Dan Stanley is gearing up to contest the 2000 Progressive Insurance AMA U.S. Flat Track Championships, just like Chris Carr and Rich King. But unlike Carr, King and the rest, the Bellingham, Washington-based rider has had to go about his preparation a little differently.
Instead of pushing his muscles to the max in the gym, Stanley has been training them to move. Instead of hitting the road for a vigorous run, he has been learning to walk again. The hard work was brought on by the paralyzing injuries that Stanley suffered after vaulting over the railing in turn three during a practice session at the Sacramento Mile last autumn. Although it was evident that his injuries were severe at the time, few people knew how severe, and Stanley kept quiet.
“I crushed the T-4 and T-5 vertebrae in my back,” Stanley said. “Pieces of bone cut into my spinal cord, and that’s what paralyzed my legs.”
But there is a happy ending to this story, or perhaps more accurately, a happy beginning, as Stanley has made what his doctors are calling a miraculous recovery. He plans to be ready to go for the 2000 racing season.
“Once I got some movement back in my legs, we just got into some deep physical therapy,” Stanley said. “My doctor was completely blown away by how fast I made improvements. So was I.”
He’s not perfect yet – in fact far from it. According to Stanley, his left leg has about 90 percent mobility. The right is at 100 percent, but Stanley is still having difficulty with the feeling in that leg.
“I can feel it when people touch it,” Stanley said. “I can’t feel hot or cold sensations, but my doctor expects that all to come back.
“After my accident, people were telling me that that was enough,” Stanley continued. “But I always knew that I would do my best to heal as good as I could, and if that was good enough to race again, then that’s what I was going to do. Quitting never entered my mind. I was prepared to be away from the sport for a long time, but after going to the gym and working out, it has all come back really fast. Now, my doctor thinks that I could start riding and testing as early as February.”
True to their word, the folks at Gardner Racing have welcomed Stanley back with open arms. Look for him to be aboard his familiar red, white and blue XR750, and charging hard, sometime after Daytona.