JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A fiery crash left spectators at the Gulfport Dragway gasping in disbelieve on Sunday. Remarkably, the man in the driver’s seat walked away from the crash.
“When the car quit moving, I was so happy to be breathing and not on fire,” said Shannon Poole.
Poole knows all about the hazards that come with drag racing. He’s been doing it for 30 years, reaching speeds of up to 160 miles per hour, but he’s never seen anything like what happened to him on Sunday.
“To be walking and talking to you today, the good Lord had his hand on me definitely,” said Poole.
After spending the night in the hospital for precautionary measures, Poole was sent home on Monday with only minimal injuries. While he looked over what was left of his car in his Jackson County garage, it was hard for him to even process what happened.
“Actually I thought I was spinning out of control and I wasn’t sure what happened,” Poole said. “Little did I know I was flying through the air and came smashing down. The first smash knocked my breath out. As the car tumbled and rolled, with each roll it hurt, and I felt it equally."
Doug Key helps Poole build his cars. He earned the nickname “Donut Doug” following a wreck of his own about ten years ago. Key said watching the crash on Sunday made for some of the longest seconds of his life.
“People don’t realize when you see your best friend airborne, and you don’t know if he’s going to be kicking when you get to him, it’s really bad,” Key said.
As a Captain for the Pascagoula Fire Department, Poole’s advice he usually has for others came in handy for him in the moments after the wreck.
“The most important thing in a situation like that is to remain calm,” Poole said.
Along with installing a fire suppressant system in the car, Poole credits the safety bars he spent extra time on for being able to walk away.
“I took extra special care to make sure all the welds were done properly, and everything was done correctly,” Poole said. “All the bars were in the right spot, and that’s what saved my life in the end.”
The crash won’t slow Poole down for long, he’ll start repairing his car as soon as possible and plans to get back to racing in the next few weeks.
“If you’re not in this game you don’t really understand it, you may think it’s stupid, but it’s what I do and who I am. I’m going to continue to do it until I take my last breath,” Poole said.
Despite the wreck, Poole still plans to take part in the filming of a TV show next month in South Carolina.