SCHENECTADY — A local auto body mechanic said he’s lucky to be alive after a drag-racing crash left him seriously injured last weekend.
Shortly after leaving the starting line at the Kentucky Dragway, Tony Mancini began experiencing throttle issues and lost control of his rear-engine dragster.
He estimated he was traveling 170 miles per hour when his car turned on its side and hit the guard rail, sliding between 400 and 500 feet before coming to rest.
“It was quite a lick,” he said.
The crash left him without a right hand, which was removed because of the significant damage. His left hand was also injured.
Mancini, the owner of Mancini’s Collision in Schenectady, said the design of the car and the first responders saved his life.
Now he’s back in Schenectady and is on the mend.
“Other than my hands, I’m doing real good,” Mancini said.
The outpouring of community support has been tremendous, he said, with a steady stream of text messages, phone calls and well-wishers pouring into his parents’ home in Scotia, offering food and funds to help with medical bills.
A friend from Ohio launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with medical expenses.
“The outreach has been beyond anything my family has ever imagined,” he said.
Doctors removed the cast from his left hand on Thursday. Mancini said he will be fitted with a prosthetic once swelling subsides and looks forward to getting back to work at his Guilderland Avenue garage.
“I just need to get healed up and I’ll be good to go,” said Mancini, who appeared to be good spirits despite the life-changing injury.
“There are people out there who are a lot worse off than me,” he said.
Mancini has been drag-racing since the early-1980s, and is undecided on his future participation in the sport.
“It’s always in the back of my mind,” he said.
Long-time friend and fellow auto mechanic Vince Riggi said his friendship with Mancini goes back decades.
Their fathers were friends, and while Riggi is a generation older, their career trajectories largely mirrored each other.
“He’s always been a big asset to the auto body industry,” said Riggi, who is also a Schenectady city councilman said.
“He’s wonderful. He’s a warm-hearted guy. He’d give you the shirt off his back. He’s very caring. If you need something, you go to Tony — he’s got it, and that’s it.”
To donate, visit gofundme.com/mancinistrong.