Photos Courtesy of Georgina Buckley
When Illinois-based racer Georgina Buckley climbed into her nitrous oxide-assisted ’85 Mustang to make a hit in round two of Street Outlaw eliminations at the 15th Annual NMCA World Street Finals in August of 2016, she never imagined it was the wall she would actually be hitting instead.
While flying down the famous Summit Motorsports Park surface on a bye run, Buckley’s throttle stuck and her car slammed head-first into the retaining wall, then burst into fire. Buckley was removed from the wreck and she taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital – it was determined that she sustained six broken ribs, a cracked sternum, concussion, and others injuries.
“Since then, I’ve become a self-proclaimed ‘safety Nazi’,” laughed Buckley, who is surprisingly comfortable rehashing the scary incident. After she arrived back home alongside husband and fellow racer, Dave Buckley, the two assessed the extent of the damage. “I realized that the NecksGen device I was wearing basically saved my life and I would have been killed or paralyzed without it. I hit the wall so hard that my driveshaft shattered, my rear end split, the block broke in two places, and everything got pushed back six or seven inches. My aluminum racing seat actually bent at the top where my head hit, and buckled in back even though it never moved from where it was bolted to the cage. I had a big bruise on the front of my head and couldn’t figure out where it came from, but my doctor said it was from my brain hitting my skull… on the inside of my head!”
Lucky to be alive, Buckley decided that safety was going to be priority number one when she got back to racing. Despite the fact that her Mustang had incredible sentimental value to it (her husband used to deliver pizzas in it and they had owned it for 25 years), Buckley made the decision to have the car crushed by a friend who runs a junkyard. “We were concerned about other people trying to get into it and race it, and it just wasn’t safe anymore,” she firmly attested to why she made the choice to let it go.
Although there’s no replacing the memories that were made with the ’85, Buckley moved forward and purchased an ’05 Mustang roller replacement in October of 2016. “One thing that we had that made it easier to do that is on- and off-track insurance. People usually buy new parts instead, but we paid about $2,800 per year and it covered Georgina’s car for like, $65,000,” noted her husband of why the insurance was well worth the investment.
After the couple brought home their new-to-them Mustang, they began working on a few changes but decided to keep the overall setup fairly similar to the one they lost. First on the docket was to install a new, fire retardant, wrap-around style Racetech seat. After that, the guys at Spaghetti Menders wired up what Buckley calls her “oh shit” button – which she’ll hopefully never need. “It will launch my parachutes and kill the power to the car at the same time,” she explained of the button’s function. “My husband also put a main power lever inside the car, so I can shut the power off without waiting for someone to come up on me.” Additionally, a cage-style gas pedal was added that will wrap around Buckley’s foot, so if her throttle ever sticks again she’ll be able to pop the pedal back up.
Once the safety concerns were addressed, Nick Tucci stepped up to handle the chassis upgrades and make sure the Buckley’s new ride was up to snuff, then it was time to get down to the business of power. Sticking with the same bore and stroke as the previous Mustang’s big block Chevy, engine builder Jimmy Lopez of JLO Competition put together a replacement bullet but updated a few items to ensure a better powerband. Topped with Brodix heads and complimented by Book Racing carburetors, the engine was then bolted to an ATD transmission. Going with nitrous oxide once again, Buckley worked with Robert Lane at Fast Lane Nitrous to supply the new setup.
“It took a lot of time to get everything and have the car finished,” noted Dave, who was disappointed his wife lost out on her 2017 race season but found comfort in knowing she would be safer than ever when she finally did come back out. The wait was worth it, though, as Classic Auto Body did an excellent job painting the finished product before Rage Wraps moved forward installing the eye-catching new graphics. “Thanks to everyone who helped get the new car ready, and to our best friends Geoff and Shannon Butler for their support,” added Buckley.
With the past firmly behind her, brave Buckley is focused on making her return to NMCA competition for the 2018 season in the Edelbrock Xtreme Street category. After having run primarily X275, Buckley didn’t have to make many major adjustments to fit into her new home, and both husband and wife are excited for her to make her big comeback – likely at the second stop on the NMCA series tour in Atlanta, Georgia, in the new year.