Veteran driver Tony Gaples was checked out and released Sunday evening at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif., following a violent crash at Sonoma Raceway Sunday in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS season finale.
Gaples, the team principal of Blackdog Speed Shop racing, suffered a huge impact in his No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R with the Turn 8 concrete barrier on Lap 19 as he battled for the lead in the GTS Am division in the scheduled 50-minute race.
The 51-year-old was able to walk from his car and was checked out at the track’s medical center. He was advised to travel in the team’s passenger vehicle to Memorial Hospital for various tests followed the spectacular incident.
Following a variety of tests by the hospital physicians, Gaples was released and actually attended the season-end awards banquet, where he celebrated with his team in winning the GTS drivers’ championship by teammate Lawson Aschenbach, the GTS Manufacturers’ title for Chevrolet and the GTS team crown.
In addition, the team was named “Crew of the Year” by its fellow competitors.
Gaples was also awarded the GTS Am class win after he was in the lead on Lap 18 as the race was red and checkered-flagged and all scoring was reverted back one lap from the time of the incident.
It was Gaples’s first GTS class victory in 186 series starts.
“That was a big impact, probably the hardest I’ve ever had in racing,” said Gaples following Sunday’s PWC banquet. “Fortunately, none of my injuries were serious – just a lot of soreness and bruises.
“It could have been worse but you see how strong of a car the Camaro GT4.R is. It was a lot to go through for my first win. Hopefully the second comes a little easier…
“After I finished at the hospital, it was great to get to be with the team for a little bit at the banquet. We achieved a lot this year in a season full of challenges and a new car.
“To do all this in Year One with the Camaro GT4.R is unbelievable. It was hard to comprehend all we achieved. Seeing all our trophies together last night was incredible… it didn’t seem real.
“What was even more gratifying was being with all the people from our Blackdog team, Chevy and Pratt & Miller. It’s about the people, and we have the best group in the paddock.”
Gaples finished second in the final GTS Am class points to class champion George Kurtz.