Tim Pappas is on the road to recovery following his Bathurst 12 Hour practice crash and revealed he had previously met one of the spectators who jumped the fence to help him.
The Black Swan Racing team owner and driver suffered a heavy shunt in practice for the February event, with his Porsche 911 GT3 R backing into a concrete wall at high speed at The Chase and catching alight.
It led to a pair of spectators jumping the fence to put out the fire using fire extinguishers from a nearby marshal post, one of which Pappas had in fact met the day before in the team’s garage.
“He was absolutely transfixed on the car and realised there was no one attending to the car,” Pappas told Sportscar365.com.
“He and the guy next to him jumped up and went for it.
“The fact that he and I had happened to have this encounter the day before, it almost feels not coincidental.
“I’ve since spoken to him to thank him for helping me.
“That’s the testament to the kind of fans you have down at Bathurst.”
Pappas sustained multiple fractures to his pelvis and a broken right arm in the crash, and was airlifted to a hospital in Sydney where he was stabilised and prepped for travel back to the United States.
From there, the California native flew back to his home in Los Angeles and underwent surgery the following day.
He recalled the frightening moments in the lead up to the impact.
“When I went to the brake pedal at The Chase and the pedal goes to the firewall, you know where you are on the circuit, you know how fast you’re going and you know that it’s not going to be an easy little moment,” he said.
“I wrestled the thing to try and get as much distance as I could before I hit something.
“I ended up spinning the car and ended up hitting a retaining wall in front of the hotel.
“It’s unfortunate that so few of the walls at Bathurst have any kind of protection because I think that my accident would have had far different circumstances if there were four or five rows of tyres.”
Six weeks into his recovery program, the 45-year-old is confident he will be well enough to get back behind the wheel of a race car by the end of the year and has targeted a return to racing in early 2020.
Pappas praised the support of fans and the motorsport community which has helped him get through the challenging few months.
“I’ve had an unbelievable number of phone calls, text messages and emails from fans, officials, other drivers, old crew,” he said.
“Everyone in this racing community sticks pretty closely together and that has meant a lot to me and has made it a lot easier to get through.
“I sat with those injuries in Australia and flew home to get surgery in LA. That wouldn’t have been possible without the support of everyone in the paddock.”