TRAPPED IN A BURNING RACE CAR, PART V: One Year Later

Categories: Short Track Racing.

Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance

It’s been a full year since a mechanical malfunction caused my race car to burst into flames at Circuit of the Americas, sending me to intensive care with life threatening injuries. The whole story is here. Rather than revisiting the past, this blog will provide an update on the miraculous healing that’s taken place over the last 12 months and a big “thank-you” to all who have lent such wonderful support.

The mishap occurred on February 13, 2016, leaving me with 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns over seven percent of my body. The worst injuries were on my face, hands, right arm and right leg. I remain in scar therapy and just visited the burn center again this week. Doctors told me on Wednesday that my recovery was “amazing” considering I’ve had no surgery so far.

Thankfully, my face continues to heal and the new skin is still responding to scar treatment. All of my bandages are gone except for a small, clear compression strip that covers my nose and under my right eye 23 hours per day. Laser surgery remains a long term possibility but so far the healing has gone very well. The scars on my right arm and hand are still visible and may be for life. But again, that’s something I can live with.

In December I began experiencing a series of massive headaches that struck once or twice per day. My chiropractor was horrified to learn that no x-rays had been taken of my spine while I was in the hospital following the accident. X-rays were taken in December and revealed serious spinal damage to my upper neck. The occipital bone had jarred loose when I fell awkwardly out of the race car, which was cutting off blood flow to the brain (my wife has already used up all the jokes).

The blood flow was so poor that I was in danger of a stroke, but after eleven treatments the headaches are nearly gone and the damaged areas of the spine are responding well. I unknowingly drove with the injury most of last season and will again be cleared to compete by April.

Meanwhile, some amazing opportunities have poured in this year. I have a full time ride in the Super Cup Stock Car Series. Surprisingly, there is no conflict with my TV schedule on NBCSN so I hope to run the full schedule and compete for the national title.

I got an email from Madrid in January asking me to drive in the Electric GT Championship, which will hold 7 events in Europe and three more in the Americas. Two weeks later, the series asked if I would also drive their entry at the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb, which I was also delighted to accept.

The Super Cup season ends in August while the EGT Championship begins in August, so it looks I can run both in Europe and the USA without conflict. I’ve also received a ride offer from a World Racing League sports car team that’s running for the national championship and I hope to work that into my schedule as well.

On a day to day basis I’m leading a mostly normal life again. I’ve been off all medication since last fall. Pain levels are low and manageable. Scars are slowly mending. The horrible, eternal itching is finally beginning to dissipate. The nightmares and flashbacks are gone. After a few months I was able to stand near a fire again so I could grill hot dogs with my kids last summer (not as easy as it sounds).

Considering the gravity of the injuries, I am very thankful for my current situation. Could have been much worse. I’m humbled by the support and prayers I’ve received from more people than I ever expected, and I hope you will accept my most sincere gratitude.

Stephen Cox

Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions

Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN

Driver, Electric GT Championship ~ Super Cup Stock Car Series ~ World Racing League

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