One week after a terrifying wreck at Talladega that could have ended so much worse, Eric McClure made a public appearance at Darlington to talk about the injury, NASCAR's response, and his plans to race again.
In the wreck that came in the closing laps of the Talladega Nationwide race, McClure appeared to drive straight into the inside wall. He suffered a concussion and mild (relatively speaking) internal injuries. While McClure only remembers "bits and pieces" of the time during and after the wreck, he did recall that his brakes were gone as he tried to stop:
"I hit the brakes when I saw the smoke, and they just weren't there," he said. "It was a little bit of a heart-sinking feeling. It created the impression that I was speeding up or going faster than everyone when I hit, which obviously I was."
The brakes-are-out phenomenon has cost many a driver their lives, so it's good news that the safety cage, the head restraint and the walls held strong. Inspections of McClure's car later found that the car itself was intact, though the steering wheel had broken off.
McClure has four daughters, ranging in age from two months to five years, and he noted that having them at the track (though not witnessing the accident) added a layer of heartache to the day.
"There were some times with family when everything died down that made me understand how lucky I was and thankful I had a family like that," he said. "This week has been good. The 3-year-old brought stethoscopes in and said she'd make my heart better and try to rub the bruises. They've been really sweet."
As for his future? "I live to race," he said. "Sometimes I question how good I am, but I never had a doubt about it." He said he will return to the track once he's cleared by NASCAR, though there is as yet no timetable for his return.
One positive note: McClure noted that Mario Andretti had called him "one tough dude" on Twitter. Any time you can get Mario to say that, you've done something ... if not necessarily something you'd want to do again.