TRENTON, NJ - Outstanding young driver Tyler Dippel of Watkill, N.Y., and a loyal crew member were lucky to be alive after a freak accident prior to the start of Saturday night’s racing at N.Y.’s Lebanon Valley Speedway.
Dippel, 15, and Roddy Watts, 16, were standing behind the team’s trailer in the pit area after arriving at the track. A crew member opened the rear door latch, not knowing the cable that allows the door to descend slowly had been broken in transport.
The ramp door, estimated to weigh about 1,200 pounds, quickly descended to the ground. With his back to the door and the keys to the trailer in his pocket, Dippel was unaware the door had been opened. Luckily, Watts saw it coming down and attempted to push him out of harm’s way.
With great force, the door hit both and pinned them underneath. Driver JR Heffner and members of his crew that were parked next to them quickly came to their rescue by lifting up the door.
The two teenagers were rushed to the Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center Trauma Unit. Doctors did an X-ray on Dippel and released him with what they felt was merely a sore back.
Despite medication, Dippel remained in great pain and couldn’t sleep after arriving at his family home. On Sunday morning he was taken to the local St. Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh, N.Y. A Cat Scan at that location found five fractures of his pelvis. It was believed that by leaving the Albany hospital, the splinters might have caused further injury.
Dippel was in good spirits on Monday morning when he talked with AARN by phone. He said his doctor feels he’ll be out of racing at least six to eight weeks. The doctor doesn’t believe at this time that surgery is needed nor a brace, but that Dippel will need to use a walker to start his recuperation therapy. “I hope to be back racing with all my guns loaded by mid-July,” said Dippel.
Watts was released from the hosital with a broken femur, jaw and nose.
In 2014, Dippel received the Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Young Gun Award presented by New England Race Fuels. The highlights of his 2014 season included an impressive dirt Modified victory in the ‘Battle On the Beach’ at Del.’s Georgetown Speedway and a near win in the World Finals in Charlotte, N.C. Dippel also raced competitively in asphalt Late Models in the south while trying to hone his craft for a possible career move into NASCAR’s elite divisions.
Ironically, Dippel’s crew chief, Matt Hearn, was injured by the same trailer just the week before. While adjusting the hitch on the trailer, Hearn’s finger was cut off at the finger nail.
Cards of cheer can be sent to Dippel at 18 Jill Marie Ct., Wallkill, NY 12589.