a new four link rear end built to go in, the rest is mainly cosmetic damage to fix.

A humble Greentree would like to recognise those who helped him up to this point.

“I would firstly like to say sorry to my Dad as he has spent ample amount of money to get the car to where it was before the weekend,” he said, “I would also like to thank all my crew Garry, Jeremy, Travis, Scotty and everyone else who helped that day including Chris, Michael, Benny, Jeremy, Doug. Also to all of the Sydney Dragway A-Team and ANDRA Officials that responded so quickly to what happened – last but not least I would like to thank everyone else from the bottom of my heart for all the messages, phone calls and Facebook messages to see if I was doing ok, I really appreciate it.”

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