Fittipaldi Cleared and Set to Race in Mid Ohio
The sight of a young man walking down the pitlane with a cane may not exactly be the most confidence inspiring vision for an Indycar team to behold, but for Dale Coyne Racing and the #19 Paysafe Chevrolet, it's a breath of Brazilian fresh air.
Because that young man with a cane is Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of F1 and Indycar legend Emerson Fittipaldi. And he is ready to get back into a race car.
Fittipaldi was one of Indycar's budding prospects heading into the 2018 season. At 22, he represents the newest wave of international talent to make it into Indycar and his team owner, Dale Coyne had high hopes for the young Brazilian, offering him a part time drive, that was meant to include an outing at the Indianapolis 500.
All of that came to an end in May, however, when Fittipaldi crashed his Dragonspeed LMP1 challenger hard into the barriers of Spa-Francorchamps infamous Eau Rouge corner, fracturing both legs in the process.
Distraught, Fittipaldi set about focusing on rehabilitation efforts, in an attempt to be back on the Indycar grid in 2018. And now, with Mid-Ohio on the horizon, Fittipaldi is back. And ready to fight.
"The cane makes me feel like an old man," he told reporters at Indystar. "But in the car, I feel great, and to me, that’s all that matters."
"The first time I got out of the pits and was on track, I was so happy to be back," Fittpaldi continued. "It's been two months, and there's that mental barrier. And you keep thinking, 'When can I get back?' Working everyday and going through that painful physical therapy, to be finally back doing what I love, it was just amazing. There's no fear there. I'm just happy to be back and I can't wait to show what I can do at Mid-Ohio."
Indeed, Fittipaldi thought of little else other than getting back during his rehab, actually renting a trailer at IMS during May so as to continue to work himself back to health while still being close to the action on track.
His trainer Alex Wanee was suitably impressed with Fittipaldi as well, saying, ""There was no negativity. He was all about, 'How can I get back in car as fast as possible?' Within five minutes of working with the kid, I knew he was going to surpass everyone’s expectations and recover way ahead of the timeline."
"He was doing every little thing he could do to get himself prepared for this coming weekend," Wanee continued. "Our attitude from Day 1 was that while his legs won’t be back to 100 percent, the rest of him was going to be in the best racing condition of his life."
Fittipaldi is officially back this weekend at Mid-Ohio. Dale Coyne has yet to announce just how many more races he will run for the outfit in the remainder of 2018.