Late in the Mod 4 race at Motor Mile Speedway on Saturday night, it looked as if Jessie Yopp was going to be in a position to win his first race on the 4/10 mile track. However as the laps clicked off his car got loose and after slipping to third, he crashed violently on the final lap.
Yopp was along for the ride as his car got out from under him and he slammed the wall on the outside knocking his glasses off his face and then without being able to see his car hit the outside wall again before it veered hard into the inside wall. The impact shoved the left front tire into the driver’s compartment, shoved the steering shaft to the right and destroyed his car.
Yopp recounted the final laps that led up to the crash.
“The car was tight pretty much the whole race,” Yopp told RACE22.com. “The car was starting to get a little loose. Something broke on Kevin (Canter) and I thought he was leaking something on the track cause when I went around him the car just kicked sideways. It was all you could do to hold it in the corners.”
“Taylor (Asberry) got by me and Doodle (Lang) got by me and we took the white flag. The car was getting real loose and I overcorrected a little bit and hit the outside wall and it knocked my glasses off and I couldn’t really see. I overcorrected again and hit the outside wall and it shot me into the inside wall. I fought it all the way down the straightaway, I couldn’t really see anything but I did see I was going to the left so I let go of the steering wheel and crossed my chest. I tell you that was a hit.”
Yopp’s car was the least of his worries though as he was in pain from the crash. Yopp says he was never knocked out and didn’t have the breath knocked out of him. Officials and emergency workers got Yopp out of the car and quickly got him on his way to the New River Valley Medical Center in Radford, VA. After evaluation Yopp was then transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, VA to meet with an orthopedic doctor.
Yopp’s left foot was broken in several places and had to be put back together with rods and pins. He says it was the exact same surgery that Kyle Busch had after his accident at Daytona in 2015. Yopp says his incident could have been much worse if he hadn’t had a head and neck restraint.
“I highly suggest people wear a head and neck restraint. I wore a NexGen and I have no damage to my neck, spine, chest or head. I have a bruise on my right arm and one on my right shoulder from the seat belt. I have no damage to the upper part of my body.”
Yopp’s injuries will sideline him from racing for some time as he’ll have six-inch rods sticking out of his foot for six weeks.
“We’ll just have to see once we see how the healing goes how long I’m out of the car. I never did see the wreck, because of my glasses falling off. I can’t see without my glasses. I knew I was going to hit the wall. I knew it turned down the track but I didn’t know how hard I was going to hit. So there’s no fear factor for going back. We’ll just see how long it takes to go through the pain and suffering I’m going through.”
“I’ll have these rods in my foot for probably six weeks and I’ll have therapy after that. They’re concerned about blood clot since I can’t put pressure on my foot and can’t really do anything. It’s kinda odd seeing rods sticking out of your feet about six inches long.”
Yopp says that had he been driving one of his other cars, he doesn’t think he would have been injured.
“I think if I had been in my other car, I don’t think I’d have had near the damage to what I had to my foot. That car is just constructed a lot better. We have more framing and more support area that Ronnie Byrd builds around that area. The floorboard wouldn’t have been pushed in on that other car.”
Yopp says he’s thankful for all the people at the track who helped and who have checked on him.
“I gotta thank everyone who helped there with the accident,” Yopp continued. “Everyone who helped get our stuff packed up and back where it was supposed to be. My racing brothers pitched in to help me out of the car and helped make sure everything was taken care of since my wife was with me at the hospital.”
Yopp is also pleased with the way the track has handled the incident.
“The speedway has been phenomenal and they’ve already sent the accident report and everything to NASCAR. What my insurance doesn’t pick up, NASCAR’s insurance picks up the rest. I just can’t say enough about the way they’ve handled that.”
One of the toughest parts of this injury is that Yopp will also be out of work for an extended period of time. As the owner of his own business, that makes it even tougher. Yopp is a plumber and does a lot of the work himself.
“On the business side it does put a burden on us because I can’t go to work,” Yopp said. “Luckily my son (Allen) has been working with me lately and he will be able to do some of the stuff. Some of my bigger stuff I won’t be able to do. One good thing is my dad (Luke) has been in construction through the years and he’s going to be my eyes and make sure to guide them through and do it properly.”
Yopp also says he couldn’t have got through this as easily without his wife Rebecca, who’s been by his side since the crash.
“My wife has been by my side the whole time. She was even with me and we didn’t have any vehicle to get transported nowhere. She would not get nothing to eat because she knew I couldn’t even though I told her to eat. It’s hard to find that perfect match in a relationship, especially with mine. She’s the one who got us back in racing and she’s with me all the way.”
Yopp might be down for a small time but his spirits are high and he’s overwhelmed with the support he’s had from the racing community.
Cover photo by Nathaniel Turner.