During the last World of Outlaws Late Model Series swing at Volusia Speedway Park, Mark Whitener wound up on his roof. The accident occurred during a consolation race on January 20 at the De Leon Springs, Florida, oval. He and the Big Frog Motorsports team have since worked hard to find speed since the incident.
He nor his car were seriously hurt from the crash. In fact, Whitener won the next night, with a different car, in the Crate Racin’ USA Winter Shootout.
“I was going by Boom Briggs [of Bear Lake, Pennsylvania] on the outside, and we ran out of room,” Whitener, 41, of Middleburg, Florida, said of what had occurred. “I wheel-hopped him, got into the fence, and went flipping.”
Whitener said he held on for the ride until it came to a complete stop.
“I ended up my roof and crawled out,” said Whitener. “It wasn’t too bad. I hurt my hands a bit. My hand may have hit the brake adjuster — it caused my hand to swell a bit. Where I was holding the steering wheel, with my right hand, the spoke got it and it hurt my thumb. It was nothing to keep me from racing — it was just a little sore.”
Whitener sat in a ButlerBuilt seat, with Simpson belts, in a chassis from Rocket. He wore a Simpson helmet and Simpson Hybrid Pro head-and-neck restraint. While damage to Whitener himself was minimal, the car required more attention.
“The rear end was bent, most of the front suspension [was damaged], and a lot of bodywork,” crew chief Mike Rey said.
Rey and the Big Frog Motorsports worked through the night and the morning. They repaired the car in time for make the consolation race on January 21, finishing fifth out of nine cars. Whitener then continued to use the same car through Speedweeks. While Whitener typically performs well at tracks near his home, he admittedly has struggled a bit.
“We’ve had bad luck,” Whitener said. “At All-Tech [Raceway, a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event in Lake City, Florida,] we were fast. We were running fifth, and an oil line broke. Then, I was running fifth or sixth, when the needle and seat in the carburetor stuck.”
Whitener rebounded on Saturday, with a third-place finish during the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at East Bay Raceway Park. He’ll now head back to Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals. Mark Whitener remains undeterred. And, the flip, certainly hasn’t phased him.
“That’s probably the 13th to 15th time I’ve flipped the car,” said Whitener. “It was no big deal.”
The Outside Groove Executive Editor has covered motorsports since 2000. His many awards include the 2019 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Jim Hunter Writer of the Year and the 2013 Russ Catlin Award for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism.