Friends and family pay tribute to a young man tragically cut down in his prime

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Rourke WalshThe West Australian
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Friends have paid tribute to “born and bred” Albany man, Brody Ford.
Camera IconFriends have paid tribute to “born and bred” Albany man, Brody Ford. Credit: Instagram

A cheeky young bloke who could get away with it — that is how the family of Brody Ford remembered the 26-year-old yesterday, a day after his tragic death in a high-speed racing crash.

“He was a cheeky kid with attitude but everyone loved him for it — that was who he was,” said his devastated mother Lynda Ford.

“He was just so young, the world was his oyster.

“He worked hard and he had the cash to go out and do the things he wanted to do, but he still had a lot of stuff up his sleeve that he wanted to tick the boxes for as well.”

Mr Ford was pulled from the wreckage of his Shelby GT500 Ford Mustang by rescuers just before noon on Sunday after the vehicle failed to stop at the end of the drag strip, slammed through a fence and burst into flames.

The “born-and-bred” Albany boy had returned home to compete in the annual Racewars event, a competition that allows drivers to test the limits of their cars in a 1000m VMax sprint.

Brody Ford’s Shelby GT500 Ford Mustang.
Camera IconBrody Ford’s Shelby GT500 Ford Mustang. Credit: Instagram

His parents, both motoring enthusiasts who still live in Albany, were at the track for the event and saw the horror unfold as their son’s car left the airstrip and rolled several times before exploding in flames.

“We were there, we saw him do the VMax challenge and we saw the gravel dust and knew that he had gone off the track,” Mrs Ford said. “We just jumped in our car and just flew down there. It’s devastating. No parent should ever have to see their child having CPR in a paddock that is on fire and a mangled wreck.”

Mr Ford was airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital after the crash but his mother said that was so his organs could be donated to help others.

Mrs Ford also refuted speculation he had suffered a cardiac arrest during the pass.

“We realised in Albany that there was no coming back from how bad he was injured but they did ask if he wanted to donate his organs and as a family we decided that it would be something that he wanted to do,” she said.

“He was flown by the RFDS to Royal Perth Hospital and his dad and I went straight up in the car.

“We sat with him until the early hours of this morning and then we took him off the ventilator and that was it.”

Mrs Ford said her son had long been passionate about cars — something he shared with her and his father, Hank Morrison.

“He used to come home all the time and him and his dad, Hank, would talk cars and they would be polishing and buffing and cleaning,” she said.

“(The Mustang) was initially Brody’s car. He bought it but was making a few noises about selling it, so his dad jumped on it and said ‘we’ll buy that’ and it then became his dad’s project and he did more stuff to it.

“I think it has been a good thing that I haven’t minded hanging around the cars.”

The wreckage of the Shelby GT500 Ford Mustang on Sunday afternoon.
Camera IconThe wreckage of the Shelby GT500 Ford Mustang on Sunday afternoon. Credit: Laurie Benson

Mrs Ford said the Mustang had undergone some work since it was raced by both father and son at the same event last year but they were unsure what had caused the crash.

The accident put a halt to the rest of Sunday’s Racewars events at the airport, but yesterday’s road race went ahead as planned.

Mrs Ford said the family’s passion for cars and racing might “go on the backburner for a bit” but it would not turn them away completely from the sport and she backed event organisers for continuing with racing yesterday.

“If people are happy to have a race and stick the helmet on and jump in the car, let them go for it,” she said.

“It probably is one of the more dangerous sports, a bit more dangerous than golf, but you’ve got a helmet on and everything around you safety-wise.”

She also thanked the people who pulled her son from the car and tried their best to save his life.

“They were fabulous. There were fireys, there were ambos, there were cops. There was lots of people there and everyone was doing what they could,” she said.

Friend Elliott Price said cars and going fast were what Mr Ford loved most in life.

But he said his friend was also a very caring and compassionate person who went out of his way to help others.

“I heard early yesterday afternoon only a few hours after it happened — news tends to travel pretty quickly in Albany,” Mr Price said.

“What he loved in life was just helping everyone as much as he could.

“I know people probably say that posthumously about a lot of people but he was genuinely a very helpful person and went out of his way to help people to the best of his abilities.

“He was just a fantastic person all-round. He was a positive person through and through.”

Chris Lawson was another man who counted Mr Ford among his closest friends.

“He was a kind and caring person, he was always smiling and laughing and nothing brought him down,” Mr Lawson said.

“My heart goes out to his parents, who witnessed it all.

“Rest easy, dude.”

Brody Ford was fatally injured in a racing crash in Albany.
Camera IconBrody Ford was fatally injured in a racing crash in Albany. Credit: Facebook

Maddison Shanhun, who was Mr Ford’s ex-partner but still a close friend, said he “died doing what he loved the most”.

“He was honest, driven and committed,” Ms Shanhun said.

“Always striving to better himself, always wanting to achieve and succeed.

“His cars were his biggest passion, always in the garage thinking about the next modifications.

“His family and friends loved him unimaginably. His dog Holly was his best friend.

“He will be missed and thought about every day.”

Major crash detectives flew to Albany on Sunday.

Great Southern police district Superintendent Ian Clarke said the crash was now the subject of a coronial investigation.

Supt Clarke said Racewars management had co-operated with police.

“Everyone involved is obviously devastated,” Supt Clarke said.

“They have worked really hard and made a clear effort to run a safe event.”

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