Frank Heckenast Jr details his recovery from the crash in the 2017 DTWC

Frank Heckenast Jr: “When I went to the clinic they pretty much got rid of the headaches, the dizziness and everything. So, I feel pretty good.”

Frank Heckenast Jr discusses race scheduling options for 2019

At the end of 2017, Frank Heckenast Jr was involved in a crash in turn 1 at Portsmouth Raceway Park during the DTWC weekend.

He turned to the bottom in turn one. Just as he did that, another car filled the hole as they went three wide into the first corner, for the lead. They all banged wheels and Heckenast was launched a few inches into the air. Following the impact, something broke on the front end.

Heckenast went up the hill and pancaked the outside wall with the right side. He was still in the gas to try and help the car turn. The impact was great enough to rip the seat out of the car.

He climbed from the car under his own power. The car was carried on the hook to the pit area. After the race, Heckenast loaded up and even drove the hauler to McDonalds. But, he doesn’t remember any of that trip or anything about the crash.

Last winter, Heckenast was in and out of doctor appointments. He was chasing symptoms for several months following the crash. He ended up with a concussion and nerve damage in his neck.

At the time, they didn’t know exactly how to fix it. Heckenast would get dizzy at random moments throughout his day.

The team had plans to run the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series tour in 2018. However, his doctor advised him to sit out Florida Speedweeks, which he did.

Heckenast Jr climbed back into the car for the first time in March 2018 at LaSalle Speedway. In that race, he discovered that his ears were far more sensitive to the sound of the engine.

This story has finally come full circle as Heckenast is as healed as he’ll get.

What are your plans for next year? I know you had plans to run with the Lucas Tour in 2018.

“I’m not real sure to be honest,” Frank Heckenast Jr told . “We haven’t thought that far.”

“We’re trying to get through the season. It just costs so much money to get on the Lucas deal. We don’t have a main sponsor besides our family business.”

“If we get some sponsor help through the winter we’ll for sure try to run it. If not, we’ll do Arizona and the same schedule we did this year.”

Frank Heckenast Jr at Mansfield Motor Speedway 1597
Frank Heckenast Jr at Mansfield Motor Speedway 1597

Earlier in the year, you said you were struggling with the sound of the engine. It was giving you headaches if I remember right. Did you ever solve that?

“Yeah. Oh, it was bad.”

“We got really carried away with my ear buds. I got different ear buds. Then, I actually wet them and actually push them in.”

“I used to just never ever have to have them in, type of deal. I’d just let them float there so I could hear when they’re talking to me.”

“I got the one’s they build special for a specific person now. The good ones.”

“But, it’s so sensitive. Like, when they start the car in the pits and I’m back there, it’s just really loud to me. So, we got that problem solved.”

“When I went to the clinic they pretty much got rid of the headaches, the dizziness and everything. So, I feel pretty good.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be 100%. But, I feel good enough to race. I’m pretty much healed, I would say.”

What did they do at the clinic to fix that? I knew you were chasing a solution for several months there.

“I got a couple treatments. But mainly, I just got a big old shot into my main nerve on the right side. It was destroyed. So, I guess for easy terms, they like capped it off.”

“They shot a bunch of stuff in it — It was inflamed really bad. It was putting pressure points in my head. They got the inflammation down.”

“It’s been pretty good so far.”

Frank Heckenast Jr has picked up two wins in 2018.

Frank Heckenast Jr at PPMS 1597
Frank Heckenast Jr at PPMS 1597

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Frank Heckenast Jr | LOLMDS | DTWC | Portsmouth Raceway Park