In a career that has spanned 50 years, Conrad Morgan has experienced many triumphs and trials throughout his racing tenure. Sunday night Morgan faced his greatest trial while racing at his hometrack, Slinger Super Speedway (WI) when he hit the frontstretch wall head-on while trying to regain control after a tap in the left rear corner. Morgan was rushed to the hospital where he was later determined to have a broken vertebra, a cracked sternum, and a concussion following the hit.
He was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon and is now recovering at home. Morgan spoke to Speed51.com powered by JEGS on Wednesday morning about what he remembers from Sunday.
“I remember everything up to a minute or two before the wreck then I don’t remember anything after that until I was in a second hospital. They took me to the first hospital and they didn’t think they were medically equipped to do what needed to be done, so they sent me to another. I remember the ride down to the second hospital. I remember having to lay on my back for about 12 hours without moving, which is no fun to do. They wouldn’t let me move because they didn’t have the brace, it’s like a turtle shell that goes on your front and back. There’s a hundred different sizes of them, they didn’t have one in my size, so I had to wait for the correct one before I could move around at all. So that was a long time, laying around doing nothing. I got out Tuesday afternoon. It’s hard to get on a bed, much less do anything. I can walk for a minute or so but then I get so winded I have to sit down and rest.”
Morgan of Waukesha, Wisconsin has racked up many accolades over his 50 years at Slinger including six Super Late Model titles and the 1999 Slinger Nationals win. He has had his share of rough spots along the way, but said nothing compared to this one.
“It’s the worst wreck I’ve had. I was talking to some of the guys yesterday that I’ve been pretty fortunate to race in 50 years. I’ve had a few wrecks where I’ve gone to the hospital. I broke my arm at one point, had a concussion another point. Nothing anywhere near serious as this. I’ve been doing it 50 years, so I’ve been pretty lucky to get this far without having anything this serious.”
In the last 50 years Morgan believes one of the biggest advances has been in driver safety. It is a belief that was firmly illustrated when he had the chance to inspect his racecar after leaving the hospital Tuesday.
“If I had not had the HANS Device on Sunday, a good helmet, a good harness setup, and been in a safe racecar; I probably wouldn’t be talking today. That realization came to me pretty clearly when I got out of the hospital and saw the car for the first time. See how bad it is and see how much force there was when I hit the wall. My foot on the brake pushed the fire wall back between two and three inches. The steering wheel is pushed, if you had your hands on each side of the wheel, the steering wheel is bent down to the steering column on both sides. Instead of it being extended towards you, it’s the opposite direction by five or six inches. The marks on my body from the harness and the HANS when I hit, you can see the outline all over my shoulders, neck, and chest.”
Morgan expects to recover and despite the severity of the accident, he has just one plan ahead once he heals from his injuries.
“They told in the hospital not to plan on doing much driving for six weeks, much less racecars but even street cars. I think it’s going to be a matter of how quickly I heal, if I get to the point where I’m comfortable driving a car. My plan right now is to have the car back together and ready to race in six weeks’ time. Maybe the decision will have to be made then, but I’m planning to race this late-summer.”
One of the biggest letdowns for Morgan is the end to a roll of momentum he had going in 2016, which was magnified with a 75-lap feature victory back on Memorial Day weekend. Momentum he had hoped would get him a second Slinger Nationals win.
“I’m going to miss the Nationals which I’m really disappointed about. I think this is one of the better cars we’ve had in quite a few years. We’ve been pretty fortunate in the Nationals the last two years. Last summer we were second, 2014 we were fourth. I pretty much had it in my head I was going to be one of the guys to beat this year, the car has been really, really good, probably one of the best cars I’ve ever driven.”
Even with the pain, disappointment, and questions; Morgan was again clear that he has no intention of letting this be the end.
“It’s going to be a long few weeks here to get back to it, but I’m looking forward to it, and I absolutely plan on racing again.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI) – Twitter: @Connor51CT