A Long Journey Back For Weller

Jimmy Weller

A sprint car crash at Charlotte a decade ago nearly claimed the life of Jimmy Weller III, but he's back and competing in the Camping World Truck Series. (Photo: Getty Images)

CONCORD, N.C. - He doesn’t remember the accident. Looking at photos, he wonders who that person is being treated. He’s returned numerous times to the track that nearly took his life ... and he feels nothing. No fear, no anguish, no reservations.

Maybe that’s part of the mystery of the mind. Maybe it’s something else, but for whatever reason, Jimmy Weller III is back in Charlotte racing 10 years after the crash that nearly killed him.

A decade ago, he was an 18-year-old running sprint cars. He normally drove winged sprint cars but came to Charlotte to compete in a non-wing event at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

His car hit a rut in his heat race and catapulted toward the catch fence. The roll cage was compromised. Weller’s head hit a support post.

Emergency workers tended to Weller for nearly 30 minutes before they removed him from the car. He suffered brain trauma, collapsed lungs, a compressed vertebrae and broken cheek bones. He said doctors gave him a 5 percent chance of survival that first night.

“I have a very hard time believing that was me,’’ Weller said. “They say that is God’s way of protecting you. I don’t remember anything. All the struggles I have now I don’t remember not having them, like the back pain. That’s just life now. I see pictures of the wreck, and I know I’m the one in the car, but I just don’t grasp that. I slept through the really bad part.’’

Weller spent two weeks in a coma. He says that after he awoke he whispered to his mother he couldn’t stay in the hospital because he had a race to run that weekend. Doctors said he would likely be hospitalized six months. He left in seven weeks.

He’s been looking to race ever since, leading him back to Charlotte for Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series event. He returns with a screw in his neck, two rods, about 6 inches each, in his back. Doctors and his family won’t let him skydive or drive a motorcycle for fear of further injury despite his desire to do both.

Even so, he’s had some of racing’s top doctors examine him and clear him to compete. He missed a full year of racing after his accident but returned in 2006 running a dirt late modified. He’s worked his way back to NASCAR, running five Camping World Truck races last year and making his Nationwide debut earlier this season.

“It’s been a long road, and I made it even longer,’’ Weller jokes.

He’ll run 12 Truck races this season with a goal of running the full schedule next season. Although he finished a career-high ninth at Daytona International Speedway at the start of the season, it’s this weekend that he’s been looking forward to the most.

“This was always my dream to get here,’’ he said of racing at Charlotte’s 1.5-mile speedway. “It could have very easily been taken away at the dirt track.

“I was blessed to come through it. l don’t fear getting hurt again. It’s just kind of blocked out. I really don’t know why that doesn’t bother me.’’

He doesn’t have much time to think about it, though, he’s focused on racing. 

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of Friday's NC Education Lottery 200 Camping World Truck Series race, presented by Keystone Light, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

Race Center

Pocono Mountains 150

@ Pocono Raceway
Saturday, August 02, 2014
Radio Start:
MRN, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
TV Start:
FOX Sports 1, 12:30 p.m. (ET)

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