A local racing enthusiast is at Rhode Island Hospital after he lost control of his dragster race car and crashed it into the smokehouse of Wing-In-It restaurant on Thursday evening.
According to witnesses, Steven Elmslie, 51, of Bristol recently purchased a dragster race car and, at around 5:30 p.m., was working on it outside Elmco Tool Company, a business he owns on Peter Road, located behind Wing-In-It restaurant.
As he and his crew of mechanics made adjustments to the engine, witnesses say that the car began a ‘burnout’ in which the tires spin while the car remains in place. On a racetrack, the maneuver is used to spin the rear tires to heat them up for better traction before the start of a race. Typically, the car remains in place while the friction of the rubber on the pavement creates a smoke show of burning rubber.
On this attempt, however, the tires gripped the pavement, sending the car and its driver across Peter Road, where it struck an embankment and went airborne, bouncing onto the rear parking lot of the restaurant before coming to rest inside the smokehouse.
The car is considered to be a “6-second car”, which in racing terms means that it will travel a one-quarter mile stretch in six seconds.
First responders pulled Mr. Elmslie from the wreckage and resuscitated him before he was transported to Rhode Island Hospital where he underwent surgery for internal injuries. As of early afternoon on Friday, his condition was listed as ‘critical’.
The restaurant remains open, however the smokehouse is shut down.
The accident is still under investigation by Bristol and State Police accident specialists, however Bristol Police Lieutenant Brian Burke said that it appears no charges will be brought against the driver.
“There’s nothing leading us to believe there was foul play. It’s being treated as an unfortunate event,” Lt. Burke said.