Buckingmam lost a chassis, motor, transmission and rear end in the crash after the head on impact with the pit wall
Buckingham was thankful not to be injured after hitting the infield pit wall head on. The driver walks through the incident and the team is moving forward.
On Thursday, Faytteville Motor Speedway hosted the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event. The track saw weather earlier in the week and it brought challenges of a rough track as drivers searched for the $10,000 payout.
Shanon Buckingham has been running full-time with the LOLMDS in 2019. Coming into the event, he sat 12th in series standings.
Buckingham made two pit stops during the event. After the second one, he was moving forward through the field.
On Lap 33 of 50, Buckingham saw himself heading directly toward the infield pit gate opening at a high rate of speed.. He hit the wall head on at the end of the front straight.
The red flag was deployed. Buckingham climbed from the seat under his own power and stood on the roof as the crowd welcomed him out of the cockpit to cheers.
Shanon Buckingham on the crash at Fayetteville Motor Speedway
“We’d been running poorly in the back. A couple of those cautions came out, I went in the pits and made a couple adjustments.”
“On the second adjustment, the car really responded and came to life. I was still in the back and had to restart at the tail.”
“But we were able to move forward and catch some guys. I really put myself in a bad spot. I was trying to split Earl Pearson Jr and Dustin Mitchell.”
“I hesitated for a second and then the gap stayed there. So, I went ahead and pushed through. And really thought I’d done made the pass.”
“I drove by Earl and Dustin. And felt like I was in front of them. I’m not blaming it on them. The track was really rough and it was hard to stay off people.”
“Mitchell got into my left rear, actually twice. The first time it squirrel’d me and the second time, it just turned me left. Of course, we were wide open at a pretty high rate of speed. It just sent my trajectory toward that inside wall.”
“I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t turn. At the last second, I just let go of the steering wheel. It hit pretty good.”
“It pretty well junked it all. Frame, busted the motor, ripped the transmission in half and broke the rear end. Pretty much a total loss.”
Does that change anything for you as far as the tour or scheduling goes?
“We have a brand new frame with a deck and a cockpit sitting at the shop. It needs to be put together now. Luckily, we’ve got next weekend off.”
“My guys work really hard. We’ll scrap and put in some midnight hours to get that thing going. We’ll try to keep it as a spare.”
“This one here is my favorite,” Buckingham pointed to the backup that was unloaded the following night at Cherokee Speedway. “So, we’ll turn this one into our primary.”
“We’ll try to keep the new one in as good a shape as we possibly can. The original plan was to keep it at the shop until the World 100 and break it out brand new. That will still be the plan, but it will sit in the hauler as the backup.”
“I also have a crate car sitting there too. I could take the crate engine out and put my super stuff on it. So, we’ve got some options.”
“We’ve got some good sponsors. Unlike most, I’m in a good situation to recover. But, it was a hard hit. Nobody wants to lose their primary car that they run every week.”
Anytime I’ve seen or talked to Shanon Buckingham, he’s given me the impression of an extremely calm individual. This interview was no different as we sat on the tailgate of his hauler.
So, it was a bit of a surprise to see Buckingham climb on the roof in a hurry, borderline excitement, after the crash at Fayetteville. He stood on the rood with his arms raised and the radio cord still attached.
You stood up on the roof, all jacked up after that. Was that you just excited that you were ok?
“Before I hit, I knew it was going to be bad. People don’t realize that racers don’t really drive around thinking, ‘Oh, I’m scared’ or ‘That’s a scary move.’ “
“I mean, you just race. Yes, it’s fast but you don’t really think about the speed. Once you’re used to doing it, the speed isn’t really relevant. It’s all about grip and traction.”
“But, in a moment like that when you’re fixing to hit the wall head on, the speed is much more apparent. It scared me a little, right before the impact. I knew it was going to be a hard one. I don’t know that I’ve hit that hard on a straight line before.”
“It rattled me for just a second. When I hit, everything hurt. Then, within just a few seconds I realized, ‘Hey, there ain’t nothing broke, I’m fine.’ “
“As I climbed out, the crowd just jumped up and cheered. So, I just went with it. They’re there to see a race. Even though my day ended and turned sour fast… I just tried to make something good out of it.”
“Maybe it will make another fan or sell a t-shirt. It sucks. Racers don’t like crashing but I know to fans, for the most part, it’s entertaining to them.”
“What am I going to do? Sit there and cry about it? Hell, I just tried to roll with it.”
“They were all cheering. And honestly, I was pretty happy that none of my fingers or toes were broke. It was a happy moment there for a second.”
Are you sore today?
“Yeah, a little bit,” Buckingham stated the day (Friday) after the crash.
“Last night, I felt pretty good. I banged my elbow pretty hard. I thought I was going to be fine. As it got later, I started getting a little more stiff.”
“When I woke up this morning, I was pretty sore. I jumped down and got my day going. I feel pretty good honestly.”
“I probably would have been half this sore just from riding around on that rough track. And the track owner called me. He apologized for the situation.”
“Obviously, he didn’t want it to be rough like that. He has a good appreciation for what these race cars cost. He said he had done some racing himself.”
“It’s not like it was a planned event for it to be that rough. He was apologetic and was checking on me.”
“For the team, I hate to lose that car. It’s obviously a financial loss. But, everybody’s been really kind and sent messages. It makes you feel good to know you’ve got fans, friends and people that care.”
“We might go out there and tear fenders off in the feature or the heat race. But, at the end of the day, I think everybody’s genuinely concerned for their fellow racer. I got a decent dose of that last night.”
“Just thankful to have the resources and sponsorship to be able to absorb that and keep going. I know for a lot of guys, that would set them way back or maybe even end some careers, possibly mine at one time, when I was paying for my own stuff.”
“Super thankful for Roger Sellers and Lazydays RV. Those guys keep us funded well enough that we can take a hit and keep going.