Locals Ready to Clash
He lost control of his car coming out of turn four and hit the wall at an estimated 75 mph in an accident that not only halted his career but easily could have killed him. It took safety officials nearly an hour to remove Long from his car and a Life Flight helicopter was called before a special trauma team was put together and awaited him at a local hospital.
A year-and-a-half later, Long is not only back in the car but competitive again, winning the pole for the season-opening race at Mobile International Speedway and putting the division on notice that he was back and on a mission – one that could have him back in victory lane as early as this Saturday night.
That first race didn’t go as planned for Long as he suffered a mechanical issue that caused his car to stutter on restarts. His team, led by crew chief David Owens, has since diagnosed the problem but won’t be able to fully repair the car until after this weekend’s race. As a result, Long thinks he will be a threat to secure his second-straight pole but is probably going to have similar problems until the car receives a total overhaul.
“It was the same problem we struggled with most of last year,” Long said. “So we expect to be one of the fastest cars out there again but in saying that we also know the start and restarts will hurt us again.
“By the next race though, it will be a completely different story. For now HurriKane Motorsports is just going to show up to have fun and race.”
He credits his wife, Michelle, for getting him back in the car and having the chance to craft a better legacy than his 2011 accident. It was during his six months of rehab that had considered calling his quits be recalls a conversation with Michelle that pointed him back towards the Speedway.
“Michelle was the main driving force of getting me back into the car,” Long said. “She didn’t want me to finish my racing career that way. She wanted me to beat the track, not have the track beat me. So after the rehab and safety precautions, it still took me quite some time to get back up to speed. I still hold my breath every time I come out of turn four.”
Kane already has his sights set on a different breathlessness while coming out of turn four – with him as leader on the last lap and looking at the checkered flag. He calls the Bombers division the toughest at Mobile International Speedway and is looking forward to really testing himself against some of the best at both Mobile and the Gulf Coast.
“I think this year with the addition of the Gulf Coast Championship between Five Flags and Mobile we will see even more talented drivers in the class,” Long said. “We know we have a great car, a great team and great sponsors. With a little luck, a lot of fun and determination I feel we can get my first win as a driver at MIS this year.”
Grandstands open at 4:00PM on Saturday with grandstand admission: $20 for adults; $15 for seniors, Student 12-17, military and policemen $10 for children 6-11; and ages 5-and-under are free when accompanied by adult. The pit gate opens at 1 PM for local cars and spectators and pit passes run $25. Everyone under the age of 19 must have a signed parental consent form.
Brandon Burks Ldr.
David Johnson -5
Matt Manuel -9
Derek Long -14
Ralph Rogers -18
Steve Buttrick Ldr.
Brannon Fowler -5
Bob Bryant -6
Steven Allday -15
Johnny Greene -17