A month after being injured in a track accident, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Joey Gladstone will join the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour at this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta. Gladstone was injured in a high-speed crash during practice in South Carolina on April 8. Gladstone was thrown from his Outlaw Pro Mod bike after running 208 mph. His injuries included broken ribs, a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade, a bruised lung and multiple abrasions.
Since the accident, Gladstone has been at home in Virginia, participating in daily rehabilitation sessions, including cryotherapy and a grueling physiotherapy program. Having made significant progress, he plans to join teammate Cory Reed for this weekend’s final NHRA Camping World Series event at Atlanta Dragway.
âI feel really good. I have been off any type of pain reliever for about two weeks and have regained full mobility, âsaid Gladstone. âOne of the reasons we opted for surgery on my collarbone was the recovery time. With the surgery it heals in about three weeks, whereas it would probably take twice as long if I let it heal naturally. I have ridden with a broken collarbone before. When I was 17 I broke it on a Tuesday and ran on Friday. It wasn’t a Pro Stock motorcycle, but it gave me a good idea of ââwhat I could and couldn’t do.
âSince the accident my goal has been to get back on the bike as quickly as possible,â said Gladstone. âIt’s the goal that motivated me throughout this physical therapy. The broken bones didn’t really bother me. My biggest concern was some of the rash, but pretty much all of the skin has grown back, and I have no problem putting on leathers or gloves or anything. Honestly, I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t feel comfortable getting back on the bike, but I feel like I’ve been through this whole thing pretty well.
Gladstone has good reason for wanting to return to Pro Stock Motorcycle competition. At the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals season opener in Gainesville, Gladstone and teammate Cory Reed made their debut with two new Suzuki motorcycles prepared by the Vance & Hines team, and they were two of the fastest motorcycles on field. Using the new four-valve engine combination, Gladstone qualified No.3 with a career best time of 6.783.
Gladstone missed the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas and as a result fell to 15th in the standings, but is only 23 points from the Top 10 and 169 points behind the current leader. Ryan Oehler. . Only three races in the season, Gladstone believes he can quickly make up much of the lost ground.
âI haven’t done a lot of races, but the new bike is great,â said Gladstone. âI feel like I can win heats with it, and I don’t want to miss out on other points that would make it harder for me to get into the Top 10. Cory and I honestly feel we can win some races. this year, and I don’t want to miss it.
When it comes to safety, Gladstone also admitted that he had learned a few lessons from his crash and was more than willing to share his experience with his competitors or anyone else who rides a motorcycle.
âFirst of all, I was riding a grudge bike when I fell, and I wasn’t wearing the usual leathers I would wear in an NHRA race,â Gladstone said. âI have a thin and light suit that I had made, and it was against the best judgment of the company that made it. I’ll never wear a thin suit again. I also plan to wear thicker gloves and a much better shoe designed for running. My Shoei helmet did an amazing job protecting my head, so I’m going to be buying a new one this week. I ran for a long time and had no problems, and I admit that sometimes you can be a little complacent. Ultimately, I take responsibility for everything that happened and am happy to share what I have learned to help someone else avoid serious injury.
Gladstone admits that when he arrives in Peach State he has his work cut out for him. There are 22 Pro Stock motorcycles on the pre-registration list, including world champions Matt Smith, Jerry Savoie, Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec and Angelle Sampey, and a total of 13 riders who have already won national events of the NHRA. Gladstone and Reed hope to join that list but admit they need to advance to Sunday’s final eliminations first. And they only have two qualifying sessions to do so.
âI’m excited to see how it all works,â Gladstone said. âWith 22 bikes, you have to work on it. It’s also cool to see Eddie and Andrew again. This will only make the class even more difficult. I am really very happy to have the opportunity to get back on a bike.