Steve Fried is lucky to be alive. His recovery from a pit-road accident at the Indianapolis 500 astonishes IRL driver Robby McGehee.
''Every day when we get reports and talk to him it continues to surprise us all,'' McGehee said.
Fried, crew chief for McGehee and the Energizer Motorsports team, was critically injured when a car in the pit hit him during the May 30 race. He was thrown into the air and fell face first on the concrete.
Fried broke his skull, right eye socket, jaw, left shoulder, several ribs, and bones in his ears. He also injured his brain, and his lungs collapsed.
Medical workers said Fried was not breathing when they reached him and his heart stopped en route to the hospital. He was released last Sunday.
''To have seen him lying there on pit lane, and knowing how bad he was hurt, it is unbelievable to me that he has been released,'' team leader David Conti said.
Fried has begun physical therapy, focusing on regaining strength and balance, a result of inner-ear fractures. He's on a liquid diet because of his broken jaw.
''The last meal he had was the team dinner at a steakhouse the night before the race,'' his wife, Jennifer, said. ''I think he has relived that steak and lobster about 100 times in his mind.''
Fried hopes to return to work later in the Indy Racing League season.
''We miss him, and I can't wait until he's back strapping me into that car,'' said McGehee, the Indy rookie of the year who gave his trophy to Fried.
ALOHA CART: Mauricio Gugelmin is the first Champ Car driver to turn hot laps in Hawaii.
The Brazilian was invited by CART and Hawaiian Super Prix officials to take a spin in one of his PacWest Reynard-Mercedes on a modified version of the 1.67-mile temporary track being built at Kalaeloa Airport on Oahu.
CART will hold an all-star race there on Nov. 14.
Gugelmin got his car up to 190 mph in the test last Saturday.
''I'm very satisfied with the surface, particularly in terms of how smooth it is,'' he said. ''It's even smoother than some of our permanent road courses. The circuit is also quite wide in places, which allows people to be fairly creative in their driving lines.
''Normally, there is good passing when the drivers spend a lot of time under braking.''
The $10 million race will pay a motorsports record $5 million to the winner of the invitational, which will feature the top 12 drivers from the CART series standings as well as four others selected by promoters.
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