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Silverman set to return to Meadowlands

December 21, 2010

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More than six months after he was seriously injured in a racing accident, driver Richie Silverman is almost ready to return to the races.

On June 18, in the second race at the Meadowlands, Silverman was one of six drivers thrown to the ground in a chain reaction accident. He suffered a severe concussion as well as two broken ankles.

Daniel Dube, who was the second most seriously injured driver with two fractured vertebrae and a broken carpal bone in his right hand, missed six weeks of racing, returning at the end of July.

Silverman, 46, said that he originally thought he would miss about two months – not six.

“Well, all the doctors told me it would be more like six, but if course I didn’t believe them,” said the career winner of $33 million. “But I have actually only had the braces off for about six weeks. I spent so long in a wheelchair that it affected how my hips worked. They got weak and it affected how I walked. I had a lot of therapy that included stretching and resistance and weight bearing, the basics. But for a while I couldn’t run.  Now I can do a slow jog.”

For the most part, Silverman has avoided watching the race.

 “I’ve watched the side view of the accident, but never the head-on,” he said.  “I’ve heard from many people that it’s the worst they’ve ever seen. But as horrific as it may have been, the positive thing about it is that I really have no recollection of anything that happened.  I guess that’s the mind’s way of protecting itself. I am actually blessed  that’s all that happened. It could have been worse.”

Silverman said that the first part of his recovery was the most difficult.

“I was stir-crazy. It was tough. Having to rely on everybody for everything was a very humbling experience.  But once I could get out of the wheelchair it got much better because I could do stuff for myself.”

He added that as soon as he was able, he went to his father Jerry’s barn and jogged and trained horses.  So far, he said he has had no trepidation about returning to competition.

 “I’ve been at the barn working with dad and haven’t been nervous in the bike. I guess the true test will be behind the gate, but it’s something I’ve done my whole life and it’s how I make my living,” he said. “I am going to go in qualifiers and I’ve talked to people who have said they’ll use me so now I just have to do it. And I have a couple of my own which is also good. Time will tell and we’ll see how comfortable I can be out there.”

Silverman, who calls Florida home, said that he’ll head north to New Jersey in a few days, something his family has accepted.

“I am finishing up my therapy and I have a doctor’s appointment on Dec. 27. Then it’s in the car and up to New Jersey the next day. Of course, family is not happy that I am leaving and they are nervous about me driving, but that is normal. I want to come back to New Jersey to do my part to support it. I may have been in Florida, but I’m like everyone else – just shaking my head in disbelief, at what has been happening at the Meadowlands.  It’s been very hard to swallow.”

Silverman said that as always, his wife Beth, who works as a teacher, has been his rock through this difficult time.

“Beth has been working all along through all of this. She’s tough. As a matter of fact, she was just able to take her first break since this happened. I am now in charge of the kids. I am a little bit overwhelmed!” (harnessracing.com)
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