Drivers taken to hospital after crash at Rolex 24 at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli were transported to the hospital after a hard crash Saturday less than three hours into the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Gidley's No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP slammed into the Ferrari driven by Malucelli 92 laps into the 24-hour race on Daytona's infield road course.

Gidley was taken directly to Halifax Health Medical Center — located about a mile from the speedway — bypassing the infield care center after rescue workers extricated him from the car. Malucelli, who did not have to be cut from the car, was also transported to Halifax.

The race was red-flagged as rescue workers tended to both drivers, placing them on stretchers then into waiting ambulances. It was the first red flag in the race since 2004, when heavy rain brought the race to a stop.

Gidley was running fourth in the race, which was about to pass the three-hour mark. He was racing down a high-speed section of the track between Turns 3 and 4, headed into the sun. Malucelli was ahead of him, reporting to his pits that he was without power and pulled over to the left.

Gidley's car started from the pole position with Alex Gurney behind the wheel. Jon Fogarty and Darren Law are the car's other drivers for the race.

The car had extensive front-end damage, and the track was littered with debris.

"These things happen in racing, but you never expect it to be your car and your team," Law said. "I don't know what's going on. I hope he's OK. I'm pretty sure we're out of the deal. I really don't know what happened. I looked up on the TV and saw we were in a crash. We're going to the hospital now."

Gidley, 40, is an experienced sports car driver who was born in Mexico but holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Mexico.

Alex Tagliani, competing in the PC class, said his thoughts were with Gidley and his family.

"Hopefully he's OK," Tagliani said. "He's in good hands with the doctors. Let's cross our fingers."

Gidley was involved in a bad crash in a CART race in 2001 while driving for Chip Ganassi's team. His car went off course and struck a concrete bridge abutment. Gidley sustained a broken arm.

Gidley was experienced in a variety of motor sports, but was mostly known for his accomplishments in open-wheel and sports car racing. He got his start with Derrick Walker's CART team in 1999 after working as a mechanic for the Jim Russell racing school.

He moved on to Gerald Forsythe's team in 2000, then signed on with Ganassi. After moving to sports cars, he returned to CARRT with Rocketsports in 2004, and ran a handful of Indy Racing League events.

In 2005, he raced to victory with Michael McDowell in the 2005 Grand-Am finale in Mexico City. In 2007, he raced with Max Angelelli for the SunTrust team.

Malucelli, 29, a native of Italy, was running in the top 16 overall and third in the GTLM class at the time of the crash.

Born in Forti, Italy, Malucelli finished eighth last year in the ALMS GT championship with the Risi Competizone team, winning with Berreta at Virginia International Raceway. In 2008 and 2009, Malucelli was part of a team that finished second in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans."It's difficult to say what happened," said Olivier Beretta, a co-driver in the No. 62 Ferrari with Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni. "The sun is going down, and in this corner you don't see very well. I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. I don't know what happened, but the most important thing right now is Matteo."

The crash and lengthy delay appeared to have shaken many teams and drivers. Sports car veteran Wayne Taylor, who came out of retirement to help his sons in the Rolex 24, got emotional as he prepared to get in the car and resume racing.

"As soon as we get started to go again, I'll get in and do my stint," Taylor said. "And then I'll be done. I'll be done completely.


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