A demolition derby driver famous for always escaping pile-ups has reached the end of the road and retiring – because he believes his luck has run out.
Fearless Steve Hemmings, 40, has been racing stripped down road cars since 1993 and has completed more than 1,000 races all around Europe.
The father-of-two is well known throughout the stock car community as ‘Psycho’ because of his fearless driving style – and the string of horrific crashes he has managed to survive.
Incredibly paramedics have told him he has dodged certain death by just centimetres TWICE.
Now ‘lucky’ Steve has decided to hang up his stock car keys for good after promising himself he would quit at 40 – before his luck runs out.
The welder believes if he ever climbs back in a demolition derby car he will be killed in one of the dangerous pile-ups he has so far always walked free from.
But despite the draw of a quiet life with his family he is facing staunch opposition to quitting from his own FIANCE – partner of 14 years, Natalie Hardwick, 32.
Steve yesterday said: “I thought that she would be relieved. But she’s actually really upset it’s all over. She loved the races.
“I just said that I was going to pack up when I was 40 and then I finally reached it so I kept my word.
“You can change your driving style but you’ve still got people out there who want to hit you.
“If you don’t just leave then you risk not being able to give it up. It is a drug and you get addicted to it but I don’t want to take any more risks.”
“The whole sport takes you away from your family a lot and like I said little things like going on holiday is really difficult.
“I think my family are just looking forward to a quiet summer for a change and a quiet family life.”
Full-time Natalie said: “I’m gutted and I don’t want him to stop because it’s all we’ve ever known.
“I did try and talk him out of it. Even if he calmed down other people would still do stuff to him.
“But I’ve got plenty for him to do that’ll keep him busy at home.
“I want patio furniture made out of cars, and a barbecue and stuff, so he’s got to do all that for me over the summer.”
Steve said his grand farewell at a memorial meet last Saturday (18/5) and got behind the wheels of a HEARSE as he prepared to say goodbye to his adoring fans.
Before his retirement, Steve dedicated all of his free time working on refurbishing a shed full of 40 cars and has blown #10,000-a-year on the bangers – a total of #200,000 since he started.
His two most serious collisions came when Natalie was heavily pregnant with his two sons, Harry, nine, and Sam, three.
At one race at Wimbledon in 2003 he was sandwiched between a fence and two fellow racers – causing his car to fold like “crisp packet”.
But on that occasion his slight stature saved his life and he was well enough to walk away from the wrecked carcass of his car with just scrapes and bruises.
It was at a meet in Sheffield in 2009 though that Steve’s children came closest to being robbed of their father.
In a similar incident to just six years prior Steve’s car was crushed between two cars and the fence after he was rammed head first into the iron railings.
His car folded in HALF and he was dragged from the carcass as his ribs began to be crushed by his displaced steering wheel.
Astonishingly he managed to escape with minor injuries and multiple stitches.
But despite a career spanning over 20 years Steve has only managed to win FIVE races – despite attending a whopping 500 meets.
Now that he has completed his farewell race, Steve can look forward to a future of soap operas and film nights rather than hospital wards and his SHED.