Justin Bonnett has been moved into a standard floor room at the University of South Alabama hospital following his initial surgery resulting from a fiery crash in the Snowflake 100 Pro Late Model crash on Saturday night at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
This is just the first step to a recovery process for the 26-year-old grandson of Neil Bonnett.
Bonnett has been taken off oxygen and is breathing on his own following a 48-hour stint in intensive car. He is scheduled for two additional surgeries on Wednesday.
“Justin has been moved from ICU and into a regular room. He is now off oxygen and breathing well on his own. Justin is currently scheduled to undergo two surgeries (Wednesday) to place rods in his left leg and a procedure to tend to his burns. The family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, concerns and messages. The love and support shown for Justin in this difficult time has been nothing short of phenomenal. Justin says: “It is truly an honor to have all of the support. Thanks everyone for everything.”
Bonnett was injured during lap 54 of the Snowflake 100 when Jarrett Parker spun in front of him, resulting in contact between the two. That contact dislodged the fuel cell on Parker’s race car, igniting a fire that lit across Turns 3 and 4 of the historic Florida half-mile.
It also caught Bonnett’s car on fire.
He suffered a broken a broken tibia and fibula, burns to his face, hands and neck due to being trapped in the car for almost a minute. A GoFundMe page has been established for those who wish to assist the blue-collar Bonnett family to deal with medical costs.
The team was grateful to the racing community for starting the page, which has raised half of the $10,000 requested as of press time.
“Thank you to the Melvin family for starting this Go Fund Me page for Justin. Justin will have medical bills after his lengthy stay in the hospital and will be out of work for some time, as he has a long road of recovery ahead. He is the sole provider for his family and 10-month-old daughter. Together we can make sure he does not battle financial stress while recovering. Thank you for the prayers, encouragement, and any contribution you can make!”
The younger Bonnett lives in Hueytown, Alabama, home of the famed Alabama Gang of NASCAR drivers, which was comprised of Bobby and Donnie Allison, Red Farmer, Jimmy Means, Davey Allison, Hut Stricklin and David Bonnett — Justin’s father.
Criticism was pointed towards the track for not having a traditional fire truck within the infield, but speedway general manager Tim Bryant says the smaller equipment vehicles on-site were actually better equipped to deal with the incident.
“Our safety officials are all firefighters and we leave it in their capable hands and are comfortable with that,” Bryant said. “Some situations are worse than others but we’ll learn from it and see if there were any mistakes. But thankfully our driver isn’t in worse condition because that was a devastating crash and a bad fire. I think our response was pretty good.”