Drivers hospitalized after wreck in Rolex 24
January 26, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
Wreck leads to first red flag since 2004; drivers under observation at area hospital
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A high-speed collision between the pole-sitting No. 99 GAINSCO Racing prototype and a GT-class Ferrari about three hours into the Rolex 24 at Daytona brought out the first red flag in the race since 2004.
It took several minutes for rescue workers to extricate Memo Gidley from the No. 99 Bob Stallings Chevrolet Corvette, which suffered massive front end damage. He and Matteo Malucelli, driver of the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458, were transported to an area hospital.
IMSA released a statement later Friday evening saying both Gidley and Malucelli were admitted to the hospital and were "awake and communicating."
IMSA officials released a statement early Sunday morning saying that Gidley had surgery on his left arm and left leg overnight and has an "unstable fracture in his back" which will require additional surgery before he can be released.
Malucelli also remained hospitalized Sunday for further evaluation. A further update on his condition will be given later Sunday.
"The biggest concern is that Memo is OK," Gidley's co-driver Darren Law said shortly after the accident. "Obviously, they haven't given us a lot of indication of what's going on other than they are taking him to the hospital and skipping the infield care center.
"I really don't know what happened; I looked up at TV and saw the crash."
While preparing to exit the infield road course portion of the 3.56-mile course and transition to the high banks, Gidley ran directly into the back of Malucelli's car. Gidley was in sixth place overall at the time of the accident.
"Conditions were really really hard," Christian Fittipaldi said. "The sun was setting and basically there were two points on track you couldn't see anything, one was the start-finish line and the other was coming out of the kink. He probably couldn't see anything at all and just nailed the car in front of him.
"I'm 200 percent sure that's what happened to Memo. I hope he is well because when I went by it seemed to be a pretty big one."
Team owner Bob Stallings and lead driver Alex Gurney left the pits at Daytona International Speedway to head to the hospital.
This was the same car that six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson co-drove in the Rolex 24 from 2008-2011, and the champ offered "thoughts and prayers to Memo Gidley and my Gainsco Racing family" via Twitter.
The race was back underway after nearly a 90-minute delay.