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Injury Ends Perry’s Driving Career, Urges Teams to Think About Safety

The young, up and coming racing career of Cornwall, Prince Edward Island’s Scott Perry has come to a screeching halt after a recent string of Doctor’s appointments.

Perry, who is now 17, began racing in the Mini Stock division at Oyster Bed Speedway at the age of 15 in 2012. The youngster quickly learned the ropes of the sport, and found himself up front not long after that debut, mixing it up with the veterans of the four cylinder class. The 2014 season was no different than his previous two, with Perry putting up solid finishes on the board en route to a seventh place finish overall in the standings of 21. His last race meet on September 28th, 2014 resulted in a third place finish in the feature, before a camber infraction in tech took that away from the #66 car.

Little did Perry know that the September 28th race would be his last behind the wheel of a race car.

Perry, who had been readying a Honda Civic for a jump to the Outlaw division at Oyster Bed Speedway, had received news between that final race and the Oyster Bed Speedway banquet that his racing days were over.

“The Doctor had told me my spine and tailbone had both shifted,” said Perry, noting that the injury came from a racing accident in the Mini Stock feature on August 10th, 2013. “How they explained it to me, is that my spine and tailbone are overlapping. They shouldn’t be overlapping, they should run tip to tip. If it continues to go too far, they tell me I would be paralyzed from the neck down. It’s something that nobody at my age, or any age, wants to hear coming from a Doctor.

I have a bad back. They tell me it’s not going to get any better. Stepping out of the car is tough, I wanted to go higher as a driver in this sport. It’s the last thing I want to do, but I have to think about my future too.”

10899806_10155004677995545_4682666_nThis crash on August 10th, 2013 left Scott Perry with an spinal injury that would ultimately lead to Perry’s retirement from driving a stock car at the age of 17. (Marlie Paynter Photo)

Perry’s announcement puts the safety in stock car racing in the region, especially in the Mini Stock/Four Cylinder class, under the microscope once again. It comes three months following Jon Durant’s crash at Petty International Raceway on September 21st, where the Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island driver had to be cut out of his car and escaped major injury after an accident in Turn Two crumpled his #47 car early in the Mini Stock feature.

Maritime tracks will be ramping up inspection of Four Cylinder cars in 2015, parking cars they feel are not safe to be on the track, whether it be the way the cage is built or the solid state of the shell of the car, for example. Maritime tracks will be requiring every driver in every division to run SFI approved driving suits and gloves in 2015, with head and neck restraints and racing seats being recommended, but not required, for the upcoming season, as a move to make the sport and those within it more safer.

A head and neck restraint is something Perry believes would have helped save him from the injury.

“Absolutely. It was one of the things I wanted from the start of my racing career, but I did not have the coin to afford one. At the end of the day, racing is not an inexpensive sport anymore, it doesn’t matter what division you are in. I would recommend a head and neck restraint, not just a foam collar, to everyone getting into a race car. Whether you are driving a Mini Stock or a Pro Stock, everything can happen so quickly.

Just think, you can’t put a price on a life.”

When not in the drivers seat, Perry is a familiar face at the track. He has worked on many Island race cars, most of which under the tutelage of Tom Scully, including the #91 Pro Stock driven on the Parts for Trucks Tour by Dylan Gosbee and the stable of Big Poppas Motorsports cars. Perry still plans to be at the track and give a helping hand when he can.

Perry is hoping his story will help open eyes and spark drivers to think about their safety when on the track.

“I want people to try and make a difference for themselves. It is truly heartbreaking. As unrealistic as it might sound to someone who sees my message and says “it will never happen to me” or “I cannot afford to buy this or that piece of safety gear,” I’m hoping it will make them think twice. What happened to me can happen to anyone, at any track, at any time.”

– Photo by Marlie Paynter

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