Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS -- Richard Losee can smile now, though it's been a long four years. In the summer of 2006, Losee was driving his rare Ferrari Enzo in the first ever Utah FastPass, an event organized by the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Highway Patrol, when he wrecked.
The pass allowed a limited number of drivers, who paid thousands of dollars, to drive fast on a closed road raising money for Utah charities. Each driver would get a "ticket" for speeding and the "fine" would go to a local charity.
The FastPass route in 2006 took the driver to Highway 257 in Millard County. Losee was able to get his Ferrari to 206 miles an hour. Then he lost control of it and crashed.
"I remember very little about the crash," said Losee during an interview last month. "I was under a neurosurgeon's care for a year, but he gave me a clean bill of health, and I think I'm doing pretty well now."
UHP Captain Doug McCleve coordinates the Utah FastPass program. He was there when Losee crashed.
"Basically, the car was disintegrated," said McCleve, "My heart sank, and quite honestly, I expected the worst."
The normally brown field of sagebrush was covered in red car parts. The Ferrari shattered into dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces. Losee was still in the main cabin on the car, which was designed to help keep a driver safe in the event of a crash.
He was taken to the hospital in a helicopter while investigators tried to figure out what went wrong. Losee said drivers weren't able to drive the road at a normal speed before going fast on it.
"Somewhere in that area, the car hit a whoop and took flight and ended up rolling multiple times," he said.
Looking back, McCleve agrees that allowing the drivers to see the road before going hundreds of miles an hour on it may have prevented the accident.
"The best scenario would have been to put them in a van or something and to actually drive the course. We didn't do that," said McCleve.
While recovering, Losee said he was thinking of what his grandfather always told him.
"He taught me a youth that if you get bucked off the horse, you should get back on it," he said.
Using his grandfather's word as inspiration, Losee decided to take all those smashed Ferrari pieces, rebuild the very same car, and go after a world speed record.
"It seemed like a good thing to do to put this car back on the road," said Losee.
While the car was being kept and rebuilt at the Miller Motor Sports Park in Tooele County and Steve Harris Imports in Salt Lake City, Losee took part in the next four Utah FastPass events in different cars. It's an event he believes in.
"The FastPass is a marvelous charity," he said.
In the five years the FastPass program has been in existence, it has raised $1.2 million for Utah charities. Some of those charities include the Honoring Heroes Foundation, which provides help to fallen and wounded Utah soldiers; Public Safety scholarships; and the Rural Utah Communities and Scholarships, which helps rural Utah students get money for higher education.
Every year the FastPass program convoys to three different rural Utah communities. The convoy stops in those towns, the drivers have lunch with the community, and people get to look at the rare and exotic cars that come through town.
"One hundred percent of the money raised for Utah FastPass goes right back to Utah charities and residents," said McCleve.
This past year, the FastPass convoy went through Manti, Kanab, and Huntington. The three communities received a total of $32,000 for being part of the FastPass route.
Ever since Losee's crash in 2006, the FastPass program no longer closes a road for drivers to go fast on. Instead, the program has teamed up with Miller Motor Sports Park to allow the drivers to go fast on the race tracks. Drivers still convoy to rural Utah communities, but they have to obey the speed limit.
"The idea of the FastPass is not to be out on the roads to see how fast you can drive," said McCleve, "that's not what it's about. It's about finding a creative and fun way to raise money for those who could use it."
With the help of mechanics and engineers, the car was put back together this past year. Losee decided to try and set a world speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
"That car, it's just a car, but it was a special car to me," said Losee.
Before the crash, the Ferrari was featured on the cover of Road & Track magazine and in books about Super Cars. Losee, who is an experienced race car driver, thought setting a record would only mean something to him if he could do it in that car. This past October, at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Losee got his chance.
He ended up going 237.8 miles an hour, which set the world speed record for his particular category--the C (360 cubic inch) Blown Fuel Modified Sports category. He also set the record for fastest Ferrari Enzo ever.
"It was a great feeling to be able to set that record," said Losee.
"To be able to get back in that car, the same car as much as possible, and be able to go out and set that land speed record is truly an incredible, incredible accomplishment," said McCleve.
For Losee, his comeback was complete. He said, "It felt like it was something that I needed to do."