Crash racer recovers to challenge for title

Autograss race drivers Andrew Jefferson and his sister Emily Gill. Pictutre : Adrian Murray (1301224AM)

Autograss race drivers Andrew Jefferson and his sister Emily Gill. Pictutre : Adrian Murray (1301224AM)

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A Pateley Bridge man challenged for honours in an Autograss racing competition, just over a year after breaking his neck in a race accident.

Andy Jefferson, 30, was involved in a collision in his Class Eight Special racer in March 2011, an incident which saw him hospitalised, as he broke a bone in his neck.

In 14 months, however, Andy was back on the Autograss circuit, and raced a Fiat Seicento to second place in the Class Seven Saloon class.

The engine and gearbox from Andy’s original car were salvaged by his sister Emily, who fitted them in a new car to finish runner-up in Ladies Class Eight last season.

Mr Jefferson said: “I am relieved to have come through it.

“My mates think I’m mad, but the support I’ve had from everyone has been amazing.”

Mr Jefferson’s car was thrown into the air in the accident, and he needed cut from the vehicle before being taken to Harrogate District Hospital.

However, he was immediately sent to Leeds General Infirmary, where he was found to have broken the ‘Hangman’ neck bone, which is connected to the spinal cord.

His father Roger explained: “Andy’s mother and I could just see a cloud of dust when the accident happened.

“But a paramedic kept his head stable, and Dr Thomson and his team at LGI were superb.

“The frightening bit was at LGI, but then we were told to expect a decent outcome, and he was able to attend Emily’s wedding in April wearing a ‘halo’ to stabilise his head and neck.

“Thankfully, his spinal cord remained intact.”

There are ten classes of Autograss race, ranging from cars fitted with 1000cc to 4000cc engines. Races take place on quarter-mile oval tracks.

Mr Jefferson strapped two motorcycle engines to a Seicento and completed the five rounds of the 2012 British Autograss Series Saloon Class Seven, missing out on first place by just six points.

His father said: “Andy and Emily have raced from a young age, and he took to the class like a duck to water.

“His mother just asked him to be sensible, and we took suitable advice, and continue to look to the future.”