Gidley makes comeback after three-year rehab
Memo Gidley returned to the cockpit of a racecar for the first time since his massive accident in the 2014 Daytona 24 Hours at Sonoma on Thursday.
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The 46-year-old suffered fractures in his back, knee and heels after his GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Riley Daytona Prototype collected the rear of Matteo Malucelli’s slowing Ferrari three years and five months ago, and has since undergone eight surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation period.
Gidley tested the Pirelli World Challenge team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R today and completed “close to the distance of a PWC sprint race”, which lasts one hour.
“It felt awesome,” said Gidley. “It felt so natural, it’s just such a comfortable environment for me.
“I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and this was my goal.There were a lot of days where it wasn’t going well, but I just kept imagining getting back out on the track, getting back behind the wheel.
“I just wanted to be a driver looking for a ride, and now I am back.”
Despite Gidley’s lack of familiarity with the car, engineer John Ward said he set some competitive lap times.
“It was great to see Memo back in the ‘Red Dragon’ and it brought back a lot of great memories for me and the rest of the GAINSCO guys. After all he has been though, Memo is back.
“He jumped right in and went out on a pretty green track and within just a couple of laps he was turning competitive lap times and giving great technical feedback, just as he always has.”
Team boss Bob Stallings paid tribute to Gidley’s determination in getting back behind the wheel, having monitored the recovery process.
“It was a great day for him and all of us on the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings race team,” said Stallings.“His indomitable human spirit is amazing and an inspiration. He has come back from very difficult circumstances to do what his heart yearns for – racing.”
Gidley has set his sights on a racing return this year, but no announcement has yet been made on when this will happen.
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