Scott Speed, who broke his back while landing a jump in a Nitro World Games rallycross heat race over the weekend but still finished the heat before getting out of the car, said on Instagram Sunday that he’s going the non-surgical route for his broken back. The recovery is expected to take six to eight weeks, he said.
The injury happened during the first qualifying heat at the Nitro World Games, Speed’s Subaru Motorsports team said on Instagram, “after a hard landing over a jump.”
The team said he finished the heat and got out of the car before going to a local hospital for medical evaluation, where Speed said he later found out he had a “destroyed T6” vertebrae. He was taken to a spine specialist, he said, he was told he had three fractured vertebrae.
“Last night was easily the scariest and most painful time I can remember,” Speed said in the post from over the weekend. “Was in a pretty dark place. But I want to thank so much everyone who came and spent time with me. No way I could have made it thru alone.”
Speed said in a post on Sunday that his T6 fracture is “quite severe” and there’s ligamentous damage in the area, but that the fragments from the T6 didn’t hit his spinal cord. His MRI doctors were “on the fence about surgery,” he said, but they all decided to try the non-surgical option, where he’ll wear a brace and let the bone heal naturally with a six- to eight-week recovery time.
The course Speed was competing on before having to drop out of the event due to the injury was designed by Travis Pastrana and had three jumps—a massive, 100-foot jump and two smaller ones, shown in Pastrana’s preview of the course that begins at around 15:44 in this video. (For comparison, jumps in Red Bull Global Rallycross, where Speed won multiple titles, were often 70 feet long.)
Nitro Circus started its event broadcast with the Heat B races, when Speed was already off of the competitor list, but a representative for Subaru Motorsports told Jalopnik that Speed’s injury didn’t occur on the 100-foot jump. It happened instead on the last jump before the main straightaway—a tabletop one that Kevin Hansen and Patrik Sandell can be seen making during the Nitro World Games final in the gif below.
Fellow rallycross driver Tanner Foust gave a little more information on what happened as well, saying in response to an Instagram question that Speed “flat landed a jump, car came from maybe 20ft?” Landing flat from a rallycross jump, like landing flat footed when jumping down from somewhere, hurts.
The Subaru Motorsports representative, when asked about Foust’s mention of the car coming from 20 feet, said it might be hard to understand without clear video of the incident, but that they think what Foust meant is that Speed’s car “came down from about 20 feet in the air and landed on a flat surface.”
“To give a little more clarity—the design of the jump includes an upslope, a flat tabletop in the middle, and a downward slope where the cars were expected to land,” the representative wrote via email. “Scott’s car came over the jump with more speed than usual on that lap, overshot most of the downslope and came down on a flatter area at the bottom of the slope. The force of landing flat is what caused the injury.”
In addition to that visual from Subaru, Foust, on Instagram, described the landing in a way a lot of non-rallycross drivers can probably understand—and wince at.
“[The landing was] like driving out of the second or third floor of a parking garage to flat,” Foust said.