IRL: Team Rahal teleconference, part 3

Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript January 13, 2004 Bobby Rahal, Scott Roembke, Buddy Rice, Kenny Brack Part 3 of 3 Q: Is your rehab almost like you would fine tune a car or set a car up? In other words, is that how you...

Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
January 13, 2004

Bobby Rahal, Scott Roembke, Buddy Rice, Kenny Brack

Part 3 of 3

Q: Is your rehab almost like you would fine tune a car or set a car up? In other words, is that how you look at it and push yourself? I've done rehab. It's painful.

KENNY BRACK: Right now my rehab is, first of all, stretching to get all the muscles back, you know, in shape so that they're the right length and stuff like that. If you've been in a situation like this, you know. But people that haven't, you'd be amazed to see how fast muscles deteriorate and how fast the body deteriorates when you're lying in a bed for like six, seven weeks. So part of the rehab is stretching. Part of the rehab is weight training. Part of the rehab is fitness training, like water therapy and stuff like that.

Q: Have you talked to anybody like Rick Mears, who went through a lot of the same rehab on his ankles, feet, to see how they progressed?

KENNY BRACK: Well, I talked to a lot of drivers, both present and past ones, active ones, but not really in a way for rehabbing and stuff like that. I kind of looked at it as I'm going to push myself as much as I can every day. That's all I can do. I don't know if anybody else's rehab schedule would help me or mine help any other person, for that matter, because I think it's pretty individual how you heal and what you do, how you push yourself and so forth. It's a day-by-day sort of schedule right now, you know.

Q: Has the way Alex Zanardi has come back inspired you, inspired other drivers?

KENNY BRACK: I think Alex, obviously, is a fantastic personality. He's surely done a tremendous recovery. And it's great to see that people do that. I think for myself, yeah, I mean, I'm happy for him and I'm happy that he did that. I think every driver that gets in an awkward position somewhere, most of them I think will dig and find that strength that make them sort of try to come back in one way or another and do the best of the situation For myself, I can say that during this whole process, there's not been anything but positive thoughts in my head about healing and trying to make a comeback into racing and stuff like that. I think through all the pain and through all the operations and all that stuff and everything, I think it just helps you, you know, go through all that in the best possible way.

Q: Kenny, you know first-hand the safety of the IRL cars, safety of racing in the oval series. There was a lot of talk last year about whether or not the cars were safe, whether it was too dangerous for oval-track racing. Give me some reaction about all of this. I would think that you know better than anybody else how safe or unsafe the cars are.

KENNY BRACK: Well, I first of all got to just clarify. Oval racing, it's the most dangerous form of motorsport there is because of the speeds and the lack of run-off areas and stuff like that. So that's something that we have to deal with every lap we run and all that stuff. But, you know, I would say that the cars have been developed and are very safe. You know, if you can do a crash like I did in Texas and several other drivers have done during the years, stuff like that last year, OK, maybe you get a little injured or whatever, but you still walk away with everything intact, so to speak, possible to come back to a normal life and a career in racing and stuff like that. You got to say that the cars are safe. But the fact is that the speeds are extremely high, and there are no run-off areas. There are only ovals on the schedule, so you sort of expose yourself for that kind of risk every second you're driving. It's difficult to make it foolproof. I don't think it's possible to make anything foolproof, quite frankly.

Q: I kind of know the answer to this, but maybe not. When you were in the hospital recovering, is there anything inside of you that said, "Maybe this is the end of my career and I need to think about perhaps doing something else?"

KENNY BRACK: I haven't really thought any thoughts like that. My focus has been to basically learn about my injuries and talk to the doctors and get their opinion about how it's going to heal and how long it's going to take and so forth. You know, after having done that, I think everybody that's worked on me has been on the opinion that, yeah, the injuries are serious, but they will heal, and it will take somewhere between five to six months from the accident date. You know, I never have been in a position like this, so obviously I can't say if that's going to be five or six months or if it's going to be three months or 12 months. But for now I believe the doctors and I'm keep working hard at making a comeback. Sure it hurts. It has hurt a lot and so forth. But like the last three weeks I've been home I've been seeing a tremendous recovery as well. Started rehabbing, stuff like that; I'm up all day, walking around on the crutches, stuff like that, got rid of all the braces. It is getting better pretty fast at the moment.

Q: Would sports cars be an option if you came back, maybe there was too much danger in having your feet dangling out there like they are in open-wheel?

KENNY BRACK: The thing is that I want to be 100 percent if I'm going to get behind the wheel. If I feel that I don't have 100 percent of the qualities I need to drive in a particular series, there is no point for me getting in a car just to ride around. Now, if there's other racing series out there that may be lesser in physical strain or goes slower so you don't have to have all the reaction maybe, whatever, would I be interested in that? Perhaps. But that's not something I really have given much thought to at this point because at this point I'm 100 percent focused on trying to make a good comeback and rehabbing.

Q: I'm not sure if you're aware that last month Texas Motor Speedway management announced they were going to do a $400,000 fence improvement program at the track in the wake of your crash. They're going to reinforce the backstretch fencing, put a fence around the infield wall, raise the backstretch fencing. Did you ever have any problems with the way safety was at TMS?

KENNY BRACK: You know, put it this way, we all agreed to race there. To come afterwards and say something about it --you should say something beforehand. I think what Texas Motor Speedway has done with the facilities and everything; it's a world-class facility, first of all. It's an impressive facility. They've always had good racing there, especially in the IndyCar Series. I think it's great news that they continue to improve the facility.

Q: Are you saying now that the Indy 500 maybe is not a realistic goal that you're going to have to push this back a little bit farther?

KENNY BRACK: I don't know that. I couldn't tell you one way or another right now. Rehab is going well. Everything is going well. But if that's a realistic goal or not, it's very difficult to say. If I would have been in this position before, maybe I could give you a hint. But I haven't. I just let everything heal in the time it needs to have to heal. It's not really a lot you can do to speed up the healing process, bones and stuff like that.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about, you have this new baby, your wife and everything, how is your family feeling about you coming back that possibility? Has there been any trepidation, I guess, of you getting back in a car?

KENNY BRACK: Well, you know, I obviously haven't -- Karma hasn't said so much quite yet, maybe because she can't talk (laughter). But anyway, I think that, you know, Anita and me, we been together for 11, 12 years, so she's always been around racing. I think we both know that it's got many great things and it's also got the risk factor. I think that she certainly didn't appreciate, of course, me getting hurt, but on the other hand she will support whatever decision I decide to make in the end. Like I say, she's been very supportive so far. She continues to be and will be. I don't think those factors will factor in on the decision. The decision will be based upon, you know, my physical condition basically, if I get 100 percent recovery and so forth.

Q: I didn't know if being a father changed anything in your eyes of being back in the car with this kind of risk.

KENNY BRACK: No, not really. I mean, you know, that's another spectrum, of course, to family life and stuff like that, no doubt. But, no, it hasn't changed my feelings for racing at all.

Q: Have you watched any coverage? Did you watch any film of your crash? Is that something that if you haven't, you don't want to see it? Can you just talk about that? Have you ever seen it?

KENNY BRACK: I have seen a lot of still pictures from it. I haven't yet seen the video. That has to do with I don't have it. Basically, I never have, you know, gone back home after a race and watched myself race, so it's not something that is a normal procedure for me. I will get the tape sometime here and look at it. It's not something that bothers me. I already know the outcome. It's not something that I would be worried about. It's just that I haven't got around to it yet.

Q: With the kind of crash that you had, with the type of racing that has gone on in the IRL, do you have any kind of thoughts about possibly lowering the speeds or doing something so the racing can still be exciting without it being dangerous and putting you in that situation that puts you into a fence?

KENNY BRACK: Well, I mean, basically when you have that close a racing, if you lower the speeds 10 miles an hour or 20 miles an hour, will it make a difference if you hit the fence? I don't know. I would think if it's 230 or 210, it's going to make a little bit of a difference. But I don't think maybe it's going to make a really, really big difference. So I think as long as you have tracks and cars that allow side-by-side racing, stuff like that, I think there's always going to be that element of risk there. You know there's a chain reaction happening to a move or something like that, cars touch what else, something happens. So I don't know really what the answer to that question is.

Q: You look back on that crash, just the kind of racing that's gone on this season, are you surprised something like that hasn't happened before?

KENNY BRACK: Well, I mean, if you look, there are incidents in every race. Somebody spins, somebody touches wheels. You know, sometimes they get away with it; sometimes you end in the fence. There's always incidents in racing competitions. I think that this time it was -- you know, it just hit in a certain way that made it really, really violent. But the car did its job. At least it protected its driver as much as it could. Although I had a lot of injuries, I still sit here today and talk. You know, it's something that's always going to be there in racing, no matter if it's IndyCar Series racing, Formula 1. The only difference I think is that oval racing is a very dangerous form of motorsport because all the high speeds and also because of the lack of run-off area. NASCAR does the same thing. They run a lot of ovals. They have incidents, too. But, fortunately, not too many have really serious injuries, but some of them do. It's the nature of the sport basically.

Q: We've all talked about your racing, how about your band?

KENNY BRACK: Yeah, well, you know, we haven't played -- well, we played at the Team Rahal Christmas party actually. We don't have that many gigs during the winter period. But we certainly couldn't afford to cancel the one we had. So we played at the Rahal Christmas party 12th of December. It's still there. We're still talking. We're doing something music and stuff, having fun with it. It's a fun side project.

Q: You said you were in the hospital yourself when Karma was born. Were you in there for another kind of situation? What was the deal on that?

KENNY BRACK: Yeah, because since I laid down for so long, I lost a lot of weight in the hospital and stuff, my gall bladder decided to call it quits. I had to go in and remove the gall bladder over Christmas and New Year's.

Q: Takes a lot of gall to drive a race car.

KENNY BRACK: I hope not because I don't have it anymore (laughter).

Q: Why Karma? Was it good Karma? Why the name Karma?

KENNY BRACK: Well, I hope it's good Karma, yeah. But, no, not really. It wasn't because of that. It was because, first of all, you know, it's finding a name you like, so we thought Karma was a nice name. Secondly, it's easy to pronounce in both English and Swedish. Thirdly, you know, she's also named Amelia Helena. If she doesn't like it when she's 19 or 20 or something, she can always change, I guess. Of course, she will be cut out of the will anyway (laughter).

Q: Are you allowed to drive with your left foot only type thing? Are you getting chauffeured around? Obviously, you're waiting for the right foot to get cleared. How limited are you getting around in that respect?

KENNY BRACK: Well, right now I've had -- since I've had Anita and my mother and father here, they've been driving me. But I can drive now really. It's not a big deal. I got mobility in the left foot. It's close to back to normal. The right foot, it's just that I can't put any weight on it. I can't really walk on it. But I walk on crutches, put down my left leg and just wait another couple, three weeks for the right foot. We're going to take another set of X-rays and then we'll see. The doctors seem to think we can start putting some weight on it in two to three weeks' time.

MODERATOR: We'd like to thank you for being on today's teleconference. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Part 1

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Alex Zanardi , Kenny Brack , Rick Mears , Buddy Rice