INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 17, 2002 -- Veteran Eliseo Salazar, injured in a testing accident in April, will return to Indy Racing League competition at the Firestone Indy 200 on July 20 at Nashville Superspeedway after receiving medical...
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 17, 2002 -- Veteran Eliseo Salazar, injured in a testing accident in April, will return to Indy Racing League competition at the Firestone Indy 200 on July 20 at Nashville Superspeedway after receiving medical clearance July 17.
Salazar, a native of Santiago, Chile, will drive the No. 11 Harrah's/Banco Chile Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. Salazar suffered a torn vertebral artery in his chest during a testing accident April 16 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I feel great, I am training full time, and I am ready to come back," Salazar said.
Thoracic surgeon Dr. John Fehrenbacher examined Salazar on July 17. Based on that examination, Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services, cleared Salazar to drive.
Salazar's return will result in Greg Ray moving into Foyt's No. 41 Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone at Nashville, combining with Salazar and Airton Dare to form a three-car IRL team. Foyt also fields an Infiniti Pro Series car for his grandson, A.J. Foyt IV.
"I told Eliseo that there would be a car for him when he was ready to return," Foyt said.
Salazar's recovery occurred quickly. Doctors originally indicated that Salazar would miss the rest of the season after the emergency surgery.
"I told them that my bones heal much faster than the normal person," Salazar said. "My quick recovery may surprise others, but I expected it. As for racing, it will take me a couple of races to be back in top form because there is no exercise regimen that can prepare you for the rigors of racing at over 200 mph.
"Coming back at Nashville will be tough for me because it is a tough track, and it is only a two-day show, so I will have to get with the program pretty fast."
Salazar, 46, started racing nearly 30 years ago, but thoughts of retirement didn't enter his mind after the accident in April.
"This is my life, it is what I love to do," Salazar said. "Besides, I have to come back because these young guns think they own motor racing."