CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta future is still unknown as recovery slow

Cristiano da Matta's future continues to be unknown at this time as the Brazilian racer continues to fight for his life after slamming into a deer during the Champ Car World Series open test at the Road America road course on Thursday, August ...

Cristiano da Matta's future continues to be unknown at this time as the Brazilian racer continues to fight for his life after slamming into a deer during the Champ Car World Series open test at the Road America road course on Thursday, August 3rd.

No one who hits a deer can easily walk away from the impact nor will their vehicle -- even an SUV can be totaled by the large animal. In da Matta's case he was on a closed racing circuit traveling at over 90 mph when he and the deer collided -- and he was in an open wheel racing machine. Not much protection for "Shorty" -- the nickname given to him due to his stature.

The ace open wheel racer has had an up-and-down career in both Champ Car (formerly CART) and Formula One. Yet in his racing career he has met challenges, won races and championships and given 100 percent. Now he remains in a hospital while others give 100 percent to save his life.

Today in Denver the Champ Car Medical Director, Dr. Chris Pinderski, and RuSPORT president Jeremy Dale held a press conference to discuss what happened, what steps were taken and the continuation of his medical care.

"Cristiano was unconscious from the moment of impact and remained unconscious throughout the extrication. I was on the site as well and secured the airway," explained Pinderski. "We carry specific airway management tools on the safety trucks and ambulances. In this case Cristiano needed a neurological intervention on an emergency basis."

Da Matta was airlifted immediately to the Theda Clark Medical Center where a cat scan was performed to check for all injuries including the known factor of the serious head injury. Emergency surgery was performed by the medical center's neurosurgeon Dr. Randall R. Johnson to remove the subdural hematoma (bleeding of the brain). The surgery was a success as a further CT scans showed no future bleeding and as usual per a serious head injury, there was swelling of the brain.

"These types of injuries, there is typically a brain injury underneath it and the swelling is expected," Pinderski added. "But it is receding. They sedated (da Matta) to limit his brain activity. This morning, he is no longer under sedation."

As for his future progress, that is the unknown factor at this time. As Pinderski commented: "He has been making some progress every day and he is making purposeful movements -- he moves an arm when pinched but he is not responding to spoken commands. His future is still unknown at this point."

RuSPORT has remained by their driver's side along with da Matta's family, girlfriend and close friends. Justin Wilson, his teammate, will race this weekend in Denver but his thoughts, along with the team, continue to be with da Matta.

"More than anything, what I wanted to say was, first of all, thanks to Champ Car and Chris and his team," stated Dale. "They did a tremendous job with Cristiano at the racetrack and really made a difference, there's no doubt. He got to that hospital very quickly and has been very well-cared for. Chris can speak to more the technicalities from a medical standpoint, but they really did a phenomenal job. Thank you to Champ Car for continuing to make investment in what I think is the best safety team in racing, period."

Dale added that the team has "been 100% focused on Cristiano and his family."

According to Pinderski, da Matta will "stay at the medical center for at least two weeks (in intensive care). When he is going to wake up, if he is going to wake up, is still unknown at this point. The injury he sustained, although looked okay on the outside, was quite severe.

"He (da Matta) has made steady progress although it has leveled off a bit in the last 24 hours," Pinderski finished.

When and if the team runs the second car this season has not been decided, Dale did indicate that they "have had some discussion (about drivers) but it has not been a focal point. However, in the next seven days, we should be making a decision."

Friends and fans of Shorty may show their concern and support in two tangible ways:

Instead of sending flowers and gifts, the team request that a donation may be made da Matta's name to Hole in the Wall Camps, an official charity of the Champ Car World Series. Donation information can be found by visiting www.holeinthewallcamps.org, or by calling 203-562-1203.

Those wishing to send cards, may do so at the following address at this time: Cristiano da Matta, patient
Theda Clark Medical Center
130 2nd St.
Neenah, WI 54956

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Cristiano da Matta