Steven Cole Smith
Steven Cole Smith Contributor
2/13/18 3:28 p.m.

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Not many of us have the opportunity to watch ourselves nearly die, but Memo Gidley does. And he has. He’s seen the video–from the side, from above, from the rear–of his number 99 Gainsco Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype slamming into the rear of an inexplicably stationary Ferrari at maybe 130 mph. The Ferrari skittered off into an Armco barrier, but Gidley’s car remained on the track, just past where the crash occurred. There was a fire, but it went out, and was the least of Gidley’s problems.

The race–the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, the first event for the newly minted IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship–was red-flagged, and day had literally turned to night by the time racing resumed. We were told Gidley was alive, but that’s usually what they say when a driver is killed, so they can gather the family at the hospital and conduct a proper and private death notification, as they did with Dale Earnhardt. But Gidley really was alive, though his injuries were extensive.

If you don’t recall the crash, you’re likely searching YouTube now, where you’ll have no trouble finding it. Just don’t confuse it with Gidley’s crash in 2001 at the CART Motorola 220 at Road America, when he pancaked the Chip Ganassi Racing Target car into the concrete bridge abutment and flipped upside down, remaining that way seemingly forever until rescue crews arrived to cut the car in half so they could remove what many of us figured was Gidley’s body. But he was alive and surprisingly well, with the worst of his injuries a broken arm. How often can you cheat death after what was, from all appearances, a potentially unsurvivable accident? Gidley is at least two for two.

But his crash at Daytona looked, and was, far worse than the CART crash at Road America, despite the in-car footage that shows Gidley’s arms flailing as the car flipped and landed wheels-up shortly before the camera mercifully stopped recording.

With 92 laps and three hours to go in the 2014 Rolex, it was clear that this was the Gainsco Red Dragon’s year, with the team qualifying on the pole and leading handily. The car was well sorted; the driver lineup–Gidley, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Darren Law-seasoned and able.

Gidley was leading handily, carving through lapped traffic when he negotiated the right-turn hairpin–that’s the International Horsehoe–then gassed it up the short straight. He came up behind the number 65 Ferrari 458 Italia GT Daytona car, and jogged left to pass it.

And that’s where Memo Gidley met 29-year-old Matteo Malucelli, who was driving the number 62 Risi Ferrari 458 Italia. Malucelli was sharing the car with Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Olivier Beretta.

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DjGreggieP Reader
2/13/18 5:02 p.m.

I can only aspire to be so determined to get back to on track after a serious accident. 

aussiesmg MegaDork
2/13/18 5:39 p.m.

I was standing 200 feet from the point of impact and watched it all unravel in horrific slow motion. i doubt he ever saw the stalled Ferrari, Gidley ducked out from behind another slower car to pass and the stationary vehicle was just there.

Will UltraDork
2/13/18 6:02 p.m.

Much respect to Gidley, Zanardi, Ernie Irvan, and other racers who had the will to come back from such awful crashes and strap themselves back into a racecar.

2/14/18 8:39 a.m.

he is a Racer, to the highest order.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
2/14/18 9:29 a.m.

Memo is also a heck of a nice guy.  He called the office the other day (to thank SCS for the story) and I was lucky enough to answer the phone.   He's certainly one of the "good guys" in our sport!    And once again Steven Cole Smith nails it!   I just love this line.........

"From the vantage point Gidley had, no driver in the world, except perhaps for Vin Diesel, could have avoided Malucelli."   



AaronBalto Reader
2/14/18 10:30 a.m.

Wow. I am really impressed with this. I was in a testing crash at Summit Point in 2000 and broke my neck and left arm. While I, too, was able to return the scene of the crime, the corner where I managed to run out of talent haunts me on every lap. I wince at that corner in iRacing! The idea that Gidley was able to ignore it and drive speaks to the difference between a true professional and a piker like me.

Devilsolsi Reader
2/14/18 11:19 a.m.

I remember watching it happen on TV. I didn't think there was any way someone could survive that. Great to see him getting back in the car.


If you guys haven't already, listen to his Dinner with Racers podcast. It is really good.

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