Chelsea Herbert is optimistic about her chances of getting back into a race car later this year despite suffering a compression fracture in her back.
The 21-year-old was contesting the second round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series when she crashed at Teretonga Park.
The impact with a dirt-filled tyre barrier resulted in a fracture to the T12 vertebra and required careful extraction from the Toyota FT-60 single-seater.
After being admitted last Saturday, Herbert was released from hospital on Tuesday this week and has begun the recovery process, which largely involves keeping her back stable in a brace.
Speaking with velocitynews.co.nz, Herbert said she’s trying to stay positive and keep her head high amid the toughest time in her career.
“I was gutted sitting in the hospital, as soon as I got there the team called my dad to tell him the car was all back together, it had a fresh set of tyres and it was ready to go,”she said.
“At that stage, I thought it was just a muscular thing and I would be back for Sunday, then two minutes later the doctor walked in and let me know it was a break.
“[Giles Motorsport] has been really good. I’ve had lots of messages and words of support. It’s been huge. It’s cool that the motor racing community has come together to help someone while they’re down and picks them back up.
“It’s not the easiest thing to work so hard towards and then week two of a five-week series you’re out already. The injury could have been a lot worse so I’ve got to be grateful for what I’ve been given in a shitty situation. I’m just focused on getting better as soon as I can.”
While annoyed that she’ll not get to see out the remainder of the season, Herbert is conscious it could have been a lot worse.
“The front of the vertebra compacted and then the rear of it has come up, they call it a stable fracture,”Herbert said of the injury.
“The only thing good is that no ligaments in my back have been affected. In terms of that, I’m very lucky, but the back is so fragile. I’ve got to be very careful and make sure that I don’t twist my back or move it in any way that would impact it.”
Herbert is in a back brace that covers the midsection of her body. She’ll be in it for six to eight weeks before physiotherapy and rehabilitation start to get her strong again.
At the moment, Herbert doesn’t know if the injury will have any long-lasting impact on her racing career let alone day to day life. However, she’s hopeful it won’t.
Even as the season hits halfway this weekend at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Herbert has her eye on the 2021 season.
“I want to give TRS another crack. I’ll talk to my supporters and see what they think. They were all pretty happy after the first round and the progress I had made.
“Things may pop up that may change my direction again, I’m not sure, but it would be nice to get in a car again soon so I’m not out of the seat for a whole year.”
Photo: Bruce Jenkins