Still a bit stunned, my face twitching, I reached up under my glasses to feel a bit of wetness. Blood. A lot of it.
“Err, I’ll be right back,” I said to the barista at The Bend Motorsport Park, as I rushed off to the men’s room to do god knows what. Swab my bleeding eyebrow with very unsterilised bits of toilet paper, presumably.
Moments earlier I had just walked, full noise, into the world’s cleanest, most unstickered glass wall outside the brand new cafe upstairs at The Bend. My mind was elsewhere – it was thinking braking and turning points, the trickier bits of The Bend’s 3.41km West Circuit, as I took stock of whether or not I had enough match fitness and simple alertness (and possibly skill) to strap myself into a 515kW rear-drive Porsche with its engine in physically the wrong place. Hence the barista visit.
But suddenly the long list of priorities for MOTOR’s 2019 Performance Car of the Year, in my mind – the testing, photography, videography, logistics, many moving parts – were instantly subordinated by a brand new, very urgent task. Get myself to hospital.
“You’re in charge now,” I said to Associate Editor Newman who had a “what? Why?” look all over his face. “I’ve just walked into a glass wall in the cafe upstairs, my glasses are, it turns out, quite unexpectedly sharp, and the ambulance guy says I should get myself to the emergency department in Murray Bridge, 25 minutes up the road, to get probably stitches.”
Before this point, I had somehow managed to make the bleeding stop but there was a very gnarly gash under my eyebrow. “You did what?” quizzed Morley. And then the others. “I’ve gotta go”.
The drive to Murray Bridge in our Ford Escape support car (possibly someone else should have driven me in hindsight) was an odd one, not just because it was not even the slightest bit on the radar five minutes earlier. I was supposed to be driving a Porsche 911 GT2 RS, or an Audi R8 RWS, or BMW M5 Competition, on a beautiful new racetrack, at 250km/h.
“You should have made up that you crashed a car or something,” said the nurse as she swabbed my wound, laughing that I had basically walked into a wall. The irony of receiving such an injury on a day where I was driving some of the fastest road cars in the world beyond their limits, on a track – truly very dangerous activity – was not lost on me.
The doc in Murray Bridge gave me a local and stitched me up. “You probably shouldn’t drive on the track any more today,” he said, and excitement and surrealism of the whole thing turned to glumness. I realised I might not get to drive some of the faster cars on track, at Performance Car of the Year, a day that I, and the MOTOR crew, use as motivation to get us through hundreds upon hundreds of hours driving a desk.
I got myself back to The Bend in time to coordinate, with snapper Ellen Dewar, the sunset group shot, my face patched up, which then became the evening’s entertainment as everyone else watched on. “We have to check if there’s a CCTV camera up there,” laughed The Bend guys, and me with them, sort of, as I wondered if my profile as Editor of MOTOR was about to be trumped by me, the YouTube viral video.
It was all okay in the end, I managed to fulfil my duties as a judge on Performance Car of the Year. But it was just another unexpected turn at our 2019 instalment – 11 superb cars, five dream days – the rest of which you can read in our February 2019 issue of MOTOR. Enjoy.