IRL: Jason Priestley medical update 2002-08-13

Actor and race car driver Jason Priestley continues to improve following a race car accident on August 11th. Priestley was involved in an accident during a practice session for the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, ...

IRL: Jason Priestley medical update 2002-08-13

Actor and race car driver Jason Priestley continues to improve following a race car accident on August 11th. Priestley was involved in an accident during a practice session for the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY.

Priestley sustained a moderate concussion as well as a fracture of his ninth thoracic vertebra. In addition to a contusion around his left eye, Priestley has lacerations on the bridge of his nose and the left cheek, neck lacerations, and fractures in both feet. He was transferred today from the University of Kentucky Hospital to a hospital in Indianapolis.

He was initially placed on a ventilator until his condition was stabilized and his evaluation was complete. The ventilator was removed as soon as he could resume breathing on his own yesterday afternoon. It is expected he will require a few days to recover from the concussion before surgical repair of his orthopedic injuries.

Today, Priestley will be fitted with a back brace to assess the stability of his thoracic vertebra fracture. His neurological condition will continue to be closely monitored. Priestley's condition is serious but stable.

Priestley has earned respect for his racing career which he began over ten years ago. He started racing in the rally and sports-car divisions. He earned his first victory in 1998 in the Motorola Cup Street Stock Championship. Priestley finished second at the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series season-opener at Kansas Speedway, he qualified second for Sunday's race and is seventh in the series standings despite missing the race. The Infiniti Pro Series is a developmental series for the Indy Racing League. He also was a commentator for ABC Sports' Indy Racing League broadcast team last year. For more information on his racing career, please go to www.kelleyracing.com.

Jim Freudenberg, General Manager of Kelley Racing for whom Priestley is a driver, commented that, "In speaking with our Kelley Racing IRL drivers, the track conditions were not the best. It was very slippery all the way around and despite the best efforts of the safety crew to clean up oil from a competitor's fluid leak, the IRL practice that immediately followed Jason's session had everyone complaining about the slick surface.

"Jason has been determined to be the best racer he can possibly be. His dedication to his driving has been demonstrated to us all by his absolute commitment to his physical and mental fitness routine putting him unquestionably in the best condition of his life. There is no doubt that his physical stamina, coupled with the absolute best available driver safety equipment he utilized every time he climbed in the car, probably saved his life.

"Many of his fellow drivers have spoken about how they respect his driving abilities and they are not afraid to run wheel to wheel with Jason in testing and races. It was a racing incident that happens to the best racers in the world and is an unfortunate part of the sport."

"The track was terribly slick all the way around," explained Priestley's Kelley Racing teammate Tony Renna. " At the speeds we were going, it is a miracle there were not more accidents in both the Infiniti and IRL practice sessions. There was nothing that made one corner more or less slippery than any of the other three. It could have happened to any of us at any time."

Priestley's father and sister are with him. They are grateful for all the support and kind wishes they have received on Jason's behalf and are feeling very positive about his recovery. They would also like to give a special thanks to the University of Kentucky Hospital for their expertise, professionalism and kindness and to the IRL Safety and Medical Crew for their prompt action and their excellent care.

Priestley is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Brandon Walsh on the hit Fox television series "Beverly Hills 90210" for eight seasons, a role for which he earned two Golden Globe nominations. He also directed numerous episodes of the show as well as television movies and the successful documentary "Bare Naked in America." Some of his feature film starring credits include: "Love and Death on Long Island," "Eye of the Beholder," and "Calendar Girl." Most recently, he starred in the VH-1 movie "Warning: Parental Advisory" and the feature film "Cherish." He recently completed the independent films "Cover Story" and "Die! Mommie! Die!" The accident has not effected any of his acting work as he is between projects.

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