INSIGHT: How near-tragedy and shared values introduced Torrence, Lagana and Toyota collectively

Steve Torrence didn’t have to signal with Toyota. Working as independents on the NHRA Prime Gasoline circuit, Torrence Racing did simply nice with Steve and father Billy claiming trophies from coast to coast. Steve has been dominant, in actual fact, with 51 wins and 4 consecutive championships. However final September, Torrence introduced that each Capco Contractors groups would compete beneath the Toyota banner.

The explanation has nothing to do with racing and every thing to do with what occurred after a near-tragic accident on a distant freeway in Indiana one August night time in 2020.

On Aug. 9 at Lucas Oil Raceway close to Indianapolis, Steve Torrence and his group wrapped up the weekend celebrating their second Prime Gasoline victory. Hours later, shortly after 11 p.m., a kind of crew members, Dom Lagana, was driving a automotive additionally occupied by former Prime Gasoline driver Richie Crampton and crew member Jake Sanders.

In line with police reviews, the automobile went off the street and hit a utility pole. Crampton and Sanders escaped with minor accidents, however Lagana was knocked unconscious and briefly trapped within the automotive, which caught hearth. Lagana suffered a extreme mind harm and unhealthy burns to his legs that required iamputations above the knees. They had been life-threatening accidents, and Lagana spent almost two months in a coma with these closest to him uncertain if he’d survive.

“There have been occasions by means of every thing we didn’t know if we’d have Dom. It was contact and go,” Torrence mentioned. “I’m most likely in a unique mindset than most individuals — I’ve had most cancers, a coronary heart assault, a whole lot of issues which have occurred and I’m a fighter. However generally, there’s some extent the place you simply name it. And there was a part of me that didn’t know if it was time to name it for Dom. His head trauma was horrible.

“Then he wakes up and I’m like, ‘I’m glad I wasn’t answerable for the plug right here. I might need pulled it on you, Dom.’”

Miraculously, Lagana pulled by means of, though he nonetheless doesn’t keep in mind a lot of the accident.

What Lagana does keep in mind is making an attempt to wrap his head round how a lot time he’d misplaced, being visited by brother Bobby and the Torrence household. He remembers fascinated by racing and lacking his group. Lagana additionally felt horrible that he missed his marriage ceremony date, which was speculated to be Sept. 11, 2020. (Lagana and fiancee Sara did marry a bit over a yr later).

Lagana couldn’t avoid racing even whereas recovering. Within the hospital, he watched occasions on his iPad and longed for the day he may get his arms soiled once more. Being stationary — and needing assist with consuming and utilizing the lavatory — isn’t for Lagana.

“I keep in mind my brother (being) in the course of a championship hunt and dealing his butt off, and when he’d come to go to, he’d say, ‘Hey, no matter you need to do, when you don’t need to race anymore, we’ll eliminate all of our tools. We’ll discover different jobs,’” mentioned Lagana. “I appeared him within the eye and mentioned, ‘Hey man, I undoubtedly need to get again to racing so long as you need to. I undoubtedly need to get again to work on Billy and Steve’s automobiles. Clearly, I do know stuff goes to be completely different, however that’s going to be my large motivation to get again.’ It was a no brainer for me. It’s been my life’s ardour.”

Lagana’s first accomplishment was being launched from the hospital proper earlier than Thanksgiving, 103 days after the accident. In February 2021, Lagana obtained his prosthetics as he labored by means of outpatient remedy, finally returning to the race store and work.

Subsequent got here returning to the racetrack. One yr after the accident, Lagana entered his household’s Nitro Ninja dragster (that he’s pushed) in Michigan with drivers Gary Pritchett and Clay Millican. It had not been to the racetrack since 2019.

Over time, Lagana went from being on the observe and again engaged on the Torrence automobiles to being up for going to the staging lanes and beginning line. At first, Lagana didn’t need to be a distraction, so he stayed within the lounge of the hauler. As he obtained stronger, Lagana went to the beginning line however remained in a golf kart off to the facet.

“I mentioned to my brother, Billy, Kay , and Steve, I didn’t need to be out on the racetrack simply because folks felt unhealthy for me and needed me to return hang around,” mentioned Lagana. “I needed to verify — and I knew it will take some time bodily — that I used to be in a position to contribute to the higher of the groups.

“I knew I couldn’t run round like a madman like I used to, however I needed to assist the tip results of the race automobiles.”

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