Mast Forced To Retire
January 23, 2003 | 12:57 A.M. EST
The 45-year-old Mast was stricken with the poison symptoms last season while driving for veteran car owner Junie Donlavey. After only nine races, Mast was forced out of the seat suffering from severe symptoms eventually traced to the poison received from exhaust fumes making their way into the cockpit.
"Imagine the worst hangover you've ever had in your life," Mast said. "You're very nauseated ... your head is pounding and you're dizzy all of the time. That's what I lived with for five weeks, seven days a week, before I got out of the car in May."
Mast first experienced the symptoms in March while competing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. His first instinct was that he was suffering from the flu, but the symptoms became worse and forced Mast to seek additional medical assistance. It wasn't until he received treatment at a Colorado clinic that the true problem was found.
The revelation led Mast to contact NASCAR and begin work to alleviate the problem for other drivers. Finding ways to bring fresh air into the cockpit has become a priority for the sanctioning body.
"From my first conversation with them, to right now where we stand today, NASCAR has started a program looking into this, trying to get some data and figure out why this happened to me and what can be done to prevent it in the future," Mast said.
Mast started his career in the NASCAR Grand National series in 1982 and made 364 Winston Cup starts between 1988 and 2002.