Local Race Official Clings To Life

SpeedReading

By DAVE MOODY

Barre/Montpelier (VT) Times-Argus

Miracles have been known to happen at this time of year. Ed Carroll could sure use one.

Carroll, a longtime official at Thunder Road and Airborne International Raceways, remains in critical condition as this column is written, the victim of what police are calling a “freak hunting accident” Sunday afternoon. While watching television in the living room of his Berlin home shortly after 2 p.m., Carroll was struck in the head by a bullet police say was likely fired from miles away.

Carroll was taken by ambulance to Central Vermont Medical Center, before being transferred by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. Sources close to the family say the bullet, which struck Carroll just below the left ear, remains lodged in his brain, just millimeters from a major artery. The 59-year old Carroll also sustained spinal cord trauma that has rendered him paralyzed, with severely diminished activity on the left side of his brain.

Carroll’s situation is complicated by the fact that doctors have been unable to perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the exact position of the bullet, since they have no way of knowing what the projectile is made of. If the bullet is made of steel, the procedure could cause it to move and cause further damage.

“As it stands right now, we don’t even know what we’re dealing with,” said Kim Richards, daughter of Carroll’s girlfriend, Sheila. “They’ve done a CAT scan that shows damage to the C-1 (first cervical) vertebra. They can see that there’s something in the spinal canal, along with a lot of soft-tissue damage and swelling. They think his paralysis may be from the swelling, but without an MRI, they just can’t tell for sure.”

Richards said Tuesday that the family is hopeful, but realistic about Carroll’s chances.

“Obviously, it’s not good,” she said. “Even if they were able to perform the MRI, it probably would not lead to something miraculous. But whether the news is good or bad, it’ll have to be better than not knowing at all. We want to fight this as aggressively as possible, but we can’t without the proper information. The family needs to make some hard decisions about how far to go with this, and it’s so scary to think we might be doing the wrong thing without knowing any better.”

Police are asking anyone with information on the shooting - particularly anyone who may have been hunting in the area Sunday -- to contact them at 223-4401. They are not looking to prosecute anyone, only to determine what kind of bullet is involved in this tragic accident.

“It’s just a freak accident,” Cpl. Jim Bell of the Berlin Police Department told The Times-Argus this week. “I’d say the odds were one-in-a-million … but they are probably greater than that.”

Carroll’s shooting stunned members of the area racing community, many of whom are having a difficult time with the random nature of the incident.

“We’re just dumbfounded,” said ACT President Tom Curley this week. “Ed has been with us for the better part of 20 years, and I don’t think there’s an official at either track with more friends in the pits. He runs the Street Stock division, and those kids just love him. They line themselves up 10 minutes early, just so he won’t get yelled at.

“He used to sit in a lawn chair near the top corner of the grandstands at Thunder Road, and every week when I walked by, he’d say, `Hey Curley, when are you gonna give me a job?’ Finally, after a couple of years, I figured out that he was serious. I put him to work, and every day since then, he’s done everything we asked him to do. He’d take the dirtiest, nastiest, most thankless job in the pits and make it his own; all with that big smile on his face.”

Street Stock driver Justin St. Louis agreed, saying, “Eddie's one of the officials you can pick on, and he'll pick right back. He was the flagman at Airborne this year, and during a yellow flag one night, we were all stopped on the frontstretch to get the lineup straight. He leaned in my window and said, `Can you talk some sense into these guys? They're making me work too hard!’ I laughed for about five laps.

“Ed adds a lot to the races. We can only hope for some sort of miracle, you know?”

Ed Carroll is in a bad place today, and he needs your help. No bit of information is too small, too trivial to be of use. Again, no one is looking to lay blame. All we want is answers. Answers, and a chance.

rrrr

 

C.V. Elms, III, continues to branch out. Elms, owner of Bradford’s Bear Ridge Speedway, added the Canaan (NH) dirt track to his weekly promotional effort last season, running a weekly slate of Friday night events in addition to his traditional Saturday programs at “The Home of the Coupes.”

Now, sources say Elms has purchased the twin-track Canaan facility from owner/promoter Charlie Elliott, with plans to run both the dirt and asphalt ovals on a weekly basis next season. Elms has announced a Saturday, December 15 rules meeting at the Canaan Fairgrounds function hall, and speculation is currently divided as to whether he will attempt to run his weekly dirt cars on asphalt, or attract a weekly field of asphalt racers from other tracks. With both the Claremont and Lee U.S.A. Speedways recently eliminating the Pro Stock division from their 2003 programs, Elms may be looking to fill the void with weekly Pro Stock racing at Canaan. Don’t be surprised to see ACT-style (or even ACT-sanctioned) Late Models on the card from time to time, as well.

rrrr

Short (Track) Subjects…

…Well, that didn’t take long. Following up on last week’s column on women drivers in the upper levels of NASCAR, driver Deborah Renshaw announced this week that she and team-owner Rick Goodwin have parted ways. Renshaw was slated to drive Goodwin’s #54 Chevrolet on the NASCAR Busch Series in 2003, but those plans have fallen through before a single lap could be run.

“Rick and I have decided to part ways in an amiable fashion and I want to thank him and his entire team for the opportunity,” said Renshaw, pushing the art of positive spin to new heights. “I appreciate everything Rick has done for me, and wish them nothing but the best.”

…Jeff Gordon took a wild ride last Friday in Gran Canaria, Spain during preparations for the annual Race of Champions. Hoping to learn more about rally racing, Gordon rode shotgun with World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm, as Gronholm practiced on the winding, on- and off-road course. Unfortunately, even World Champions make mistakes.

"(Marcus) clipped a corner, and the next thing I know we're flipping like we were in a sprint car,” said a smiling Gordon after his quadruple flip. "We came to a stop, and he asked me if I was all right. I started yelling that that was one of the coolest things I've done recently."

Both Gordon and Gronholm were uninjured, and representatives from Hendrick Motorsports and Dupont are said to be resting comfortably after experiencing a nasty bout of hyperventiliation.

…Mike Beam, former crewchief for Ricky Craven’s Tide Ford team, signed with Richard Childress Racing this week, and will serve as crewchief for the Jeff Green-driven AOL Chevrolet next season. Beam has three
career victories -- two with Bill Elliott and one with Craven in 2001 - along with 16 poles.

…Tommy Baldwin has signed-on as crewchief for the Jimmy Spencer-driven, Sirius Satellite Radio-sponsored Dodge team in 2003. Our sources say he’ll have little trouble learning people’s names, after taking a number of his former employees with him from the Bill Davis Racing/Caterpillar Team of Ward Burton.

…Doug Randolph has been named crewchief for the Nestlé Nesquik Ford Taurus Team Busch Series team. Randolph comes to ppc Racing from the Chip Ganassi’s #41 Winston Cup operation.

…As expected Ray Evernham handed Casey Atwood a pink slip this week, telling the driver that he is free to seek other employment for 2003. Atwood drove Evernham's #19 Winston Cup Dodge two years ago, but was demoted to Jim Smith's Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge this year. In 34 races, Atwood had a best finish of 11th, and was 33rd in points when Smith released him late last season, prompting Evernham to withdraw his support from the team.

Clarence Brewer, owner of the Timber Wolf-sponsored Busch Series Chevrolet formerly driven by Kevin Lepage, inexplicably says he would like to rehire Atwood for 2003.

…To the surprise of absolutely no one, Team Racing Auto Circuit (TRAC) has postponed its scheduled inaugural season, from 2003 to 2004. TRAC President Terry Hanson said last week that the proposed new series has experienced “delays” in signing a contract with a television network, forcing it to push back its projected startup date.

TRAC previously announced an agreement with Speedway Motorsports, Inc. -- operator of Atlanta, Las Vegas and Lowes Motor Speedways -- to race there beginning in April of next year. Now, however, the target date is said to be April of 2004. Hanson continues to insist that TRAC is close to signing a deal with a major television network. The series’ exclusive car builder, Riley and Scott, long ago suspended production due to financial concerns brought about by the lack of a promised TV deal, and the series’ continued inability to secure a competent CEO.

…Las Vegas Motor Speedway will add additional seating to accommodate what spokespersons there call “record demand” for tickets to its annual NASCAR weekend. The new seats will be sold as part of an $88 package deal that includes tickets for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Winston Cup race on March 2, along with the companion Busch and Craftsman Truck Series races that same weekend.