Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference October 12, 2004 Kenny Brack MODERATOR: We'd like to thank you for joining us on today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Joining us on today's call is Kenny Brack, who last year at this time suffered...
Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference
October 12, 2004
MODERATOR: We'd like to thank you for joining us on today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Joining us on today's call is Kenny Brack, who last year at this time suffered serious injuries at the IndyCar Series finale on Lap 185 at Texas Motor Speedway. His crash was one of the more violent crashes in automobile racing history. But over the past 12 months, he has made incredible strides in his comeback bid.
He suffered broken bones in his ribs, leg, both ankles and back. He spent several days at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas before being transported to Indianapolis for his recovery. His recovery actually enabled him to get back into an IndyCar Series car for a test at Richmond International Raceway in June of this year, and we're happy to welcome him on today's call to find out how potential upcoming tests and plans might be going.
Kenny, thank you very much for being on today's call.
KENNY BRACK: Thank you very much.
Q: Ironically today marks the one-year anniversary of that terrible-looking crash in Turn 3 at Texas. We've all seen you in the paddock area at a few races this year. You look good. I guess the first question today is, really how are you feeling? How are you doing?
KENNY BRACK: I'm doing very good. Actually, you know, I was setting my date on my watch this morning, and that's the first time I thought about it was actually a year ago today that the crash happened.
But I look forward. The recovery has gone really well. I'm getting back more and more to normal. Of course, I still feel certain things from the crash, but it's nothing that I haven't learned to live with.
Q: You said for the longest time you hadn't actually seen the crash on video. Have you since seen and watched the crash?
KENNY BRACK: Sure, I saw the crash as soon as I got home. I spent three months in the hospital. But as soon as I got back home to my house, I got a hold of the tape and looked at it, saw everything. You know, during the hospital visits, I obviously saw still photos. But I wasn't in a position to have a video recorder to see the actual live action, live tape basically.
Q: You already tested a car once this summer at Richmond. What are your plans for getting back into an IndyCar Series car?
KENNY BRACK: Well, last time I tested, I concluded after the test that although we were extremely competitive in terms of lap times and stuff like that, I still felt that -- we went to Richmond, which is the most brutal track on the schedule in terms of physical demands, but that's the way we wanted to do it because that's what you're going to face.
But after the test, I felt I really wasn't fit enough to drive one of these cars in a race because to do 250 laps around Richmond, you've got to be extremely fit. I just wasn't strong enough.
But that was in June. Obviously a few months have gone by now, and I've gotten stronger and stronger. You know, my future plan is to get in a car again sometime in November with Team Rahal Letterman and evaluate how my condition is at this moment.
Q: You've won Indianapolis. You're an IndyCar Series champion. Certainly there's nothing else to prove on the race track. Do you feel as a competitor, as a driver, there may be something to prove after the crash?
KENNY BRACK: Well, the thing is, you know, I hadn't planned to stop racing at this point. I had planned a few more years to be active as a driver because I feel I'm very competitive still. I've been running up front in races, won races a lot in the past, and I still feel that I have race wins in me. Obviously, I want to continue.
At the same time I'm not going to force the issue unless I feel that I am ready and can be competitive. That's what we're trying to evaluate. That's what I'm trying to learn from these tests. It's easy to sit from the sidelines and say, "Yeah, I'm ready, I can go in a car." But you've got to put yourself in the environment and take the decision with that fresh in mind because that's what you're going to be up against when you go into the competition. You're up against guys that are extremely fit and fully committed to do good results, so you're going to have to be on the same level as other competitors to be competitive, basically.
Q: Are you in Sweden now?
KENNY BRACK: No, I'm in the United States.
Q: When you actually saw the video, what did you think? I know when we saw it, I was actually there at the race, it was horrifying to look at.
KENNY BRACK: When I saw it, obviously some time had gone by, and we all knew the results of it. In one way, I think it's worse looking at somebody else's accident, because I was in the car, had gone through all the stuff afterwards. I kind of knew how it was to deal with.
I think it was an extremely violent crash, of course, one of the worst that I've ever seen actually. But at the same time it felt OK to me because I knew the result. Didn't really think much more of that, more than it was a very violent crash.
Q: You said you're still feeling some of the effects of it. Can you describe what they are?
KENNY BRACK: Yeah, I broke both ankles. One of them was crushed. That ankle is very -- sometimes it's stiff. Sometimes if I get a little cold or something or beginnings of a head cold or something, then I can feel that joint really stiffening up.
But all in all, I mean, I'm in pretty good shape I would say. But small things like that I can still feel and I probably always will, to be honest with you. I don't think after breaking that many bones you're going to go completely back to normal and not feel a thing from it.
But all in all, I think I'm very, very fortunate to have come to this position right now where I can do all the things that I did before and I don't think about, you know, anything. I'm back to normal in a normal day-to-day life basically.
Q: What have you been missing most not being able to compete for the last year?
KENNY BRACK: Well, I miss the competition part of it, you know, to try to work with the team and make the team and the car as good as possible and make the race results and hopefully get wins and stuff like that. That's what I miss the most.
You can always perhaps think that not being able to drive, you're going to be a little restless. But, to be honest, I don't know what happened with my time because it seems to have been filled up with a lot of other things. So I'm as busy as I've ever been, but just on different things.
But, yeah, I missed driving the car and to be in that environment, of course, to be competitive.
Q: If everything goes well in November when you're doing your test at the racetrack, what kind of time schedule do you see yourself? Will you be ready in the beginning of next season?
KENNY BRACK: That's a little early to say. I would like to see. I'll do the test. Depending on what the feelings are after the test, that will be the future from there, I think. And that probably will take a little while to decide. Then, obviously there is obviously a lot of stuff that is in conjunction with the comeback. You know, you got to be able to get in a car, to have a team and a car and everything, all that stuff around it.
But the first stage is to test and to see whether I can and want to come back and give 100 percent what it takes to be competitive. That's the first thing.
Q: About the question of a team and a car, is that really a question?
KENNY BRACK: Well, next year is up in the air for me, obviously at this point. Obviously, Team Rahal has been behind me all the way. My hope is to find a solution for the future with them if the test goes well, so I can be driving and be competitive. But there are those questions that remain to be answered in due course.
It is no point dealing with those questions until you know whether you can and want to go into this type of competition again.
Q: I know Bobby (Rahal) seems to have plans to run Danica Patrick next year. Whether or not there will be cars available, if you were 100 percent and wanted to do it, is it possible that you could run for another team next year if you felt physically capable of driving?
KENNY BRACK: I guess that's possible. But, obviously, like I touched on a little earlier, I think that the team has been extremely loyal to me during this difficult period. Everybody on Team Rahal Letterman has been extremely supportive, from Bobby, David Letterman, Scott Roembke and all the engineers and mechanics and all the other stuff.
I would, of course, prefer to find a solution if things go well to be their driver for the next year, too, as was planned from the beginning when we did this latest cooperation with each other. But that remains to be seen. I don't have any answers on that yet. It's not something that I am spending too much time thinking about at this point because I want to make sure that I am ready for this type of competition, and I feel 100 percent for doing this and am willing to put in the effort it takes to be competitive. That's the first thing I need to answer, and then I will worry about the other stuff later.
Q: Do you think you'll have any odd feelings being back at Texas? You didn't come to the June event. Do you think it will be a little bit strange when you get here and see the track and those things kind of come back to you?
KENNY BRACK: No. I love Texas. I lived there for two years (laughter). The reason I didn't go to the June race was that I wasn't really needed there from a team standpoint at that time. I had some other plans to take care of, so that's why I didn't go. I haven't gone to all the races this year, although I've been to the majority of them, helping out with various stuff.
I don't have any strange or adverse, negative feelings about anything. I still love Texas. I have many friends there. I'm going to go and see all the doctors and nurses and stuff that rebuilt me in Parkland Hospital on Friday. I'm looking very much forward to that. The last time I saw them, I was a little hazy, so I can't really remember that much.
I'm looking forward to all this. It's going to be a fun thing to see all the friends down there and go to the track again. At the end, the guys on the track have been very supportive of me always. I look forward to it.
Continued in part 2