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Rescue workers remove Memo Gidley, center, from his Corvette DP after he was involved in a crash during the IMSA Series Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/David Graham)
Racing: Gidley needs back surgery after Daytona crash
First Published Jan 26 2014 11:53 am • Last Updated Jan 26 2014 11:31 pm

Daytona Beach, Fla. • Memo Gidley has a broken back that will require surgery after a terrifying accident early in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Gidley’s GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team said Sunday the 40-year-old driver will remain at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach until doctors repair an "unstable fracture" in his back. Gidley had surgery on his left arm and leg late Saturday.

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"As you can imagine, we are devastated about what happened on track, but are hopeful that our friend and teammate Memo will make a full recovery," team owner Bob Stallings said Sunday. "Memo is receiving excellent care from the staff and doctors at Halifax Health."

Matteo Malucelli also was involved in the two-car crash Saturday near the three-hour mark of the prestigious endurance race. Malucelli continues "to rest comfortably" at Halifax. His team plans to update his status later Sunday.

Gidley was driving the pole-winning car into an infield kink and facing directly into the setting sun when the crash occurred. As Gidley tried to pass a slower car, he pulled to the left and didn’t see Malucelli off the pace. He drove directly into Malucelli’s Ferrari at nearly full speed.

Gidley had to be cut out of the No. 99 Corvette, which crumpled like an accordion upon impact.

"That was one scary crash that could have had a much worse outcome," teammate Alex Gurney said. "We were able to see him and speak with him this morning. He is one tough guy, and he’s going to pull through this. I told him to take the rest of the day off."

Gurney and fellow teammates Jon Fogarty and Darren Law visited Gidley in the hospital Sunday morning.

"It’s great to see that he’s in good spirits," Fogarty said. "His positive attitude and physical fitness will be a huge asset in his recovery."

Gidley, who was born in Mexico and has dual citizenship, is an experienced sports car driver. He was involved in a scary crash in a CART race in 2001 while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. His car went off course and struck a concrete bridge abutment. Gidley broke an arm.

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In 2005, he raced to victory with Michael McDowell in the 2005 Grand-Am finale in Mexico City. In 2007, he raced with Max Angelelli for the SunTrust team.

Malucelli finished eighth in last year’s ALMS GT championship with the Risi Competizone team. In 2008 and 2009, Malucelli was part of a team that finished second in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Gurney and Fogarty race the car full time in the United SportsCar Championship. Law and Gidley also were in the driver rotation for the twice-around-the-clock event.

"I am happy that my friend Memo will make a full recovery," Law said. "It was a hard hit, and it is a testament to safety of the car, our team that built it, and the safety advances of the series that he was able to come of out of it like he did."

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