“My recommendation is you don’t get back on the bike for a few weeks”
Those were the words that echoed from the doctor’s mouth as he spoke to my good friend Greg at the hospital where Greg had arrived a short time ago via an air ambulance affectionately known in the Southern Wisconsin area as MEDflight. While racing his CR250 at Aztalan Raceway in Lake Mills Wisconsin, Greg had misjudged his approach to a nasty tabletop to step down that sent riders plummeting down the equivalent to what seemed like forever, but was actually about 30 feet. He subsequently over jumped it to flat much like Honda factory rider Doug Henry had done at Budds Creek Maryland. The landing and brutal dismount rendered Greg unconscious for some time and when he awoke, unaware of his surroundings and what had happened, he began to fight with EMT’s which they took as possible head trauma. So, off to University Hospital via the sky.
After receiving attention by some of the finest doctor’s in the Midwest, Greg was found to have rung his bell quite well and had a mild concussion to accompany all the bruises and swelling that are part of any motorcrossers daily grind.
“That guy doesn’t know me very well”
I can still hear Greg muttering those words just weeks later as we loaded the truck for our regular trip to the Friday night stadium races at the now defunct Lake Geneva Raceway (RIP). The truck ran out of gas on the way to the track and we should have taken that to be a sign that maybe we needed to turn around and unload. Not Greg.
A few short hours later, I knelt over Greg’s motionless body as he lay in the entrance to turn one after pulling the hole shot, high siding into the turn and subsequently being “wheelchocked” in the back of the neck by another rider. Greg’s neck was broken.
Everything moved in slow motion. I don’t remember running across the track, or where I threw my pit board, or how many people I knocked down or shouted at in the chaos. But in the back of my head I knew that it didn’t matter what transpired outside of Greg’s mind, because this is what guys like Greg that bleed unleaded and sweat chain lube do. Insert cheesy Bon Jovi song “Blaze of Glory” here
Back to the hospital, but via a hurried ambulance trip this time due to poor timing and some bad judgment. Greg asked for gum and that we take off his boots while waiting so the doc’s didn’t cut them off. “They’re new!” he exclaimed. Classic.
Another doctor said that after successful surgery to repair Greg’s broken cranial swivel, he was lucky and it would be a long road to recovery so we should all go home and sleep while he was recovering in post-op.
The next day after a short restless sleep we beat feet back to University Hospital and my jaw hit the floor when we entered Greg’s room to find him standing and looking out the window like a big pasty white Midwestern Frankenstein in his elegant hospital robe and wanting to hear the whole story in great detail and wondering if we had video of the incident.
After this scare we pretty much thought that it was time to hang up the motocross boots and move on in our lives. It didn’t take us long to sort out our own feelings about what happened and before we knew it we were all crammed into a Winnebago and headed to Grattan MI to get our road racing licenses, but that’s another story all together.
Bikers go down sometimes, but real one’s always come back for more