NEIL Crompton has revealed how a surprise opportunity to drive a Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercar in March this year may well have saved his life.
The 61-year-old was diagnosed with prostate cancer the following month and, after undergoing surgery and temporarily stepping back from Supercars commentary duties, is making a strong recovery.
Writing in his book, Neil Crompton: The Best Seat in the House, the Supercars Hall of Famer explained that the left-field offer to drive the WAU ZB at a Sandown ride day on March 22 played a key role in discovering the cancer.
Just prior to the call-up from the team, Crompton had undergone a medical as part of a life insurance policy change in which a tiny trace of blood had been found in his urine.
“It was not considered a big deal and a follow-up test was suggested,” explained Crompton, who retired from full-time Supercars driving at the end of 2002 to focus on commentary duties.
The offer from WAU to drive its third car at the busy Melbourne ride day then required another medical in order to re-activate his Motorsport Australia (MA) National Competition Licence.
“Normally I’d have said no, but I was keen to have another run, knowing that, at 60 years of age, I was much closer to the time when I’d no longer be able to take this sort of opportunity,” he wrote.
When he went to see Dr Anton Mechtler, who has long handled his racing medicals, Crompton mentioned the anomaly that had been discovered.
“He didn’t like the sound of that and told me the exact day he wanted the follow-up test done,” wrote Crompton.
“The outcome from test two was both good and bad. There was no evidence of a blood trace, but in the space of just 14 days my PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels had jumped significantly.”
Subsequent tests confirmed the presence of the cancer; the news of which Crompton received on Friday April 16 while at Symmons Plains for the Tasmania SuperSprint.
“The potential life insurance policy change started the process, and the MA licence renewal had brought what became a serious issue sharply into focus,” Crompton reflected.
“I could have just ditched the life insurance policy change and been none the wiser.
“As fate, passion or serendipity would have it, I wanted to drive a Supercar again, and this desire may well have saved my life, or at least extended it.”
LISTEN: Neil Crompton on the V8 Sleuth Podcast Powered by Repco