CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ...
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth Lola
In the first practice session of the day, Christian Fittipaldi, 29, was involved in a single-car accident at the exit of turn two on the one-mile track. According to Dr. Chris Pinderski of the CART Medical staff, Fittipaldi was briefly unconscious at the scene, but was later awake and alert at the CART Medical Facility. Pinderski also said that Fittipaldi reported slight pain in his right knee. Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs, reported that Fittipaldi suffered a Grade 1 concussion following the incident.
He was transported via ambulance to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood for a precautionary CAT Scan. Dr. Kimberly A. Davis, M.D., attending physician at Loyola University Medical Center reported that the CAT Scan was negative for damage and that Fittipaldi had no broken bones and released him from the hospital.
"I remember being slightly aware that I was in a race car, then I thought I was away from the race track and then back," said Fittipaldi. "I didn't like it at all. Compared to the other times I was unconscious, this was totally different since I could hear and see certain things but wasn't sure if I was dreaming. I have no idea what happened. The car just swung around and I was just a passenger. There is no doubt that I am really disappointed not to be racing."
Per CART rules, Fittipaldi will not participate for the remainder of the weekend since he was rendered unconscious. He will stay in the Chicago area tonight and plans to return to Key Biscayne, Fla. tomorrow to recuperate. He will also miss a scheduled two-day test at Road America where he is the defending champion after driving to his first CART victory in the event last year.
Fittipaldi's last head injury occurred during testing at Gateway International Raceway on August 2, when his transmission failed and he crashed. He sustained a subdural hemitoma from the accident and missed five events while recuperating. He had just scored his first CART win and pole and was only 28 points out of first place in the Championship at the time of the accident. He made his racing return in the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston where he ran as high as second place before a late race pit stop dropped him to a seventh place finish.
Fittipaldi has been involved in the development of the Head and Neck System (HANS) created by Dr. Robert Hubbard since late 1999 and had the system on at the time of his accident today. Fittipaldi as well as his teammate, Michael Andretti were the first Champ or Indy car drivers to voluntarily wear the device in a race and wore the system at the previous event, the Michigan 500, for the first time.
"Based on the discussions I had with Dr. Terry Trammell and the extensive damage to Christian's car, there is not much question that the HANS kept his injury to a minimum as opposed to his injuries sustained in a similar accident at Gateway," said Dr. Olvey. k