SONOMA — If you ask any drag racer what’s the worst thing that can happen, you’ll get a few different answers, but most would say the same thing: Not being able to race.
That was the case for Fairfield’s Bruce Lippstreu the past year and a half after he suffered a serious injury to his thumb that required major surgery.
But Lippstreu was back and more than happy to be racing again in his own backyard in his 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix in the Super Stock class during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend.
“I had to have my thumb rebuilt, so I had to take a leave,” Lippstreu said. “I smashed it in an industrial accident. It was just a fluke. All I can say is that when you get a lot of weight dropped on it, they have to do major surgery to it.
“It feels good. I’m glad to be back. I was dying to be back. I just had to wait until I was acclimated enough and feel good enough to come back.”
The main thing for Lippstreu was to make sure he was ready to come back with a car and a thumb that were ready to compete.
“I just wanted to see if I could get back into the swing of it and see if I could still do it,” he said. “I know what I used to be able to do. I wanted to prove to myself that I could still do it. That first run (Saturday morning), that was beautiful. I just broke out and went too fast (and was eliminated).
“I’m just trying to acclimate myself back into it. Now it’s all about me. I didn’t want to rush it. I wanted to make sure that safety was the name of the game. I wanted to make darn sure that everything was right. I wanted to make sure I felt conditioned enough that I could handle it. I wanted to make sure that when (the car) comes back down (from the wheelie), I was under control. I just wanted to make sure I could hold on. I didn’t want to freak out.”
Now that Lippstreu knows he’s back in the driver’s seat, he has plans to race again in the near future.
“I want to go to Vegas, and that will be in October. I’m just now trying to come back out. I took all that time off and am so glad to be back.”