An eight-year-old drag racer who died after crashing into a barrier in Perth didn’t brake hard enough to turn at the end of the track when an official waved her towards the exit gate, an inquest has heard.
Anita Board suffered severe head and neck injuries in the crash at Perth Motorplex on November 11, 2017, two days after she had reached the minimum age to compete.
Police investigator John Turner told the WA Coroner’s Court on Monday that Anita’s father Ian Board panicked when he noticed she hadn’t slowed down enough to exit the track and hoped she’d go straight ahead as she’d been taught, but an official waved at her to slow down and go through the gate.
“Ian realised she was just doing what an adult told her to do,” Senior Constable Turner said.
Anita turned sharply at the last minute, smashed into the barrier and despite being securely fastened in her harness, hit her head on the steering wheel, cracking her helmet.
Sen Const Turner said it was possible the impact pushed the steering column towards the driver or the seat moved forward.
This could not be confirmed because the Australian National Drag Racing Association, the main governing body for the sport, cleared the scene and racing continued later that day.
It was initially believed police major crash investigators didn’t need to attend as the track was on private land and they did not examine the scene until two weeks later.
“I believe that they should have gone there on the day,” Sen Const Turner said.
“I would have said to the highest person I could find ‘Major Crash need to attend this’.”
He said the exit gate was at a sharp angle to the track and the gap was narrow.
“Exiting that gate at any speed – I might have difficulty doing it as well.”
He said he believed an eight-year-old was too young to be able to control a vehicle at high speeds, judge distances and take instruction from officials.
Anita died the day after the crash and her heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys were donated.
Junior drag racing was banned in WA as a result of the tragedy.