Talladega: Jack Roush comments on past year, Part I

JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - Roush Racing Tauruses: At the Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning, Roush commented on one-year anniversary of his plane crash April 19, 2002. Part 1 of 2 HOW HAS YOUR PERSPECTIVE CHANGED SINCE THE ...

JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - Roush Racing Tauruses:

At the Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning, Roush commented on one-year anniversary of his plane crash April 19, 2002.

Part 1 of 2

HOW HAS YOUR PERSPECTIVE CHANGED SINCE THE ACCIDENT?

"It's been a great year. I feel like I'm coming up on my first birthday in my second life. I don't believe in reincarnation, however, in anything but the biblical way and I look forward to having a reunion sometime with my God and to be able to be with some people that have preceded me.

Jack Roush.
Photo by Richard Sloop.
"Having said that, the year has been really, really interesting. I've almost certainly paid more attention to myself and to things going on around me than I did in the preceding decade, for sure, as I was in the fray - so much conflict and so much competition in all the business ways and in the racing as well. I guess I look at everyday when I get up in the morning and I say, 'I've got another extra day,' and that has probably been the change in my perspective to just look at having more time."

Note: The following section is being re-printed from the NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference on March 25. This story is the same one Roush recited on Saturday morning at Talladega, but in a condensed form.

"I thank God and thank Larry Hicks for giving me my extra days. It's been wonderful to have a chance to get back at this thing. Of course, the folks at the University of Alabama Medical Center and the folks at the Troy Alabama Hospital and all the police folks and the emergency folks all saved my life and got me going in a way that didn't result in neural damage or any other infections that would have slowed me down.

"I had a miraculous recovery. I come away from that with really two things in my mind. I step back and as I laid back and waited to get my leg healed so I could be mobile again in a normal fashion, I thought about whether or not I'm spending my life correctly. 'Am I doing worthwhile things? Should I be doing these things?' I thought back about the chance I've had to work with so many young people, the chance I've had to have so many business enterprises that had proven viable, even though they were untraditional.

"As I looked at all that, I said, 'You know, I just want to keep going and doing the things I'm doing as well as I can and as long as I can.' I realize the age thing will eventually catch up to me, so, with that, I committed to make everyday count as much as I had before or more and to not slow down - to go as hard as I could for as long as I could. After I spent 12 days in Alabama and was off antibiotics, I never took any discretionary pain killer, I had a walker, a wheelchair and crutches as my options.

"They checked me into the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor for physical therapy to make sure I wouldn't run over some bystander with my wheelchair or wouldn't fall on some toddler with my crutches. Anyway, they gave me seven days of that and while I was doing that I was exposed to two 24-year-old young men. Both of them were paraplegic as a result of accidents - one of them was just out of college and getting his life started and the other was just about to graduate within a couple months.

"One had a motorcycle wreck and the other had some sort of four-wheeler, recreational wreck. Their lives were dramatically altered based on their injuries. There was a young woman there, less than 30 years old. She didn't have her children yet, but she had an accident and lost both of her hands above her wrists and both of her feet below her ankles. She had four stubs and they were teaching her how to walk. She was educated, she was articulate, she had her life in front of her.

"I was 60 years old. I had celebrated a 60th birthday, I'd raised three kids, I'd had a lovely wife, I'd had just a great chance to do many things I couldn't have dreamed that would make up my life as a youngster. But if I could have given those two young men their legs back and that young woman her hands and feet, they could have left Jack in the water. I would have been just fine. Anyway, those are the things that have affected me. Except for that, I've got as much zeal for life everyday as I ever had - without any urgency but with the determination just to make it all worthwhile."

"Larry and I have had a great exchange. Dr. Moran, the fellow that told my brother at midnight on the 19th or going to the 20th of April as my birthday was ending, he told my brother, 'Get the family ready for bad news. He's probably not gonna make it through the night. It's better if he doesn't. If he comes back in two weeks, he'll be 50 percent here. If he comes back in two months, he'll be a vegetable.' I was brain dead when they brought me in. They induced a coma in Troy and the information on the medication hadn't been transferred.

"I remember being in the ambulance as they got me out of the airplane and two hours after he made that comment and he had gone to bed, I was trying to get out of bed again. That was the reason they had given me the medication in Troy. They had a tube in every orifice, I wasn't gonna take this laying down (laughing). I raised myself not to put up with that (laughing). So he spent three days with me.

"Dr. Kirkpatrick, that put my leg back together with all the hardware out of his son's erector set - screws and plates and tubes. I had both of them at the race track yesterday. Dr. Moran had a birthday party with he and his brother and his wife and his three children at his house last night.

"You've got to be careful when you're really small. It doesn't mean anything to us, but when I was 8 years old I wrote my name in a library book that they had given me at school. It was something about personal safety and health. He found that book on e-bay that had my name in it and it was just right because it was about being careful and not hurting yourself. It was obvious that, even though I had written my name in the book, I hadn't learned much (laughing). So, anyway, he presented that to me as a birthday gift last night.

"I've rambled a lot here and I'll stop, but my life is full of joy. I'm glad to be with all of you people under most circumstances (laughing) and I'm having a great time. Everyday is something real special, it's extra."

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO ON APRIL 19TH THIS YEAR?

"I thought about staying in bed. You know, unless a tree comes through the roof I'll be OK. I thought about the Bingo thing, but I probably couldn't get the numbers right. I am brain damaged (laughing). I am almost certain to go out and fly everything in my inventory that I can get my hands on. I've got a new J3 Cub that I just picked up from my son. Jack, Jr. has decided - in fact, what I did, right now he's not a pilot, he's a computer proficient entrepreneur. He's out there surfing the web and helping people with web pages and he operates a search engine with two of his buddies. They were making money in the computer business before it was fashionable.

"Anyway, I told him, 'Something you've got to think about is I've got nine airplanes right now. When I die, you're gonna have to think about something here because Susan is gonna get the cars and you're gonna get all these airplanes. You're gonna be faced with the prospect of selling them because you're not familiar or acclimated with them, or are you gonna be able to carry on and keep one and enjoy it.' So that got him thinking.

"I told him we would by a J3 Cub this year, which is a 1947, 500-pound, 65-horsepower basic farmer's airplane post World War II, and we'll go out and terrorize the grass strips - the ones that don't have wires around them - and he's agreed to that. So there's a J3 Cub, there's a Mustang, there's a T6 for sure that I will fly that day from sun up to sun down, if it doesn't rain like it's raining today."

Part II

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jack Roush