BRASELTON, Ga. - Popular Canadian racing driver Ron Fellows, who drove the last two races of the 2003 American Le Mans Series season with a painfully dislocated shoulder, will undergo surgery Dec. 1 in Indianapolis to repair the damage.
Fellows, who drives for the factory Chevrolet Corvette team in the American Le Mans Series, has won the GTS class driving title the past two seasons in the sports car racing series. He expects to be fully recovered from the surgery to begin his title defense when the 2004 ALMS season starts with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 17-20.
Fellows injured his left shoulder in a rock-climbing accident on Sept. 20 near his home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, Ont. After originally seeing a doctor in Toronto, he traveled to Indianapolis to see Dr. Terry Trammell, a noted orthopedic surgeon who has long been associated with the treatment of injured racing drivers.
"There was more damage to the shoulder than we initially thought, including a fracture," said Fellows, who noted that the surgery will repair rotator cuff and ligament injuries. Dr. Stephen L. Kollias, an associate of Trammell's at the OrthoIndy group and a shoulder specialist, will perform the surgery.
With Trammell's help, Fellows was able to painfully complete the minimum amount of laps required for him to earn points in the ALMS event in Miami on Sept. 27, one week after the injury, with co-driver Johnny O'Connell doing most of the driving for the team in the race. Fellows and O'Connell clinched the GTS class driving championship by finishing fourth in that race.
"It was important to see Dr. Trammell and get a more racing-oriented treatment plan before Miami," said Fellows, who also helped Chevrolet beat Ferrari for the coveted Manufacturer's Championship in the GTS class. Fellows drove in the Miami race and in the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta with an arm restraint similar to those used by sprint car racers. "That restraint was very vital, especially for Miami," he said.
Fellows, who has had to sleep in a special sling to prevent him from raising his arm more than 45 degrees, helped the Corvette team conduct tire tests for Goodyear last week at Sebring International Raceway, his last racing activity before the surgery. The team has another major test scheduled for early February and he expects to be able to participate.
"Dr. Kollias said nine to 10 weeks, which will put me at the beginning of February," he said. "I'm pretty sure I can be ready to drive by then and not do any more damage."
While he won't miss any racing, the surgery and resulting recovery will cause Fellows to miss a winter of playing ice hockey, one of his favorite activities, as well as spending time on the ice with his two young sons.
"Not being able to have fun on the ice with my boys is going to be tough because they are really heavy into hockey," he said. "I'll miss that a lot but I'll be ready for racing season."