CHICAGO, Ill. -- Gary Longo, who was critically injured in a racing accident during the 2001 Trans Am 125 at Mosport International Raceway, will return to the famed road course this weekend for an important part of his lengthy recovery from a ...
CHICAGO, Ill. -- Gary Longo, who was critically injured in a racing accident during the 2001 Trans Am 125 at Mosport International Raceway, will return to the famed road course this weekend for an important part of his lengthy recovery from a life-threatening neck injury.
"He's looking forward to returning to Mosport, and thanking everyone who has supported him over the last year, but most importantly, he's looking forward to being a part of racing and Trans Am again," says his wife, Molly. Nerve damage to Longo's vocal cords have temporarily left him unable to speak above a whisper, so Molly often communicates for him. Doctors say he should regain his voice within two years.
But that won't keep the young couple from their goal of making new Mosport memories to replace the anxiety they sometimes feel when they recall their experiences in the Toronto area last May.
"This visit is important to him because he needs to put closure to his accident. He wants to revisit the scene and the weekend and have a different memory than the one we live by every single day," explains Molly. The Longos will attend as much of the weekend's events as possible, but their priorities are to meet with the Mosport track rescue team, the doctors and others who were instrumental in this life-saving rescue. He plans to visit with some of the drivers and Trans-Am team members he befriended during his brief 2001 season. He also wants to visit with fans who have supported him with cards, letters and prayers.
"He just wants to show everyone that he is alive," Molly says. In addition to becoming her husband's voice, Molly has become an extension of his ego since watching helplessly as he was airlifted by helicopter to Toronto a year ago. Molly left her teaching job to be a constant support by her husband's side, and is due for a little healing time herself, but she admits to some fears about the coming weekend. "I worry about how Gary will react to the situation, if it will trigger flashbacks instead of putting closure to the accident." she says. "We want the visit to be significant to us for different reasons. By returning to Mosport, we can have a more positive reminder of what happened and how we moved forward.
"I don't want Gary to feel uncomfortable. I want him to feel secure with who he is and proud of all he has accomplished. I don't want this weekend to be intimidating or to make him more sorrowful. I'm proud of him and I admire him for everything he's been through, and I want that to continue to be the motivation for him."
The Longos will spend time with the LAC Motorsports team, including Tony Ave, who will drive the team's Panoz Esperante in Sunday's 41-lap feature event. LAC Motorsports owner, Kerry Alexander launched the Gary Longo Relief Fund to help support the young couple as Gary's rehabilitation continues. More information about the fund will be available at the raceway this weekend, or contributions may be sent to: Gary Longo Relief Fund, c/o National City Bank, 9168 Otis Avenue, Indianapolis, IN. 46216, Attn: Steve Silas, Office Manager.