FORMULA FORD DRIVER HURT HAVING 'BEST RACE' OF HIS LIFE
Shane Jantzi, the Formula Ford driver from Ayr who was involved in a mighty crash on the last lap of the Can Am Cup Challenge race at Mosport on Sunday, is back home today with a king-size headache as well as a badly wrecked race car but the desire to keep racing appears to be burning as strongly as ever.
“I’ve got a big concussion,” said Jantzi, who crashed while trying to win the Can Am trophy for the sixth straight time.
“Thank goodness we put in a new seat over the winter, and I was wearing my HANS device, or I would have broken my neck” he said about the accident in which his Formula Ford race car flew backwards off the track in Mosport’s Turn One and ploughed straight into a tire wall at just about full speed (the F-Fords average about 100 mph around Mosport).
Track safety officials and medical personnel took between 15 and 20 minutes to get Jantzi out of his car and onto a backboard before taking him to the Control Tower medical centre for evaluation.
“My head really hurt and I was dizzy so they took me to the hospital in Bowmanville where I had an MRI,” he said. “The doctor there told me I had a big concussion but that there wasn’t any swelling, so that was good news.”
Now that he’s on the road to recovery – and he’s got some time for that because he’s on parental leave from his job until Labour Day – Jantzi is disappointed he didn’t win the Cup again and critical of race officials who, he says, may have contributed to his accident.
First, the competition.
Six years ago, EFormulaCarNews.com put up a trophy – the Can Am Cup – for a special, once-a-year, Formula Ford shootout race open to anyone with a race-legal Formula Ford 1600 car and Jantzi won that first race going away. Nobody else has ever won it; he’s successfully defended it ever since.
Sunday at Mosport, Jantzi was aiming to make it six straight. At the beginning of the last lap, and running second at the time, Jantzi went to pass eventual winner Mathew DiLeo of Innisfil, only to have his car clipped by a spinning backmarker.
Said Jantzi: “I really wanted to win that Cup. Somebody else could have it after I retired; that’s how I felt.
“So I went to pass the backmarker who was also being passed by Mathew. Mathew was on the inside and was as close to the pit wall (that runs down through Turn One) as he could be because the fellow kept moving down on him.
“Suddenly, there was a puff of smoke, because their cars touched. The backmarker started to spin. I thought I’d cleared him but the back of his car just touched mine and that spun me around.
“I hit the wall a ton and I knew I was hurt. I thought right away that this wasn’t good. It was the hardest thing I’ve hit in my life. I blacked out for a second but otherwise I was aware of everything going on. I’ve been hurt before, so I didn’t move because I didn’t want to maybe aggravate something.
“I wasn’t sure exactly where on the track I was and the safety people took away my glasses. I can’t see a thing without my glasses so I couldn’t tell where I was.
“It’s a real bummer because I was having the best race of my life. I started seventh and I know I could have passed Mathew on that last lap and kept the Cup.”
Now the criticism: Jantzi, a veteran racer, is concerned that no blue passing flags were apparently waved.
“I didn’t see any blue flags,” he said, “and I’ve asked some of the other people involved and they didn’t see any either. It wasn’t the backmarker’s fault (Jantzi never identified the third driver) because I’m not sure he knew he was about to be lapped. That's what the blue flags are for - to tell people they're about to be passed.
“I know there was no blue flag shown at the start/finish line and nobody can remember seeing one at Turn One. What’s that all about? But, as Brian (Stewart) says, ‘it is what it is,’ I guess.”
Jantzi said because his racing is a hobby that involves his whole family, he has to talk to his parents about repairing the race car. As of last night, he wasn’t sure there would be money to race again this season.
But he said, one way or another, he'd return to race again.
He was also quick to quash a suggestion that he might be finished for the year.
“I’m really not sure about that,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”