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Jay Turner relives terrifying crash at Mardi Gras Nitro Jam

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Jay Turner relives terrifying crash at Mardi Gras Nitro Jam


Nitro Harley class gearing up for western stretch




BATON ROUGE, La. (February 28, 2011) – The scene was terrifying, the mood in the air tense. For a couple of moments it wasn’t known whether or not longtime Nitro Harley competitor Jay Turner was hurt, or worse.




The sold out crowd at State Capitol Raceway stood on their seats, leaned on the fences, anything to try and catch a glimpse of the man who, just moments before, was rushing down the quarter-mile on only one tire, blasting fire out of the pipes at over 150 miles per hour all to the amusement of one of the largest crowds to ever watch a drag race in the state of Louisiana. But now all they were seeing were the flashing lights of emergency crews surrounding the two-time champ.




For a few minutes the loudest sport in the world was reduced to silence. For a few moments thousands of fans, officials and even fellow competitors were reminded just how dangerous this sport can be. Despite all of the pageantry, despite all the flashy cars and can-you-believe it moments the sport of drag racing creates, behind the wheel, or in this case behind the handlebars, are human beings doing what they love most all while trying to put on a show for the fans.



And then word came down from the top end. Jay was alright. He had cheated death once again.




It was a moment those in attendance will never forget and it was certainly a moment the veteran rider from North Carolina will never forget.




One moment Turner is barreling down the Louisiana strip in the fastest bike class in the world, running the second quickest lap of the session to place him in the final later that night, the next he is sliding on his back toward the wall at over 150 miles per hour, bracing as best as he can for impact. It was a terrifying moment for the fans and an even scarier moment for Turner.




“All I could think about was how bad this was going to hurt,” Turner said. “Everything was smooth and great until the handlebars came off the bike in my hands and my body rose up. As soon as that happened the wind caught me and suddenly I was in for the ride of my life.”




For what seemed like an eternity Turner slid on his back just past the finish line, eventually curling into a ball moments before impact with the left side retaining wall. In a cloud of smoke Turner slapped the wall, eventually tumbling to a stop a few hundred feet from where the incident began. Further ahead of him his bike slammed into the sand trap, leaving nothing but pieces and a frame to clean up.




“I slid for as long as I could on my back and I wanted to try something else so I curled into a ball and rolled,” Turner said. “It all happened so fast it didn’t even feel real. When the handlebars came off the left side was still hooked to the bike via the brake line and that is what pulled me off the bike to the left.”




Within seconds of coming to a stop Turner was surrounded by one of the best safety teams in the business as the International Hot Rod Association’s Safety First crew tended to him on the track. After a few tense moments Turner was helped to his feet and he walked to the ambulance under his own power all to the thunderous approval of the Louisiana fans. He was a little shaken, but he was alright.




And then something strange happened.




While Turner was sitting in the back of the ambulance, all he could think about was his bike and what it would take to get back out on the track and finish the weekend. While he knew it was an impossible feat to return that same night, Turner had an idea that eventually led to one of the most exciting comeback stories the sport of drag racing has ever seen.




“When I was in the ambulance I knew I wanted to come back. I knew I had to get another bike and conquer this track,” Turner said. “Of course I was sore and, even though the damage wasn’t as bad as it looked, there was no way we were getting that bike back out that weekend.”




With an idea in place, Turner immediately went to work lining up another bike to finish the weekend. At the same time, the crowds gathering outside his pit area began to grow as fans lined up just to check up on him and make sure he was alright.




“It was heartwarming that there were so many people who were concerned about me and checking up on me,” Turner said. “It makes you even more motivated when you see just how much this means to some people.”



After some much needed rest and a long morning of preparation, the stage was finally set on the final day of the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam at State Capitol Raceway as Turner rolled out a brand new bike and made two more passes to close out the weekend. And while a few gremlins with the new bike prevented him from producing the kind of numbers he was capable of, he was still pleased to be able to get back out there and put on a show for the fans.




“Honestly when something like that happens of course it sticks with you, but when you are on the bike all you are thinking about is making a smooth, clean run,” Turner said. “The moment I fired that thing up I never thought for a second about what happened Saturday night. All I wanted to do was get down the track and that is what we did.”




Matching the persona created by these rough, outlaw types that make up the Nitro Harley division, Turner shrugged off much of the attention that was drawn to him over the weekend as “no big deal” as he went about the weekend business as usual. What mattered most to Turner, he says, was that he and his teammates were able to put on a good show and put together solid runs after struggling during the season opener back in January.




“The first race was a struggle for everyone because it was so early in the year. By the time we got to Baton Rouge we were able to put it together and get all four bikes down the track,” Turner said. “We also put down some great numbers and of course that is our main goal as a group to make our shows better while running quicker and more consistent times.”




Of course Turner’s weekend was anything but ordinary as the veteran racer lived through a horrifying accident and followed it up with a return to the track that will leave Nitro Jam fans talking for some time. And even though Turner didn’t win during his two-day stay in Baton Rouge, that honor went to Steve Dorn and Mike Scott, Turner’s amazing feat will forever be a reminder of just how dangerous, especially on two wheels, this sport can be.




Now Turner and his band of roughriders will pack up and head west along with the rest of the Nitro Jam show for a pair of stops in Arizona and Texas at Southwestern International Raceway in Tucson the weekend of March 25-26 and San Antonio Raceway in San Antonio the weekend of April 1-2.




Don’t miss the Nitro Harley division and three additional nitro classes including Top Fuel Dragsters, Prostalgia Nitro Funny Cars and Fuel Altereds as they do battle alongside a number of extras including jet dragsters, the “Cool Bus” wheelstanding school bus and the monster showdown between the Grave Digger monster truck and the Super Shockwave jet truck. Visit www.nitrojam.com for more information!

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