Three years and five months after his horrific accident at the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Memo Gidley has returned to the wheel of a race car, having tested the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Gidley, who spent months in the hospital and in rehab after sustaining multiple fractures to his back, knee, heels and other injuries, was invited by team owner Bob Stallings to test their Pirelli World Challenge car this week at Sonoma Raceway.
It marked the next step in Gidley’s goal of returning to racing.
“It felt awesome,” he said. “It felt so natural, it’s just such a comfortable environment for me. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and this was my goal.
“There were a lot of days where it wasn’t going well, but I just kept imagining getting back out on the track, getting back behind the wheel. I just wanted to be a driver looking for a ride, and now I am…I am back!”
Team owner Bob Stallings, who was by Gidley’s side in the hospital following his accident in the team’s Corvette DP, said it was “a great day” for both he and the team to see the Californian get back behind the wheel.
“His indomitable human spirit is amazing and an inspiration,” Stallings said. “He has come back from very difficult circumstances to do what his heart aches for…Racing!”
Gidley completed close to the distance of a 50-minute PWC Sprint race in the test, with team engineer John Ward impressed with his laps, especially considering his limited Porsche race experience.
“He jumped right in and went out on a pretty green track and within just a couple of laps he was turning competitive lap times and giving great technical feedback, just as he always has,” Ward said.
No race plans have been determined for Gidley at this time, with the team having already confirmed Wolf Henzler as Jon Fogarty’s co-driver for the two SprintX races the team will take part in this year.