The Lotus Cars Community banner

1 - 20 of 53 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,221 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I saw this over at another forum and figured I'd share (I'd rather share lighter topics, though) since MINI guys aren't much different from us (a number of us have both) and I know a number of you guys frequent the track (such as the meet on 5/17) and may even have known the guy.


The Capistrano Dispatch - Our Community, Our Voice

Services Friday for Former Capistrano Commissioner

05/27/08 Print


By Jonathan Volzke, The Capistrano Dispatch

Waves of shock and sadness rolled through San Juan Capistrano Monday as word spread about a weekend auto-racing accident that claimed the life of former Planning Commissioner and Rotarian Joe Drey.

Drey, 75, died after an accident Saturday at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park in Kern County, where he was driving his 2002 Mini Cooper.

“His passing has broken our hearts,” his family said in a statement. “We are most grateful for having surprised him this past February with a family gathering in Healdsburg California, celebrating his 75th birthday. Joe said it was the best gift he could ever have had.”

His wife, Valerie, said Joe died doing something he loved. “What more could anyone hope to have,” she said. “We will never get over his day to day absence from our lives but we are ever so grateful we had him at all.”

A Rosary for Drey was scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mission Basilica, where a funeral Mass was scheduled for noon on Friday, June 30. He was to be buried immediately afterward at Ascension Cemetery, 24754 Trabuco Road in Lake Forest.

Drey was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2004. On his commission application, he noted that he had served on the Westminster Planning Commission and had been a vice president of two companies. He earned his bachelor of arts from Loyola University and, like Valerie, was also a licensed real estate broker.

“Joe did his homework and he loved San Juan Capistrano,” said Sheldon Cohen, a longtime member of the Planning Commission who served with Drey. “He was a good guy. A great guy. I got sick to my stomach when I heard what happened.”

An avid driver, Drey stepped down from Rotary and the Planning Commission in 2007 to spend more time with his family, and on the track. As he told The Dispatch then: “I'm finally totally retired and can spend all the time I want with Valerie, family and my grandkids in Walnut Creek, [as well as] spending fun time on racetracks with my modified Mini ... plus not having interruptions to our beloved three-week trips to Italy.”
Joe Drey was also a wine connoisseur. He and Valerie are members of Mission Parish Church and were supporters of the old Mission.

Drey recruited Capistrano resident Larry Kramer to join Rotary shortly after meeting in a coffee shop. Kramer went on to be president of the local club, again at Drey’s recommendation.

“I am very sad to hear of the passing of Joe Drey,” Kramer said. “Joe was my sponsor and mentor in Rotary … At some point later Joe resigned from Rotary to devote time, as he said, to racing and travel. Again, Joe realized his interests now were elsewhere and rather than go a something half-hearted, he wanted to give it his full attention.

“He was a great friend and Rotarian. Whenever I saw him, he lit up when he talked about Italy and racing his Mini-Cooper. I will always remember Joe.”

Willow Springs is in the Rosamond area of Kern County, about 140 miles north of San Juan Capistrano. Willow Springs is actually made up of six race courses, but the main track is a 2.5 road course with nine turns that the Willow Springs Web site describes as “super fast.” According to the Web site, the course is unchanged from when it opened in 1953, and allows speeds between 70 mph and 170 mph in the corners and up to 200 mph possible on the straightaway.

Drey’s Mini-Cooper S crashed in turn nine, the last before the finish line/pit stop area. The weekend’s events were sponsored by the National Auto Sports Association, an amateur racing group. Details were sketchy, but Drey was airlifted from the track to a hospital. He died Sunday after undergoing several surgeries.

He is survived by his wife Valerie, four children and seven grandchildren, his sister Edda, numerous nieces and nephews, cousins and friends. His family includes daughter Christina Aliseo, son-in-law William Ray and grandson Tyler Witte; daughter Lisa Crist, son-in-law Bob Crist, granddaughter Stephanie Crist and grandson Bryan Crist. He also leaves behind a son, Kurt Michael Drey, daughter-in-law Audrey Darlene Drey, granddaughter Sunflower Camille Drey and grandson Kai Indigo Drey; another son, Kristopher Drey, daughter-in-law Ellen Drey, grandson Jack Drey and granddaughter Livia Drey.

The family asks that donations be made to the Mission San Juan Capistrano Preservation Fund in lieu of flowers. Donations can be made at Mission San Juan Capistrano - The Jewel of the California Missions
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,221 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
From what I heard, he lost it in Turn 9 when he put two off on the outside of the corner and came back across the track and rolled. I have seen pics of the car (sans driver) on a flatbed. I won't post them unless people feel that is merited.

As I understand it, the wreck went down like this one:
<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/M8ygjttKdF4"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/M8ygjttKdF4" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,743 Posts
:eek: That's horrible! RIP

Does anyone have more specific details about what might have gone wrong?


.
+1...sad to hear, but we need details about the accident since many of us here go there and some who havent been there plan on going there, for safety reasons in the future.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
773 Posts
...put two off on the outside of the corner...
Sounds like he lost his line going in. ...??? Mechanical issue? Medical one? As FLuX says - more information, if known, would be greatly appreciated.

Condolences to all affected. :( RIP.
-Grant
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
123 Posts
I was on track in that group when the accident happened. He was a very nice guy and from what I hear a very competent driver. I got out on the track late and while i was warming up my tires, he flew past me in a small group of cars. He was really flying but was in control. I guess he hit the apex too early on turn 9 which will exit you right onto the dirt on the left. At that point, he tried to save it, which shot him across the track. Once on the dirt, going at that speed, physics takes over. He hit the berm on the inside which caused his car to flip. One photographer onsite said his car went 10-15 feet airborne. From what I hear, he was partially ejected and suffered severe injuries. The support personnel were on top of it right away and a medi-vac helicopter was there within 10 minutes. It was very sad to see. :( Be really careful out there guys!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
454 Posts
"partially ejected???" :eek:
Very sad to hear as also an owner of Mini... :(
RIP
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
123 Posts
He was a nice guy too. Came up to my cousin before the event and chatted with him (my cousin had a brand new Mini Cooper). From what I read on the other forums, he is not new to racing nor to Willow Springs. He had done this many times. Just a reminder for all of us to be careful. I needed to take a session off just to regain my wits. It could have happened to anyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,795 Posts
Yikes, do you think the severity was attributed by the fact he tried to save the slide instead of just take it off road? I hear that's often a cause of major accidents on track.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,221 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I was on track in that group when the accident happened. He was a very nice guy and from what I hear a very competent driver. I got out on the track late and while i was warming up my tires, he flew past me in a small group of cars. He was really flying but was in control. I guess he hit the apex too early on turn 9 which will exit you right onto the dirt on the left. At that point, he tried to save it, which shot him across the track. Once on the dirt, going at that speed, physics takes over. He hit the berm on the inside which caused his car to flip. One photographer onsite said his car went 10-15 feet airborne. From what I hear, he was partially ejected and suffered severe injuries. The support personnel were on top of it right away and a medi-vac helicopter was there within 10 minutes. It was very sad to see. :( Be really careful out there guys!
This is what I've heard as well. I've also read that he had a racing seat (I've seen it in pics) and four-point belts. So, despite the belts, he was partially ejected.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,221 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Yikes, do you think the severity was attributed by the fact he tried to save the slide instead of just take it off road? I hear that's often a cause of major accidents on track.
Taking it off road is ideally what he should have done. Then it would have probably ended like this:
<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/pn3cV1usGoU"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/pn3cV1usGoU" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,002 Posts
So sad. RIP. :(

From my limited experience at the Big Track, (others like Jack and Macfly can speak much better to this) turn 9 can really catch you out. There's no clear turn in, and it's very easy to early apex and put two wheels off, where you have a very sketchy infield and (eventually) pit wall awaiting you. Once off at Big Willow, (as in the open wheel video above) you need to train yourself to allow the car to slow in a straight line before returning to the track. The infield is pretty harsh, and oversteering while trying to whip the car back on the track at 100+ can and does lead to catching rocks, which may lead to flipping. I'm not saying that's what occurred here, but it was a concern of mine when running there.

I'd personally feel a lot better about Willow if the owners would make improvements to the infield, add gravel, etc. After running at Miller last week, I felt a bit spoiled.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,094 Posts
I have only raced at willow springs once so far, just a few months ago.
turn 9 is one of the hardest corners i have ever dealt with. there are really no reference points to use, so when you get it right, its tricky to duplicate what you did.
its really fast, and IMO, the key to getting a good lap time. if you get it wrong, you lose tons of time down the straight, and into turn 1, and turn 2 as well.
after my weekend at the track, which was about 5 hours on the track, i finally felt that i could hit the turn 9 just about flat out in my formula ford. I was still a bit slower than the fastest pack of cars, and it was only due to a slight lift coming into 9.
I could easily see how someone could lose it there, and end up with big problems.............
as far as partially coming out of the car, this is a reminder to have your harness as tight as you can possibly stand to have it.
the only way to really get it this way is to have someone else crank it down for you. if you just pull straight down, you can snug it up, but if you "saw" at the harness side to side, you can easily crank that down to where you almost cannot breathe. I always exhale, and have someone crank that thing really tight. it feels horrible while on the grid, but after 1 lap, you dont feel it, and are one with the car.
its terrible to hear what happened, and my condolences to the family.
just another reminder to respect the speeds we run, and your fellow drivers, allowing them room on the track, so that were are all having a fun time, but while being safe.
again, and i am very saddened to hear about this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,789 Posts
Sad indeed :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
891 Posts
I was at Big willow a couple of months ago and didn't have that big of a problem with turn 9 but turn 1 was the one I had trouble with because it seemed like the asphalt would run out a little short. When I went out, I just followed the others' line so turn 9 was hit flat out. I hit about 125-130 down the front straight in my S.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
123 Posts
I agree with that video above. Turn 9 IS very easy to apex early. I almost did it once and went off. The best thing to do is do exactly what the driver did in the video above. So watch and remember in case you do ever go off. Its not worth saving it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,519 Posts
Very tragic and sad. My heart goes out to those of you who knew him and his family.

That infamous turn which has taken many good drivers down. Whenever I hear of a major accident on WS turn 9 it's usually a well seasoned driver which is very strange since one would think that they would not attempt to save it, given their level of experience. Something happens to the psyche when we're really going all out, regardless of the sport, that compels us to try harder even when we know we're down. It's a survival instinct. It served early man well when the going got rough and it serves us well in many sports today, but it's not helpful in the sport of car racing. It's just an ancient instinct we all need to leave on the tarmac. The game is over when you off-track - just try to ride it out gently with minimal input, and, if you're lucky, as on WS-T9, you have runoff if you do so. It's a very tough instinct to avert, however, which is just one of many reasons I'm not crazy about WSIR. I haven't driven it in over 20 years and the term T9 still brings back hairy memories. The dirt is rocky, the turn is near blind, speeds are very high, it's pretty nerve racking. I like challenges and even danger, but T9 is the proverbial "dead man's curve" of all tracks in SoCal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
729 Posts
1 - 20 of 53 Posts
Top