Cindy Meyers sat three rows up in the new Daytona International Speedway grandstands, having a great time at her first race, a gift from her son so they could watch Jeff Gordon's final race at the track.
Then came the last lap, in the wee hours of Monday morning, where all she could see was an explosion as Austin Dillon's car smashed into the fence in front of her.
"The car hit the fence, and I thought it was going to come right through the fence," Meyers said. "I thought that was the end of my life when it was coming. ... I'm glad me and my son are alive and whoever else might have got hurt in there."
The 58-year-old from St. Cloud, Florida, said in a phone interview Wednesday that she had no time to duck and is not sure exactly what hit her but that it was big, that her shoulder took the brunt of the hit, and that the debris knocked her to the ground.
Both Meyers and her 32-year-old son were bruised from the debris. She said she has limited movement with pain mostly in her arm, neck and back. Her son has similar injuries in addition to burns on his face and regular headaches; he also took a piece of metal out of his tongue Tuesday. They were treated at the Daytona infield care center, and Meyers was headed to her doctor for a follow-up visit Wednesday.
"It was just a boom," Meyers said. "Stuff just flew like a tidal wave, a big part of the fence came down and stuff was flying everywhere.
"I didn't know if we were going to die, if that car was coming through that whole fence or what. I was mostly fearing I wasn't going to be alive anymore. It was a terrifying experience."
Meyers and her son don't have health insurance. Their attorney, Matt Morgan, who monitored the phone interview with Meyers, said they are not asking the speedway for an astronomical amount of money but will request immediate out-of-pocket medical expenses, as well as reasonable future costs, for the injuries.
NASCAR requires tracks to assume liability for fan injuries, and tracks have $50 million in insurance. After a crash in 2013 injured more than 30 fans, DIS parent company International Speedway Corp. revealed its deductible was $1.5 million. An ISC spokesman declined to comment on any legal claims and whether the current deductible is the same as in 2013.
DIS President Joie Chitwood said Monday that five fans were treated at the track with one sent to a hospital in stable condition. The fan sent to the hospital was released a couple of hours later.
"It was my first race and probably will be my last," Meyers said. "I wanted to experience a race for Jeff Gordon's last time. [My son] took me for my birthday. ... I sure did [enjoy it] until the last lap."