Injured racer keen to get back behind wheel

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012
Rick Fuller
Fairfax NZ
RICK FULLER: 'It was just one of those things.'
Rick Fuller of Wellington
MATT DUNCAN/Fairfax NZ
IN ACTION: Rick Fuller spins his stock car, left, during racing on the opening night at the Te Marua Speedway last month.

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A stockcar racer badly hurt in a crash at an Upper Hutt speedway is determined to get back on the track.

"It took me 40 years to get here, so I'm not going to stop now," Rick Fuller, 52, said from his bed at Wellington Hospital yesterday.

Mr Fuller, a butcher at Petone Pak 'n Save, has long had an interest in motorsport, but began speedway racing only two years ago with son Mikey, 24.

"We don't have as much money as some of the other guys, so we race when we can."

His car smashed into a concrete wall at Te Marua Speedway at 8pm on Saturday and he was trapped in the wreckage for more than an hour.

He was cut free by on-track emergency services, and flown to Wellington Hospital by the Westpac rescue helicopter.

His condition was initially listed as serious, but he improved during the weekend, to be in a stable condition yesterday. He was still in a lot of pain, though, with internal injuries and bruising to much of his body.

He could remember nothing about the crash, in which he was hit from behind and shunted into the wall at high speed.

"It was just one of those things. If it hadn't been for all the safety improvements, it could have been a lot worse."

Te Marua Speedway had a safety upgrade before racing began this season. A wire safety fence and raised concrete wall were installed at a cost of $150,000.

Another driver, who did not want to be named, said it was a "pretty nondescript" crash. "He went into the corner at a slightly wrong angle and was tapped by a following car."

Mr Fuller's car slammed hard into the wall. "There was nothing more than that."

Stockcar rules allow drivers to bump into each other. The cars reach speeds of 80 to 100kmh on the tight dirt circuit, which is surrounded by concrete barriers and netting.

Mr Fuller wanted to thank the people who helped him after the crash, from trackside paramedics, to the rescue helicopter crew and staff at Wellington Hospital.

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- The Dominion Post

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