Stories

Mike Petersilie pulls onto the track for his modified heat race in Boone, Iowa.

Great shot, tough luck

If you know Mike Petersilie, you know he's a pretty laid-back guy.

So when I asked him if it was OK to put an in-car camera along for his modified heat race Wednesday night at the 30th annual IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, Petersilie sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, "That's fine."

As he sat in the staging lane before his heat, I turned the camera on and gave him a thumbs up. He signaled back with one of his own.

Then he went out and provided some dramatic footage -- unfortunately.

Petersilie rocketed out of turn four at the drop of the green flag. But as he shot high in turn one, his car slid off the track and rolled.

My first thought was for his safety, not the camera.

A disappointed Petersilie walked away unscathed, luckily.

In just a few seconds, the thousands in attendance got a glimpse of just how dangerous racing can be.

Drivers put their lives on the line every time they buckle into a car and head out to tear around the dirt oval at tracks across the country. Petersilie and Team Xtreme -- also consisting of modified driver Jesse Richter and sport mod driver Brenden Damon -- are no different.

Danger is waiting around the next corner, literally, and drivers have to face that fact every night.

It was the first time Petersilie had rolled a modified, and the only good thing that came out of it was he was no worse for the wear.

Most of it had to do with the superb safety equipment he had in his car, along with the solid build of the car as well.

In early March, I had the pleasure of visiting the Team Xtreme and 1st Class Chassis shop in Great Bend. Petersilie told me that day the group builds cars to perfection and for safety.

I remember him mentioning he wouldn't get into a car -- let alone build one -- in which he didn't feel safe.

He proved that Wednesday night. The only thing broken off the chassis was a small pair of iron rods used to hold the hood down with pins.

The team had the car nearly ready to race again an hour or two later.

Petersilie was able to joke about it afterward, saying he wanted me to keep the camera away from his car.

Now, it's turned into a joke the camera is bad luck.

I don't think it is, but just in case -- for Petersilie's sake and superstition -- I'll keep it away from his ride.