Gidley making Daytona return in Prototype Challenge

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Gidley making Daytona return in Prototype Challenge

IMSA

Gidley making Daytona return in Prototype Challenge

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Eight years after his life-changing crash at the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Memo Gidley is set for a return to the event in an LMP3 entry with AL Autosport with JDC Motorsports.

The popular former Champ Car and Grand-Am driver will share the No. 23 Duqueine D08 with Missouri’s Alex Koreiba in IMSA’s Prototype Challenge series, which serves as one of the support races leading into the big 24-hour event.

Gidley, who made a triumphant return to Victory Lane last year in the SRO Americas series driving a Bentley Continental GT3, was thankful to receive the surprise invitation from ALA with JDC team owner Alex Damalas.

“The LMP3 cars are great, and I did a few races in them and had a great time,” Gidley told RACER. “Even though I’ve been doing more GT3-type stuff lately, it’s love getting back into a prototype. They fit where I come from, just like open-wheel cars that react quickly. LMP3s are just like big go karts, so jumping back into LMP3 is going to be great.

“And I’m super excited about this opportunity to come from Mr. Damalas, and John Church, who I’ve known since he first got into pro racing. The best part is I always keep myself ready, always in the gym in case something like this comes along, and I never knew it was coming up till a few days ago.”

The years following the wicked 2014 Rolex 24 crash that paused Gidley’s career presented serious questions as to whether he would be able to drive again. With his lower extremities smashed and back injuries that made sitting an anguishing experience, the recovery process was slow, but in time, his perseverance — along with the help from his mother, and his wife Mari –enabled a full recovery.

“Daytona has been great for me; I think 2005 was the first year that I was there with Daytona Prototypes and most of the times I was there, we were super competitive,” Gidley said. “And you know, the crash with Bob Stallings Racing and the Corvette DP, for me, I have no flashbacks on that race or what happened at Daytona. I mean, I know about all the recovery we went through after that race, but I don’t have any negative memories of Daytona; it’s just that my mind doesn’t quite work that way.”

While there, Gidley also hopes to reconnect with team owners, team managers, and drivers in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In a perfect world, once he’s done with the IPC race, Gidley would love to reopen a few doors in IMSA’s top series.

“For me, it’s just like a clean record,” he added. “I’m excited to get back there and just be around Daytona again. We had some good runs there been with some great teams there, and I had a lot of enjoyment. I’m looking forward to get back on the high banking and on the infield again.”

Gidley also has the full support of his family to write a new and happier chapter about racing on the 3.56-mile roval.

“You know, I could dramatize things and say my wife was mad at me, but the great thing is that Mari said, ‘Wow, that’s exciting!’, and my mom had the same reaction,” he said. “They were the ones who really dealt with and remember the aftermath, so come along this far, they know what it was like at its worst and they’re very excited for me. They want me to get out there and do it again.”

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