News & Multimedia

Spies Starts Road Back To Podium At Indianapolis

After months in the shadows, the road to redemption starts in Indianapolis for American MotoGP star Ben Spies.

Spies will return to MotoGP competition Aug. 16-18 at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP after missing six of the last seven races this season due to an extended rehabilitation of a serious shoulder injury suffered at the end of last season.

“Everything is right on schedule,” Spies said last month. “So I look forward to coming back at Indy and being 100 percent. We’ve missed a lot of the season, but I’m looking forward to basically starting my season at Indy and getting back to where we need to be.”

Spies, from Longview, Texas, suffered torn ligaments in his right shoulder in a crash during the Malaysian Grand Prix last October in the final races of his two-year tenure with the elite Yamaha Factory Racing team. The procedure consisted of reconstructing the ligaments with ligaments taken from a cadaver.

Three-time AMA Superbike champion and 2009 World Superbike champion Spies missed the final two races of the 2012 season and the first test with his new team, Ignite Pramac Racing, right after the final race of 2012.

Spies pushed hard in his rehab to prepare for the first preseason tests of 2013 in February at Sepang, Malaysia, but he sat out the final day of that three-day test due to lingering pain and weakness in his rebuilt shoulder.

He was on the grid for the season debut at Qatar, finishing a promising 10th on his Ignite Pramac Ducati under the lights in the night race. But Spies struggled home to a 13th-place finish at the next race, the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas at Austin, suffering from stabbing pain in his chest. It was soon discovered that his chest muscles were injured while trying to overcompensate for the weakness in his healing shoulder, trying to hold up his body through the extreme G-forces of riding a Grand Prix motorcycle.

“At the beginning of the season, we came back too soon, and I had another injury at Austin because I wasn’t strong enough to ride,” Spies said. “Sometimes injuries make more injuries.”

Spies missed the next two races and tried to ride at the Grand Prix of Italy in late May but withdrew after the first day of practice due to persistent pain and weakness. Enough was enough.

“Ducati and I and the Italian doctor and my American doctor made the best decision to come back in the right way and not push things,” Spies said.

So Spies made the tough, but necessary, decision to step away from MotoGP for the last 10 weeks for more recovery and rehabilitation of his shoulder. Rumors swirled around the MotoGP paddock and Internet during that hiatus whether Spies’ injury was career-ending.

But Spies’ efforts to block that white noise in relative solitude have paid off.

“I know there have been a lot of rumors, but I know that this break that we took to get me back to 100 percent was the smartest thing to do,” Spies said. “Now I can go to Indy and know that I’m where I need to be with my health, and all I need to do is work on getting back up to speed. It’s the first time in eight months that I’ve had that feeling. Now is the first time in a long time that I’m really happy because my fitness is coming along well.”

While Spies is feeling healthy, he also knows it’s unrealistic to expect a return to the front of the grid.

First, his Ducati has not shown the same kind of competitive speed as the Yamaha machines that delivered him a pole position at Indianapolis in 2010 and podium finishes at this event in 2010 and 2011.

And most importantly, it’s been 10 weeks since Spies has put on his leathers, gloves, boots and helmet and rode one of the most sophisticated, high-performance road-racing motorcycles on Earth.

“Now, I have confidence in myself in terms of fitness, but of course I know I won’t be back up to speed in one session because I haven’t ridden the bike lately.

“I’ve been doing rehab three to four days a week at the best rehab place in Dallas and one of the best in the U.S. They look at me from day to day and see what I need to work on. When they see that something needs to be stronger, they change the program.

“People don’t see me at the races, but I’ve been working my butt off at home to get back to where I need to be. It’s taken a lot longer than I or anybody wanted it to, but there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Now all Spies can do is race a 1000cc Grand Prix motorcycle, something he can do among the very best in the world – especially at Indianapolis.
 

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Spies Starts Road Back To Podium At Indianapolis
 
Spies Starts Road Back To Podium At Indianapolis
Spies will return to MotoGP competition Aug. 16-18 at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP after missing six of the last seven races this season due to an extended rehabilitation of a serious shoulder injury suffered at the end of last season.
Read More
Related Media
2015 Rolex 24 Victory Podium
 
INDYCAR Drivers Continue 24-Hour Race Wins Streak
Victory in the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona will be quite the preseason confidence boost to Kanaan and teammate Scott Dixon, who co-drove the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car with Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.
Read More
Indianapolis 500 Parade of Bands
 
Indianapolis 500 Parade of Bands Recognized by Indianapolis House/Senate Resolution
The 90th anniversary of the annual Parade of Bands that will precede the 2015 Indianapolis 500 was recognized by the Indiana House and Senate in a concurrent resolution during the General Assembly at the Indiana Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis on Monday, Jan. 26.
Read More
Jeff Gordon
 
Gordon To Run Final NASCAR Season in 2015
Jeff Gordon, the celebrated stock car champion whose crossover appeal helped take NASCAR into the mainstream, will compete in his 23rd and final full-time Sprint Cup Series season in 2015. He announced his decision this morning to the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team he has driven for since November 1992.
Read More
A.J. Foyt
 
Sharing 'Super Tex' Stories on a Special 80th Birthday
Anthony Joseph “A.J.” Foyt, the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and the only driver to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Daytona and Le Mans, turns 80 today. We asked a few veteran motorsports journalists and broadcasters to share tributes and stories about the man universally known as “Super Tex.”
Read More
Ryan Hunter-Reay
 
Hunter-Reay Presented With Baby Borg Trophy
The trophies are keepsakes for the winning driver and team owner. The 14-inch-tall, sterling silver Championship Driver’s Trophy – a replica of the Borg-Warner Trophy -- rests on a 4-inch by 8-inch beveled black marble base that includes a three-dimensional sterling silver image of the winning driver’s face hand-crafted by noted American sculptor William Behrends, and an inscription of the winning team and year of victory.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 1,800
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Phil Sparks at (317) 492-6463 or email at psparks@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
The story of @TonyKanaan and the #Indy500 Quilt Lady explained in 100 words on The Blog: http://t.co/WcA8cQyOlr http://t.co/OqwXCDfinl
about 13 hours ago