IRL: Brack returns to the track

Kenny Brack made his first 2004 appearance at a race track today, joining the ...

Kenny Brack made his first 2004 appearance at a race track today, joining the #15 Team Rahal Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone squad he worked with last season in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series.

The Swedish veteran, winner of the 1998 IndyCar Series title and 1999 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race arrived yesterday in the Valley of the Sun to assist the team and substitute driver Buddy Rice with preparations for Sundays' Indy 200 Copper World Classic race on the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway. He spent the morning spotting for Rice.

Brack, who sustained significant injuries in the 2003 IRL season finale is finally, after a slew of setbacks, able to walk a full day without the assistance of crutches and says that his physical condition - for the upper body at least - is back to 100%. "I can do as many chin-ups as I did before the accident," Brack revealed with a smile.

After impacting the Texas Motor Speedway walls at more than 190-gs on October 12th it's been a tough road back for Brack, who spent ten days in a local hospital before being airlifted back to Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital.

He was released from there on December 1st to continue his rehabilitation close to Team Rahal's Hilliard, OH offices, an area where Brack and wife Anita had re-settled earlier in the year as they awaited the birth of their first child, Karma, born December 31st, while Brack was in the same hospital for gall bladder surgery.

I'm feeling pretty good," Brack said after striding into the media center. "I'm slowly coming back without aches and stuff like that. I've set some short-term and long-term goals I guess you'd say. I try to do my best today to prepare for tomorrow. If I do that every day, I can't do much more, can I?"

While he doesn't know how long rehabilitation will take, Brack did note that initially, doctors expected him to be "up and running within six months." That would mean April as a go-ahead point, but there were complications in Brack's recovery, plenty of them.

Once he was released from Indianapolis and returned to Ohio, the problems began to mount. First there was a dangerous blood clot "that we didn't find until much later. I had a lot of fluid in the left lung and trouble breathing," he noted. A CT scan uncovered the clot. "Then I was okay for a couple of weeks before gall bladder inflammation" caused another relapse. It would likely due to his loss of weight after lying in a hospital bed for a month and a half, Kenny surmised.

Like so many other drivers, Kenny Brack has no recollection of the crash. "I've watched it and it was very violent. I'm a very lucky man. God was on my side and all that," he said.

As you might expect, Brack took a proactive stance in his recovery. "I wanted to be part of what happened in that situation. You've got to be on the ball to get the best out of a hospital stay," he advised.

Plans for the future include the pleasantries of fatherhood, but Brack promised he won't be one of those drivers who comes back and toodles around the middle of a racing field if he's not up to running at the sharp end of an IndyCar Series grid.

"Up to now I've had a very successful career. I've been very lucky. I've never had anything but positive thoughts and good people around me. My own motivation is positive, so that makes people around me the same way.

"I'm doing well, considering I spent one and a half months going through all those complications, in bed the whole time and only 3.5 months in rehab. The doctors said that three and a half months is normal recovery for an ankle break, so I'm very pleased with my progress," Brack contended.

"I don't think about being in the car all the time. I think about getting well first, and then I'll think about racing. When I was driving out here this morning, I wondered how I would react to being here. I'm here to help," he said.

"I'm pretty good at drawing lines between things and taking care of business. I need a few more rehab days before I look at driving again, but until I'm feeling physically well enough, I'm not coming back. And I won't be back to run mid-pack," he emphasized.

Showing that his great sense of humor is intact, Brack closed with this homily: "It's a good thing my hobby is playing guitar, not golf. The band is still there and we play sometimes. I just like to have fun with it."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice