Memo Gidley was in one of the scariest 24 Hours of Daytona crashes ever in 2014, where Gidley hit a slowing Ferrari at speed, ripping the top off of his Daytona Prototype. But he never gave up on his dream of returning to the sport. Three and a half years later, Gidley is finally returning to racing in a Pirelli World Challenge car.
Gidley endured a total of nine surgeries and three years of rehabilitation after the 2014 crash left him with a severe cerebral concussion and broken back, along with knee, heel and elbow injuries. His recovery has been extremely difficult, with times where the pain from simply riding in a normal road car was unbearable, as Pirelli World Challenge’s press release describes in grueling detail:
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, Memo 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,” admitted Gidley. “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.”
He’s been cleared to race since November 2016, although a USA Today report from January mentioned that he still felt a dull ache near his tailbone from nerve damage then. Still, Gidley’s visit to Daytona earlier this year was the first part of his road back to racing: thanking all of the people at the 24 Hours of Daytona and staff at the nearby Halifax Medical Center for saving his life.
Now he’s back in a professional race car. Gidley will run the all-new No. 101 TKO Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R at the Sept. 15-17 Pirelli World Challenge weekend at Sonoma Raceway—close to Gidley’s California home.
Gidley told PWC that he’s spent some of his time away racing boats, but he’s glad to get back to his first love in racing—automobiles:
Hey, racing is in my blood, whether it’s on the water or the track. I’ve been racing a 35-foot sail boat recently and it is fun. But getting back in the race car is the ultimate for me. And now I get the chance at my hometown track in a world-class GT sports car. It’s the best for me.
Anyone that determined to get back in a race car definitely deserves a spot in the Jalop Hall of Fame. Welcome back, Memo, and best of luck.