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Radisich opens up on horrific Bathurst crashes

PAUL Radisich has shared rare insight into the terrifying Bathurst 1000 accidents which left him in a three-month coma and put an end to his professional motorsport career.

The Kiwi had established himself overseas in open-wheelers and then touring cars before settling Down Under when he signed with Supercars squad Dick Johnson Racing for 1999.

After eight race wins for DJR, Radisich scored Triple Eight’s first ever Supercars podium and then delivered the only podium in Team Kiwi Racing’s history.

He was still driving for TKR when the first of his two Bathurst nightmares occurred, in 2006.

Radisich was trying to round up Nathan Pretty on the outside of The Chase, on the run to Murray’s Corner, when a slight side-to-side nudge sent him into the fence on driver’s left.

The head-on contact and sudden deceleration caused significant injuries to ‘The Rat’, whose VZ Commodore was flipped onto its side.

“I couldn’t feel anything with my legs, which was probably good at the time,” Radisich recalled via the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Castrol.

“I remember hanging upside down there and there was some fluid running down the back of my neck, and the first thing I thought of was fuel.

“I was conscious through the whole thing, so my initial thought was, ‘any minute this is going to blow up and I’m going to be burnt here!’

“So that took away any feeling of any other pain that I may have had.”

It was upon being extricated from the car and airlifted to hospital that the pain set in.

“I have (now) got posts in my right leg, but feet was the biggest (damage), it just smashed all of the bones in my feet and then worked its way up and broke my chest bone and ribs, a few fingers and things like that,” he said.

“The biggest issue was when we got to hospital, they said, ‘you have got some choices here: either we can put you in a full body cast and you’re stuck there for three months, or we don’t put you in a body cast and you just go to sleep for three months. And that’s it’.

“So it was decided not to have a body cast; I just checked out of life for three months really while things healed up.

“Then after three months it was time to try to learn how to walk again.

“Luckily we had a pool at home so I had people coming every day to carry me into the pool, and then I’d spend all day in the swimming pool, just trying to walk around the pool.

“Within a month, I could walk around the pool, and then I could get out of there and start walking on land.”

Radisich didn’t want his racing career to end on that note.

The best part of six months on from the crash, he was back racing in Supercars, at Round 2 of the 2007 season at Wanneroo.

After things fell apart at TKR, the HSV Dealer Team swooped on Radisich as a co-driver. His first race with the team resulted in a second-place finish with Rick Kelly at the 2007 Sandown 500.

Radisich returned as Kelly’s co-driver for the following season, only to experience more Great Race pain – literally – after his throttle jammed at McPhillamy Park during practice.

The aftermath of the 2008 practice crash. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

“I remember going, ‘the car is going straight for the wall, I’ll try to steer it to the right one to try to scrub some speed so I don’t hit the far away wall’ but that’s about the only thing I thought of at the time,” he reflected.

“To go through what we did with the TKR accident, and then effectively two years later be in the same position, being flown out of the track… basically everything I’d broken in the first accident, I re-broke in the second.

“It was a little hard to swallow that one, I must admit.”

It was Radisich’s last Supercars event, although he has returned to the wheel of race cars since including as part of a historic SuperTourer category at the 2022 Pukekohe swansong.

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