By Bill Hennecy
Everything is supposed to go right when all protocols are followed and everything is double checked. Safety is of utmost concern when doing stunts on the edge of sanity. Chris Morena the lead act in the “Wheels of Destruction” thrill show found himself flying in the air on his way to crashing into the waiting mass of cars lined-up on the front straight away of Myrtle Beach Speedway in the opening night show that took place June 6.
Planning was now in hindsight, as the car had approached the launch ramp. The car was being hurled toward the awaiting collection of cars for what was intended to be a soft landing.
Morena, strapped inside an old Chrysler clunker with a welded in roll cage was no longer in control, as the wind whistled by and the explosive sounds of the pyrotechnics were now penetrating his ears. The car in the air with only silence, as the car has slipped sideways upon exciting the jump ramp. His thoughts, “I’m in trouble, hold on, suck in a breath, this is going to possibly hurt”! His body was rigid when it should have been relaxed, but the earth was now hurtling up and the asphalt was to his right and there was to be no soft landing in the intended stack of cars. The question was this going to hurt? Please, allow me to land in the grass, it’s soft. Now out of control, what is going to happen?
How many times has it done this stunt? Thrill show after show and now impact flat into the grass. The suspension hitting the earth at 60 miles per hour, the metal is heard slapping down and the tires blowing. In an instant the Mcpherson struts on all four corners of the Chrysler driving up out of their mounts. The car steers towards the asphalt and heads to the outside wall, perhaps another impact? The car in now being steered by an unknowing hand. The driver is slumped down, like rag doll. The momentum stops and the car is slowly stopping. The driver Chris Morena is unconscious and as the EMT and safety crew approaches no movement. Often in the thrill show this business this is for effect and allows the announcer a chance to build anticipation. Medical crew members are, definitely worried now, being faced with possible injuries.
Silence and worry, Morena starts coming around slowly. What is your name, where are you? The answers come slowly, do you hurt and can you get out? He responds and now is moving but groggy as he reclaims his senses. The EMTs are cautious and allow him to ride the back of the safety truck tailgate to the start finish line for the cheers of the crowd on hand. Everything is fine as his adrenaline is rushing through his body, but tomorrow he will be sore from the results of a six story plunge to earth.
Things can go wrong, but he has dodged the bullet of ill fate for tonight. Is this what stunt men do, face the elements of danger and defy them? In the case of Chris Morena, the answer is yes! He has triumphed over the fates of the trade of being a stunt man once again.