Champ's lucky break
Thursday, 10th March, 2011
By John Casey
Former world championship sidecar runner-up Rick Howse has vowed to fight back from a spectacular crash that was only centimetres away from ending his decorated career.
Howse and sidecar partner Adam Commons were both lucky to survive after they flipped their Yamaha SZR1000 during the NSW State championship final here on Saturday, February 19.
Howse will spend the next 12 months with a 40-centimetre steel rod and three screws implanted in his right leg and doctors in Adelaide told him he was lucky not to have lost his hip completely.
"If my femur (the longest, largest and strongest bone in the body) had been broken just a little bit higher then I would have needed a hip replacement and that probably would have been the end of my career," Howse said yesterday.
"I'll be on crutches for six to eight weeks and the steel rod will stay in the leg for 12 months, so I won't be back racing until October 2012 at the earliest.
"The doctor said I could race with the rod in my leg, but if I had a crash then the steel would probably smash my leg to pieces, so I'm prepared to wait until I have the metal removed," Howse continued.
He said he had little recollection of the high-speed crash, which was the most serious in his near 30-year racing career.
"I remember going into the corner and then it all went black," Howse said.
"My next memory is being lifted into the ambulance, so there is a good 10 minutes that is unaccounted for there."
Howse's wife Alison and seven-year-old son Max were among the shocked crowd and eye witnesses said racing partner Adam Commons was flung some 20 metres into the fence.
"We were both knocked out for some time and Adam was thrown into the fence and I was hammered by the bike which smashed my leg," Howse added.
Commons, who amazingly escaped relatively unscathed, is still struggling with a sore neck and headaches almost three weeks after the spill.
Their racing bike, which Howse and Commons used to set a new track record at Gillman in South Australia in December, was ripped into pieces and will need an estimated $5000 in repairs.
"We'd only just put the bike back together and it was going really well," a disappointed Howse said.
Doctors have told him they are happy with the results of his operation and that the wounds were healing as they anticipated.
"I had two days in hospital after being flown from Broken Hill to Adelaide by the Flying Doctor and I'm expecting to start some physiotherapy next week," Howse said.