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Land Speed Racer Remains in Coma One Week After 400-MPH Crash at Bonneville Salt Flats

The attempt was to hit 500 mph in a piston-driven car, making it the fastest run of its type in the world.

A Pennsylvania man is still in a coma more than a week after crashing at the Bonneville Salts Flats while attempting a world land speed record. The cause of the crash is still undetermined, but he was well on his way to the goal speed of 500 miles per hour when the car lost control and came apart on the miles-long proving ground.

Rob Freyvogel’s crash follows closely on the heels of Jessi Combs’ tragic passing in late August. Unlike Combs’ jet-powered car, Freyvogel’s speed machine was piston-driven. Freyvogel’s wife Sue said that his goal was to have the first piston-powered vehicle to reach 500 mph. 

Known as the Carbinite LSR, the purpose-built racer was reportedly traveling around 400 mph when the incident occurred. The shell of the car broke apart as it was designed to do and Freyvogel was held in the racing cage, but the impact of the crash left him seriously injured. 

Freyvogel was taken to the University of Utah Hospital afterward where he remains unconscious, though his wife says they’re starting to see signs of improvement. 

“He hasn’t woken up, but we are seeing good signs,” she explained to KSL5 on Saturday. “He’s opening his eyes. He’s breathing on his own off the ventilator for almost 24 hours now.”

Not many people know what it’s like to hit speeds of 200 mph in a car, much less double those speeds, but given the potentially lethal consequences of something going wrong, it’s best left for trained drivers. Combs’ death and Freyvogel’s crash highlight how even the most experienced speed demons can fall victim to circumstances outside of their control. Sue Freyvogel highlights this point and talks about how her husband’s years of speed chasing helped him cope. 

“It’s absolutely terrifying,” she said. “It didn’t bother him in the least. He said the car was stable and it was just like driving down the street.” 

Freyvogel’s 54th birthday was Saturday, a week to the day after his incident, and while the family says parts of the car have been sent off for analysis, they are focusing heavily on his recovery and wellbeing.