Multi-time CCS National Champion racer Greg Melka is recovering from serious injuries he sustained in a horrific chain-reaction crash he was involved in during the annual ASRA/CCS Race of Champions October 18 at Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Melka, who had already won two races and National Championships on the weekend, was on board his Pro Flow Technologies Yamaha YZF-R6 Superbike during the CCS Middleweight Superbike Expert race. The 52-year-old Floridan got the holeshot and led into Turn One, but Jason Farrell passed him into the International Horseshoe and led Melka out of the infield and onto the west banking of the superspeedway.
As Farrell started to climb the banking he clipped a non-inflatable section of soft barrier positioned along the speedway’s outer wall, causing him to crash. The soft barrier was displaced right into Melka’s path, causing him to crash at the top of third gear and well over 100 mph.
Melka was thrown to the asphalt and slid down the banking in an unconscious state.
Some riders behind the incident took evasive action and slowed down, but some other riders did not slow down approaching the scene, resulting in more crashes and a rider-less motorcycle striking defenseless Melka.
“My understanding is that soft barrier continued rolling down the banking,” said Melka. “People were trying to avoid it and some dude frickin’ hauling butt crashed into it. His bike shot down the banking and then hit Tyler Hicks. Tyler Hicks was knocked off his bike, and his bike comes and hits me. I got thrown through the air like 15 feet when this thing hit me in the shoulder, and luckily it hit me in the shoulder and not the head. If it hit me in the head I don’t know if I would be talking to you.”
Melka was rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center where he spent the next three weeks recovering from four broken vertebrae, a broken left hip, a broken left scapula, multiple broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a concussion.
Amazingly, none of Melka’s injuries required surgery, and just eight weeks later, he is back riding his off-road motorcycles and mountain bikes, albeit slowly.
Melka’s road racebike was fitted with a forward-facing camera that captured video of the horrific initial crash and the painful aftermath. Melka posted the video recently to YouTube in hopes that something can be learned form it, especially for the riders who came upon the crash scene at high speed.
“I wasn’t sure I wanted to post that (video),” Melka told Roadracingworld.com, “but I was like, if somebody can learn something from this and come out ahead of it…I wanted to at least tell people if you see people riding fast into incidents like this you need to tell them not to do that. I got hit by some dude’s bike!
“Some of my friends were telling me, ‘Well, Greg, there was no red flag. You’ve still got to keep racing.’ And I’m like, when there’s two dudes sliding down the track at 100+ mph and there’s a big [soft] barrier rolling down the banking I think you ought to slow down a little bit. You don’t need a flag to tell you that.”
The video from Melka’s camera is available below. It is best seen on a large screen.