Race car driver still ‘critical’ after crash at Wing-N-It


Four days after a freak accident in which Steven Elmslie crashed his dragster race car into the smokehouse of Wing-N-It restaurant, the driver remains in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital where he was taken for internal injuries he suffered in the crash.

Those who know Mr. Elmslie describe him as “a great guy” and are hoping that he’ll recover and be able to enjoy the sport of car racing once again.

Included among the list of well wishers is Charles Frizado, owner of Wing-N-It restaurant who rushed to the scene when the accident happened on Friday, April 11. “It was a crazy scene,” he said of last Friday’s event. “I was the first one on the scene.”

Shortly before the accident, Mr. Frizado, a racecar enthusiast himself, joined several onlookers outside to watch Mr. Elmslie and his crew as they tested the car in the parking lot of Elmco Tool Company on Peter Road, just behind Wing-N-It restaurant.

“I’m a big motorhead. I wanted to take it for a ride,” he said.

Mr. Frizado described the car as a “mini-drag racer,” unlike a top fuel dragster that can run at 8,000 horse power. Mr. Elmslie’s car, he said, ran with a 350 engine.

“It’s a fast car,” he said, “but it’s not like a top-fuel dragster.”

Shortly after Mr. Frizado went back inside the restaurant, he said he heard “a loud crash” and ran outside. He said he saw the dragster facing away from the smokehouse with the back of the car poking through it.

According to witnesses, the car bolted from the Elmco Tools parking lot, traveled across Peter Road where it struck a low embankment and went airborne, bounced and came to rest against the smokehouse.

Mr. Frizado said he approached the car and found Mr. Elmslie was in and out of consciousness before rescue crews arrived.

“There wasn’t a scratch on him,” Mr. Frizado said.

But there were internal injuries.

According to friends of Mr. Elmslie, he underwent eight hours of surgery after being resuscitated on the way to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

As for Wing-N-It’s smokehouse, repairs are underway.

“It never hit the smoker, but we had to throw away 1,000 pounds of meat in the smoker,” he said.

Besides that, the aluminum shell of the building had to be repaired before the health department would allow it to operate.

“It definitely affected my business,” Mr. Frizado said.

The restaurant, whose menu emphasizes smoked meat and poultry, couldn’t serve its specialty foods for a week.

After reordering meats, the smokehouse chefs have begun the process of adding rubs and marinades to let them sit for three days before being placed in the smokehouse for 14 to 18 hours.

“This Thursday we’ll have our bar-b-que food back,” Mr. Frizado said.

And he said, when Mr. Elmslie is ready, a meal is on the house.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.