Memo Gidley will make his racing return in next month’s Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Sonoma Raceway, having been confirmed in TKO Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R for the pair of 50-minute Sprint races.
It will mark Gidley’s first professional race since sustaining serious injuries in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, which resulted in nine surgeries and three years of rehabilitation.
“I have been waiting a long time for this announcement,” said Gidley. “It was a long rehab process but I always wanted to get back into the race car and my friends at TKO Motorsports have given me this opportunity. And I am extremely grateful for this chance in the Pirelli World Challenge.”
Gidley worked through his final back surgery in November 2015 and was cleared to return to racing activities one year later, where he returned to the karting track, seeking his next racing opportunity.
“I want to give Dave Traitel and all of the TKO Motorsports team a big thank you for this opportunity to race at Sonoma Raceway in the big Pirelli World Challenge/IndyCar weekend,” he said. “They have worked hard to prepare a Porsche 911 GT3 R for me to compete in one of the best GT sports car series in the world. And I can’t wait to race again.”
Gidley’s comeback is one of spirit and determination that he questioned at times.
With titanium rods and screws in several parts of his body, Gidley fought through nerve pain, scar tissue and various rehab processes with included therapeutic pools, physical therapy and long walks.
“The nerve pain was the worst at times,” he said. “It was difficult to deal with as I continued the rehab. I couldn’t even take the bumps on the city streets in the passenger car. But, eventually, that pain went away.
“Now, I can’t bend down and touch my toes with the fusion in the back. But I was able to continue my training and even karting regularly.”
Gidley returned to the wheel of a GT car in May, in the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Porshce, at the invite of his former team owner, while having completed numerous tests since with TKO, including taking part in the Promoter Test Day at Utah Motorsports Campus last week in TKO’s Porsche.
“It just felt great to be back in the racing paddock with a team,” he said. “I saw so many old friends and racers and they were so nice to me and the team.
“Actually, we didn’t get as many laps in testing as we would have liked. But we talked to the PWC officials and other teams to get an idea of the Sonoma races.
“TKO Motorsports is a growing company but it has not raced in sports cars previously. So, Dave and the crew were gathering a lot of information for the future.”