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Jason Priestley Injured in Race Crash

FlyAU

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Priestley fractures spine in practice
August 11, 2002.
www.cnnsi.com

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/motorsports/news/2002/08/11/priestley_injured_ap/

lg_priestley_ap.jpg


SPARTA, Ky. (AP) -- Actor Jason Priestley crashed head-on into a wall at close to 180 mph during practice for a race Sunday and was in serious condition with a head injury and a broken back.

The former Beverly Hills 90210 television star was in serious condition at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington but was stable and responding, Indy Racing League medical director Henry Bock said.

The 32-year-old Priestley crashed coming out of the second turn in the final practice for the Kentucky 100, an Infiniti Pro Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

Priestley sustained a spinal fracture in the middle of his back and a closed head injury, as well as broken bones in both feet, IRL medical director Henry Bock said.

Bock did not elaborate on the extent on the closed head injury.

"He got sideways, and he corrected and then shot off the track," said former Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, whose son, Arie Jr., also competes in the Infiniti series. Luyendyk witnessed the crash from the roof of the press box.

"He turned right into the wall, and his first impact was basically head-on," Luyendyk said. "What I'm thinking is, that's really the one big hit that he took that might have hurt him."

Luyendyk said Priestley appeared to have driven through some "oil-dry," an absorbent material that had been spread on part of the track about 10 minutes earlier to soak up oil from a leak on a car driven by Ryan Hampton.

All the drivers had been warned not to go through the oil-dry, IRL vice president Fred Nation said.

"He was following me in the practice," driver Ed Carpenter said. "I just happened to look in my mirror as I exited [the turn], too. It looked like Jason stayed on the bottom and went through it.

"Everybody was really scared right after the crash. Nobody knew what was going on. He's shown he's a good racer. It's sad any time one of our competitors gets hurt."

Cory Witherill, who finished third, said the cars basically are designed to disintegrate on impact, to absorb much of the punishment during a crash.

"Unfortunately, it does affect the driver every now and then," Witherill said. "It's too bad it happened to Jason. He's a great guy. He brings a lot of good spirit to the series."

Priestley's best finish in three starts in the IRL developmental series was second at Kansas Speedway. He qualified second on Saturday behind series leader A.J. Foyt IV, who won Sunday's 100-mile race.

After his strong qualifying run Saturday, Priestley said confidence is a key to racing.

"With these cars, so much of it is just being able to keep your foot in it and understand that the car actually will hold the road," Priestley said. "I guess in a lot of ways most oval drivers at some time just put their faith in a higher power that they're actually going to make it around the corner."

Priestley has been racing on and off since 1991. He first competed in the California Rally Series in 1991, and later raced in the SCCA Pro Rally Series in 1992-95. He drove in the IMSA Firehawk Series and Magna Enduro Series in 1995-99, with his first victory coming at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in 1998. In 1998-99, he also drove in the Sportscar GTS1 Series.

Last year, Priestley completed an alcohol counseling program he was ordered to attend when he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge stemming from a December 1999 car crash in the Hollywood Hills. The accident totaled Priestley's Porsche and broke the arm of a friend.

Also last season, he was a broadcast analyst for the entire IRL series, and this year joined the Kelley Racing team for the new Infiniti Pro Series, a developmental circuit with open-wheel cars that are similar but smaller and less powerful than the IRL cars.

Priestley also crashed a powerboat during a race in Miami in April. A crew member cracked several ribs in the accident, but Priestley was not injured. In 1995, he crashed into a ditch during the Michelin SCCA Pro Rally in Olympia, Wash., but recovered to finish the race.

The native of British Columbia qualified Saturday at 179.064 mph on the 1.5-mile track and had a top speed of 178.122 among his eight laps of practice before the crash Sunday morning.

Priestley and fellow heartthrob Luke Perry made Beverly Hills 90210, about a group of young people growing up in Southern California, a hit for the Fox network. Perry phoned the media center Sunday afternoon to get an update on Priestley's condition.

Priestley was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and later produced and directed a number of documentaries, television dramas, cable network specials and music videos.

In addition to his television work, Priestley's film credits include Eye of the Beholder, Calendar Girl and Love and Death on Long Island.
 
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Crankcase

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Yeah that sucks....He graduated from my high school about 6 years before I went there. It was our school's "claim to fame"

Will Sasso also was in school there, but I actually was in school at the same time as him.
 
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mattadams

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yeah I heard that, hopefully he'll be ok!
 
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