Englewood Cliffs, N.J.; April 21, 1998: Mattco Raceworks driver Chris Simmons is resting comfortably at his parents' home in East Granby, Conn., following his discharge from Easton Hospital in Nazareth, Pa., Monday afternoon. Simmons was ...
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.; April 21, 1998: Mattco Raceworks driver Chris Simmons is resting comfortably at his parents' home in East Granby, Conn., following his discharge from Easton Hospital in Nazareth, Pa., Monday afternoon. Simmons was hospitalized o n April 18 after crashing his No. 78 Alco Capital Group/Nassi Group Lola in turn four at Nazareth Speedway during an Indy Lights test session in preparation for the upcoming race at the track on Sunday, April 26.
Simmons is suffering from a severe neck strain and a bruised shoulder. The full extent of his neck injuries will not be known until further evaluation this week, but tests at Easton Hospital ruled out a suspected fractured vertebrae.
"I'm feeling a little better each day," said Simmons, "I'm walking around easily, and there is no loss of feeling or strength. I'm still pretty sore on my left shoulder and my neck and back are bruised. I'm just looking forward to finding out what the prognosis is and getting better as soon as possible. Best case scenario is a major sprain and it'll take about two weeks, worst case is surgery, if the ligaments have been torn away, and I could be out three to four months."
"I'm going stir-crazy at home already," added Simmons, who has been an active, key member of the day-to-day operation of the Mattco Raceworks shop, "so I really hope to be back soon."
Although still in considerable pain, Simmons was feeling well enough to stop by the Mattco Raceworks shop in New Jersey on his way back to Connecticut on Monday, and even offered some set-up advice for teammate Tony Renna, a series rookie. Renna's best time in the two-day test on the one-mile oval was 22.2 seconds, just shy of the qualifying record of 22.0 set by Claude Bourbonnais in 1996.
"We were very happy and somewhat surprised to see Chris," said team owner Matt Cohen. "He's tough. I know if most people had taken a hard hit like that they'd be lying around moaning for a long time, but not Chris. In fact, I think he even spent some time with the engineers discussing some ideas on set-up that may help Tony out next weekend. Even though he won't be racing himself, he wants to help the team do the best job it can. We knew Chris was a great person and a real team player when we hired him, and the fact that he's thinking about the team under these circumstances is proof o f that. We look forward to having him back in his car as soon as possible."
The team has not yet finalized plans for a replacement driver for the Nazareth race.