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Driver who crashed doing over 400 mph at Salt Flats still in coma

Rob Freyvogel poses with his custom speed vehicle, the Carbiliner. Freyvogel was injured during the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats attempting to take the car to 500 mph.
Rob Freyvogel poses with his custom speed vehicle, the Carbiliner. Freyvogel was injured during the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats attempting to take the car to 500 mph.
Sue Freyvogel

SALT LAKE CITY — Few people can explain what it feels like to go more than 400 miles an hour in car.

Sue Freyvogel hasn’t done it, but she has an idea of what it would be like.

”It’s absolutely terrifying,” Freyvogel said with a laugh.

Even though she has never driven that fast, she has seen it time and time again watching her husband do it.

”It didn’t bother him in the least,” she said. “He said the car was stable and it was just like driving down the street.”

Rob Freyvogel has been racing cars his whole life. Every time he got in one, he always wanted to go faster. His wife has seen him chase that passion for years.

”The goal was to be the first piston-powered, wheel-driven car to 500 (mph),” she said.

To go that fast meant designing a special car.

His racing team did it, calling their creation the Carbiliner, named after his Pennsylvania company Carbinite Metal Coatings.

People loved the car, and the team started gaining fans.

“We were always the underdog and people like that,” said Sue Freyvogel. “Rob and the crew are really personable. They talk about it, they let people sit in the car, they let people touch the car.”

Rob Freyvogel gets into his custom speed vehicle, the Carbiliner, with help from his team. Freyvogel was injured during the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats attempting to take the car to 500 mph.
Rob Freyvogel gets into his custom speed vehicle, the Carbiliner, with help from his team. Freyvogel was injured during the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats attempting to take the car to 500 mph.
Sue Freyvogel

So, when the team went for 500 mph on Sept. 15 during the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats, a lot of people were paying attention.

Then something went wrong.

”We do know that he was going somewhere between 420 and 450 mph when it happened,” said Sue Freyvogel.

Her husband crashed.

Although the car disintegrated like it was designed to, and kept him in the cage, he was badly hurt, and was taken to the University of Utah hospital.

”He is still unconscious,” she said. “He hasn’t woken up, but we are seeing good signs. He’s opening his eyes. He’s breathing on his own off the ventilator for almost 24 hours now.”

Sue Freyvogel says the support the family has received in Salt Lake City from the local racing community has been overwhelming.

“It’s just been amazing how much love and support we have received from everybody. Complete strangers. They show up and offer meals, take me out to lunch, or anything that we need,” said Sue Freyvogel.

Pieces of the car and its components have been collected and sent to manufacturers to try and determine what caused the crash.

“We are not 100% sure what happened,” she said. “It could have been a number of things that led up to it, so we’re not able to say for certain what happened yet.”

Right now, the focus is on Rob Freyvogel and making sure he gets better.

Saturday is also his 54th birthday.

“We always knew that there was a risk,” she said. “It was a risk that Rob was willing to take because he just loved this project and really wanted to go 500.”

A GoFundMe donation page has been set up for the family titled Help the Freyvogel Family.

Rob Freyvogel, center, and members of his team pose with his custom speed vehicle, the Carbiliner. Freyvogel was injured during the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats attempting to take the car to 500 mph.
Rob Freyvogel, center, and members of his team pose with his custom speed vehicle, the Carbiliner. Freyvogel was injured during the World of Speed event at the Bonneville Salt Flats attempting to take the car to 500 mph.
Sue Freyvogel