(SEBRING, Fla.) Mar. 14, 2001 -Second-year Barber Dodge Pro Series driver Tommy Fogarty will be sidelined for at least six months as the result of serious injuries sustained a week ago in an automobile accident. Fogarty was injured when the road car he was a passenger in flipped onto its roof in a freak occurrence.

Fogarty suffered fractures to the C7 and T1 vertebrae in addition to other nearby vertebrae. A team led by CART surgeon Dr. Steve Olvey operated on Fogarty for nine hours five days after the incident to repair the damaged areas. Fortunately for Fogarty, the injuries did not pose a severe threat to his spinal cord, though injuries of this nature must always be monitored carefully to prevent subsequent spinal cord damage. The operation was deemed a success and the prognosis for Fogarty is for a full recovery. He had planned to drive the entire 12-round series in the No. 66 Dodge Reynard sponsored by Sleep Solutions, XYZ Clothing, Copart, Inc., Race Face and SRC Solutions.

"Relatively speaking, I feel very good following the surgery," said Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif. who has recently taken up residence in Sebring, Fla. "I'm very hopeful of returning to the driver's seat by the middle of the season, and will do everything I can to make that happen.

"After Sebring, I'm returning to California to immediately begin my physical therapy. I'm really disappointed not to be racing for the first half of the year as I am fitter and better prepared this year than ever before," added Fogarty.

Doctors have advised Fogarty to sit out the first half of the 2001 Barber Dodge season whereupon an evaluation will determine the advisability of continuing his driving career. Less than a week after the surgery, Fogarty does expect to attend the first Pro Series race of the season at the Exxon Superflo 12 Hours of Sebring as a spectator.

-George Tamayo