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Caleb Coan Escapes Wild Flip at Moulton

Caleb Coan Escapes Wild Flip at Moulton

MOULTON, Ala. (April 28) — The last time Caleb Coan of Moulton, Ala., was making frequent headlines on the Crate Racin’ USA Weekly Racing Series during the 2021 season, he raced 43 times in the 602 Late Model Sportsman division, winning 15 events and finishing in the top five 38 times while posting top-10 finishes on 40 occasions.

Counting non-sanctioned events held around the region before the Weekly Racing Series’ inclusive dates got underway (and after they ended), Coan’s team raced 55 times during a very busy season. He finished third in the national points standings behind the division’s champion Morgen Lambert and runnerup Ryan King, who claimed the crown in 2020.

His latest splash on the organization’s Weekly Racing Series was spectacular on a different note, and definitely not as much fun. Coan suffered a wild flip on the final circuit of a 15-lap feature event in his planned return to the sport Friday night at 3/8-mile Moulton Speedway, severely damaging his machine and fortunately escaping injury during a wreck that silenced the grandstands until the announcement was made over the public address system by track announcer Thomas Montgomery that all involved drivers were okay.

“I’m a little stiff, but not as bad as I’d figured,” Coan said in a telephone interview less than a week after the accident. “The only thing that was really hurting was my tongue, because I bit down on it when the car started flipping.”

The good news is that Coan was in contention for a victory as the field headed towards what turned out to be a wild final circuit at the Keith and Amanda Steele-operated facility, part of a three-car battle for the checkered flag.

“We were running in lapped traffic for a few laps, and a couple of ‘em were kinda inconsistent,” Coan said. “There was three of us running together and we were all trying to pass the leader, and then there was me trying to pass the lapped car. He went the wrong way at the wrong time, and my right-rear tire caught the fence entering turn one, and it sucked the right front into the wall.”

From there, Coan was holding on for the rest of what turned out to be a very rugged ride. The car barrel-rolled several times before coming to rest, scattering broken parts across the width of the first corner until it came to rest in a smoking heap. Coan climbed from the car to cheers from a crowd that was much relieved to learn he was unhurt.

“It all happened so fast,” Coan said. “It knocked my hands off the steering wheel, and I remember my left hand hitting the dirt, so I jerked it back inside the car and grabbed my right shoulder to keep it from flying around. I distinctively remember my hand feeling the mud on the racetrack. It all happened really, really fast.”

Coan has been much less active over the past two seasons, but did compete 13 times in 2022, and collected three victories. Every start he made resulted in a top-10 finish. This year his racing has slowed even more during the early weeks of the season. He was making his first start of the year on the night of the crash.

“We got a really late start this year,” Coan said. “It’s been a slow go for us. We’ve been working a lot, and life’s been slowing me down. Within a few weeks, we should be back racing, but we’ve got to fix this mess and hopefully come back stronger. We might not race at the level we have in the past, and especially after this wreck.”

The Courtland, Ala., driver remembers working with former driver Mark Mears during that competitor’s heyday in the sport, when Mears was winning often and competing as a regular across the local region on the Southern All Stars Dirt Late Model Series. Coan credits that experience as a crew member with his success in the sport, and also for having the right safety equipment in his car when the big one happened.

“My mentor Mark Mears and [former driver] Ronny Lee Hollingsworth have always stressed to me to have good equipment, and that paid off in this accident because the safety equipment sure did its job,” Coan said. “We have always tried to get the right stuff. Growing up, I helped Mark [Mears] and worked for him on his car. It was a good way to learn, and seeing how they did things.”

Those memories are dear to him, but he figures he’ll shake off the bad ones from the wreck that sent him into a frightening series of flips.

“I don’t really know how many times the car turned over, but some people told me it was seven or eight times,” Coan said. “It was definitely a wild ride."

His comeback might be delayed for a bit due to the accident, but Coan and his team methodically went to work a couple days after the incident. There will be financial considerations as they piece the car back together, but no lack of effort on the part of team members.

“We’ll be out a few weeks for sure,” Coan said. “It did not kill the frame, but practically every single bolt-on part that’s on the car will have to be replaced. It ripped the right front completely off the car, and there’s probably more that we’ll find once we dig into it. I’ve been buying some of the parts already, and we’ll strip it down and see what else we’re gonna need. It’ll be awhile, but we’ll be back.”

Article Credit: Brian McLeod