Kyle Mullins, one of two Bob Tasca Racing crew members injured last weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix, was at Auto Club Raceway, back at work building the rack and bolting heads onto the Funny Car.
The other, Jim Underco, is home following a hospital stay to treat – in Tasca’s words – “second-degree burns over a good part of his side and back.” Tasca said it’s “obviously very painful and he’s fighting through it. He’s more worried about coming back out here than he is trying to get himself better.
Mullins, he said, “got a cut on the lip and a cut over his eye, but he didn’t miss a day of work.
“I have so much respect for these crew guys, and the dedication and the hard work that goes into these cars. I say these things [Funny Cars] are a combination of a great white shark, a gorilla, and a lion all wrapped up in one – and every once in a while you get bit. We’re just fortunate it wasn’t worse than what it was.
“These guys are warriors,” Tasca said. “They’re tough guys, and it was just a very freak incident and we’re very fortunate that both guys will make a full recovery. Kyle’s back and Jim will be back before you know it.”
He said Underco wasn’t stranded in Arizona while the rest of the team moved on to Pomona for the start of the season: “His mom and dad flew in, and he wasn’t alone. We were with him when we were there. His mom and dad came in, and Jim will be just fine.”
Tasca called the mishap “a very freak starting-line incident” and said, “It was just a clearance issue on the body. As the body came down, it hit the throttle. Tony Pedregon had it happen in Indy, a very similar event. But like I said, very freak. I’ve raced my whole career with similar clearances and never had an issue. So it was just the way the body came down and it was on a certain angle where it just clipped the throttle. We’re very fortunate it wasn’t worse than what it was.”
The team owner dispelled rumors that he had considered not competing here because he was upset about the incident at testing. “That was never true,” Tasca said. “Not for one second of one minute did we not think of coming here.”