CHAMPCAR/CART: Tony Kanaan back in action thanks to safety team

DETROIT (July 27, 2000) - Mo Nunn Racing driver Tony Kanaan ( ...

DETROIT (July 27, 2000) - Mo Nunn Racing driver Tony Kanaan (#55 Hollywood Mercedes Reynard) returned to action in the Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota on July 23, just 33 days after sustaining a broken left forearm, four broken ribs on his left side, and a small concussion during qualifying for the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. While Kanaan started 18th and finished 24th in the race, retiring after 97 laps with mechanical difficulties, it was a small victory for the Brazilian driver just to be back in the cockpit.

"It feels great to be back here," Kanaan said during the weekend at Michigan Speedway. "I would say that it feels like the first race of my life. To be back at Michigan, it's the place where I won my first and only CART race, and it just feels great to be back. I want to say 'thank you,' to all the boys on the (CART) Safety Team. They did a very good job taking me out of the car, and [Dr. Terry] Trammell [CART's Chief Orthopedic Consultant] and [Dr. Steve] Olvey [CART Director of Medical Affairs] took care of me after that and got me back in the car in, amazingly, five weeks."

Kanaan's speedy return to action once again placed the spotlight on the quality of care provided by the CART Safety Team. Since 1984, the CART Safety Team has been providing state-of-the-art safety, rescue, and medical services to the teams and drivers of the FedEx Championship Series. Most members of the Safety Team travel the entire circuit, providing stability for all competitors.

"When they see a friendly face that they know and deal with on a regular basis, 20 races a year, it gives them a feeling of , 'wow, this is a good feeling,'" said CART Director of Safety Lon Bromley. "I don't know how to explain that. Each one of them that I've worked with over the years has always said, 'I felt so at ease when I saw you guys come up.' Or, 'when I see that yellow suit, it makes me relax a little bit and know that I've got help here that knows what they're doing.' I think that's what's very special about the CART Safety Team is that you get the same group of people at all the events. We provide a standard of care that's very consistent and up-to-date with every new modern technology and medicine."

While Bromley is quick to point out that Kanaan's fitness level in the FedEx Championship Series played a key role in his quick return to the cockpit, he realizes that the care provided CART Safety Team had a significant role as well. He also points out that the team's relationship with Holmatro Rescue Equipment, the Official Rescue Tool of the CART Safety Team had a significant role in getting Kanaan back to work.

"It was a pretty good hit for one of our cars," Bromley explained. "Tony was pretty much alert from the outset of the program there, and he was evaluated by a couple of the paramedics and his spine was immobilized. We found that, due to the crush into the tub (the "cocoon-like" structure designed to keep the driver safe in an accident), there was no way to get Tony removed from the cockpit of the car unless we made some adjustments. The adjustments were made by the Holmatro spreader that we inserted into the tub and spread it in two different areas. It freed his thighs from the area that was entangled. We proceeded to put the extricator on and remove him from the car.

"With any type of hydrualic tool, you want a tool that is really dependable. In all honesty, the best tools on the market today for any type of auto extrication are the Holmatro hydrualic rescue tools. They're lightweight, they're very powerful, very strong, and the motor--the pump that runs it--is so quiet you can stand next to it and talk to the people doing the cutting and everything else. It makes a very simple operation because of the quality of that particular equipment."

Holmatro Rescue Equipment has been a partner of the CART Safety Team since 1990. During that time, Holmatro's state-of-the-art rescue equipment has proven invaluable to the Safety Team and has a perfect record according to Holmatro's Director of Motorsports Safety, Patrick Moore.

"We're real happy that, in our ten-year history, every single driver that's been cut or extracted out of a car with Holmatro Rescue Tools has come back to drive in the same season that he was injured," Moore said. "I think that's a miraculous effort. We can't take total credit for it, but it starts with our tools getting them out of the car. I think that's the message that's important. We definitely don't want to take credit that that's the reason they come back. I think it's [the driver's] will to drive that brings them back, but it starts with us safely, quickly getting them out of the car."

Kanaan's return to racing is yet another example of just how valuable the CART Safety Team and Holmatro Rescue Equipment are to the entire CART community.

"I've known these guys for a little bit already, and I knew they would do the best for me," said Kanaan. "We call them angels and that's for a reason. If it wasn't for them, I don't think I'd be back here. They take extra care of us and just do the best job they can. The best way to describe them is they're angels, and they're good angels."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Mo Nunn