Driver on track to save spines
‘‘Mad’’ Mike Whiddett was told he would never walk again back in 2002.
Now the professional drift-car driver is back on his feet and spent Sunday running to raise money for spinal cord injury research.
He was competing as a motocross rider when he took flight over a 75-foot jump, throwing his legs over the handlebars.
But a tailwind pushed him and his bike passed the landing ramp and his back took the brunt of the impact.
‘‘I had compression fractures in four vertebrae. I was told I was paralysed. It was terrifying but eight hours later I got the feeling back in my feet.
‘‘I was lucky, I didn’t need surgery. The doctors told me to take it easy but I got back on my bike in about three months.’’
On Sunday Whiddett put on his running shoes for the Wings for Life World Run at Hampton Downs Raceway.
The run is a worldwide event in which runners in 34 countries all start at the same time. The last man standing is the winner.
After half an hour a pace car starts to follow the runners at 15kmh, increasing its speed every hour up to 35kmh after five and a half hours. When the pace car catches a runner, it’s game over.
Every cent raised by the runners will go towards spinal cord research and the event is open to the public.
Whiddett has turned his focus away from motocross since his accident and for the past six years has been competing in drifting competitions locally and internationally.
‘‘With age comes a cage. It’s much safer to be in a car.’’
But he says if he can play a small part in finding a cure for spinal cord injuries he will be happy.
‘‘It’s such a common injury that can have a massive impact on your life. Something as simple as falling off a ladder can be really damaging.’’
Racing spirit: ‘‘Mad’’ Mike Whiddett took part in the Wings for Life World Run on Sunday.