By Laurette Nicoll
As he stood, unblinking, with his arms tightly crossed over his chest, Cabot Bigham looked like he needed a hug, and at the same time, needed to bash someone in the face. His wrecked race car was being loaded on to the tow truck.
During round one of the Nitro Rallycross season opener in Utah, Cabot found himself in the last chance qualifier (LCQ) about to clinch P2, which would have advanced him into the final, when disaster struck. We watched as he came off the dirt double onto the paved straightaway and his car inexplicably spun and started to crab walk towards the left into the gravel. A collective gasp rose from the crowd and fans visibly waved, trying to will the car to the right so he could pass under the waving checkered flag, advancing into the final. Instead, we watched as the front left of Bigham’s suspension exploded after hitting an inside tire stack on the track. Bigham didn’t see it through the dust and admitted, “I was pushing hard so I could make the final and didn’t leave myself enough room for margin of error.”
Somehow, Cabot was able to wrestle the car safely off the track where he and the team assessed the damage before being loaded up on the wrecker. Ultimately what they found was that the frame was intact, nothing was sheared off, but they did have to replace the suspension and all the components surrounding it, upper and lower A-arms, shock springs, the whole coil, new axle for the left front and then they restringed the car and made sure it was aligned.
“I don’t think it would have been possible to get me back on track without sustaining more damage to the front differential,” Bigham reflected. “At that point we had no idea how much fluid was in it and we didn’t have enough time to get it sorted.” After Utah, it took three full days to bring the car back to perfect spec where it was ready to go for Minnesota for the second Nitro RX event.
Cabot “Big Ham” was looking forward to round two at the incredible ERX Motor Park facility in Elk River, Minnesota and was looking toward a consistent, fast weekend. But, once again found himself trying to advance into the main event via the LCQ. On the last lap, as he entered turn 2 his car sunk into the soft soil and sent him end over end. Miraculously, the car wasn’t totaled. And most importantly, Bigham wasn’t injured. “When bad things happen, everything slows down,” Cabot recounted. “I knew what was happening very quickly.” He was surprised to find himself rolling more than once, thinking he would tuck then roll back onto four wheels to continue racing. The car took a funny bounce and rolled a couple more times but Cabot knew to keep himself relaxed.
“Those last hits are always the ones that hurt the most or can because you have time to think, ‘Here it comes. Here’s that last one,’” said Cabot, “and you tense up and things get pulled easily when that happens. A lot of the energy and speed had been dispersed when the car came back down at the very end. That one felt the biggest but didn’t give me any injuries.”
Cabot’s dad Michael Bigham, watched the accident unfold live on television. He promptly sent his son the following text:
*The image is of Ben Affleck in the action-thriller movie, “The Accountant,” in which he plays a mathematical savant trained in accounting and extreme violence. He’s the hero.
Is it too late to become an accountant?
His father has always coached him throughout his sporting life. “Find the positive in the negative,” my dad has always said, and we do that through humor,” Cabot explained. “Especially really poorly timed humor normally hits the best; I think that’s a good indication of how we conduct ourselves when things aren’t great,” Cabot said with a smile.
Cabot’s response to his father: “No Chance.”
Someone that is hard to surprise is Travis Pastrana, and when Cabot flipped, Travis gasped and held his breath. Cabot said, “I wouldn’t call that a victory. Travis has been an idol of mine and he and Andreas Bakkerud reached out to me after, which was really kind, and I appreciate that. There was a lot of support from the RX community which was great and gives me hope with the series and how many people are in it for the long haul.”
Cabot has had time to reflect on the last two rounds and offers his take in an insightful delivery explaining that “the beauty of what happened there, if there is any, was that it was very soft, well-maintained dirt and the way the car rolled, it dispersed a lot of the energy so there wasn’t necessarily a massive impact to cause structural damage to the cage.”
The good news is that the cage is intact, and everything can be rebuilt around it. It’s been no small task to get it to where it is now and it’s still not entirely ready, but the team expects it [to be] on track for Arizona. Every single part of the car on the outside was bent or written off, limiting the repairs to bodywork. The subframe was bent and replaced. Thankfully the important things are unscathed, like the cage. And the engine and components in the transmission were fine.
“Realistically, it will be a repair job that takes every minute we have up until the trucks leave for Arizona; people will be thrashing on it and building it back together,” Cabot said. “It’s looking promising, and our biggest concern was tracking down parts for the car, which have been secured and now the mechanics are putting it back together.”
His optimism is hard to ignore when talking about his mindset heading into round three in Arizona in a few short days as he wants to, “be competitive, be quick and learn at my own pace. I understand that I’m at a bit of a disadvantage with the lack of seat time heading into the season but will give maximum effort. I’d like to keep the car in one piece and have good, competitive racing and not focus too much on the first two races. They were rough.”
The saying, “Fall down twice, get up three times” is a phrase that can now be applied to Cabot. Devoted to the sport and hell-bent on moving forward, he has picked himself up after two spectacular racing incidents, refocused his efforts, and is full of gratitude. Especially when speaking about his teammate Tanner Foust. “He’s supportive and his sense of humor is similar to mine where he’ll find the worst and best times to make a joke. I definitely appreciate that.”
Of course, his appreciation runs deep for the entire Dreyer and Reinbold team, as that’s who he won his first RX Championship with and he’s thrilled to be running with them again. It’s a family environment that supports him; his driving and inspires confidence.
You’ve got this, Cabot! Cheer for him, Travis Pastrana, Tanner Foust, Liam Doran, current championship points leader Scott Speed and for the first time ever, welcome Kyle “Rowdy” Busch into the Nitro Rallycross mix November 13-14 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Arizona. You don’t want to miss this!