Whether to satisfy your competitive urge or simply your curiosity, there’s no safer place to flog your street car than at a designated, closed-course drag strip. After all, that’s the very reason sanctioned drag racing exists in the first place. But make no mistake, there’s some inherent risk in taking the tree at a drag racing facility; risk that’s sometimes out of sight and out of mind.
You see, the vast majority, if not all, auto insurance companies have policies regarding the competitive use of a vehicle, and that policy is pretty straightforward… “it ain’t covered.”
Now, more often than not, those racing their street cars and dailies don’t encounter any damage at the track to warrant a sticky and perhaps expensive situation, but Oklahoma native Tim Barnum did, and unfortunately for him, it not only resulted in the loss of his then-brand new Ford Mustang, but it also landed him in jail for insurance fraud.
In August of 2015, while racing at the Thunder Valley Raceway Park in Lexington, Oklahoma, Barnum lost control of his 2015 Mustang and plowed head-long into the concrete retaining wall, causing significant damage to the shiny new pony car that was eventually deemed a complete loss by Farmer’s Insurance. The only problem was, Farmer’s Insurance was told a different story.
As court records show, Barnum, a self-proclaimed drag racing enthusiast, claimed that he had a tire blowout on Highway 77 and struck a center barrier. Farmer’s issued a check for $13,697.78, and a credit union was paid $18,722.83 as the lien holder.
The bad news for Barnum was that Sean Melton of Urban Hillbilly Videos was there at Thunder Valley that night and captured the entire ordeal, which was uploaded to YouTube and viewed, to date, almost 34,000 times. One of those 34,000 views, coming nearly two whole years after the incident, was a representative of Farmer’s Insurance, who discovered the real cause of the damage to Barnum’s Mustang.
That information, as reported by News 9 in Oklahoma City, was turned over to the Attorney General’s Office, who as part of their investigation, interviewed the wrecker service that towed the Mustang off the track. Rather than deliver the vehicle elsewhere, it was towed to Barnum’s pit area, and the bill was made out to a “Garnum” rather than “Barnum”.
Barnum was then confronted about not disclosing to the insurance company the fact that the car had been damaged while drag racing, to which he responded, “because they didn’t ask.”
Barnum turned himself in at the Oklahoma County Jail and bonded out.
The moral of the story is, if you can’t afford to replace it, don’t race it. And if you do, don’t lie to your insurance company if things go South.