Quotes From Steve Park's Saturday Press Conference At Bristol
30 March 1998NOTE: Park came to the race track Saturday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway, his first trip back to the garage area since injuries sustained earlier this month at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"Right now we're just doing what they call a progressive resistance therapy. It doesn't include any weight just yet. Although I wanted to advance the program, the last time I went to the doctor, he said the bone is not strong enough to start carrying any weight on the leg. It's basically like an aerobic exercise where you just do a lot of leg lifts with no weights and get some mobility back in the knee and the leg itself and try to keep the muscles from getting atrophy or just deteriorating. That's really been the bonus of not having a cast on it. The last two days before I left the hospital, I started therapy already. It's giving the muscles a chance not to deteriorate to the point where you can't use the leg at all. Once the bone gets strong enough in it, we can get some weight down on it and do some advance physical therapy and we'll be in good shape.
"We do about an hour a day. Some days are OK, and some days aren't as fun as the other days. They've been doing a great job getting the mobility back in the leg. We can pretty much have the leg in a normal, straight position. We have it maxed out at about 96 degrees bent, which is pretty good. We feel we're well beyond where we thought we'd be at this point in therapy. Therapists are pretty excited about the progress. They like my determination every time we do something and I can achieve a new goal every time we get out. I push a little harder every time and do a little bit of stuff on my own and try to surprise them the next day. It's coming along.
"My therapist is about as determined as I am. He's not afraid to put me through some pain. It's been good for me to really get a guy as eager as I am to try to get things working good again. Sometimes I push it a little bit and the leg hurts a little bit the next day. The doctor says I can do too much. He really doesn't want me to put any weight on it and I don't think he wants me out and about as much as I am right now. I'm just trying to be careful. I think it's good for me to be out. That helps my mental therapy to try to do some more normal things. Maybe that'll give the leg a better chance to feel normal. This is my first time back to a race track. Last week, we were just too weak to get to Darlington. We ended up getting to the shop for half a day when I wasn't suppose to, but I wanted to see the guys and wish them well before they took off. I'm feeling better, so I figured we'd give it a shot this week and bring down the motorhome and relax a little bit and get in and see the guys and cheer on the Pennzoil team this weekend.
"I think the arrangement that's been worked out is a great opportunity for us to be associated with Darrell Waltrip. We're surrounded by good people. Darrell is a great spokesman, not only for NASCAR but also for Pennzoil. I think it's going to be a great opportunity for himself and the team to spend the next few months together.
"I haven't really set a target date yet to return. We'll start looking at it more when I can throw these crutches away and walk a little bit and see how strong the leg is and see what the doctor has to say and see how the bone's healing. That'll give me more of a projected target date to get back and see which race to look at. Right now, the doctor doesn't even want me in advance physical therapy, much less the race car yet. He wants that bone to heal. It was a pretty bad break, and it's probably going to take some time to heal, but last week he said the bone started healing and it looks pretty good. I'll see him in another couple of weeks and we'll see how it goes.
"It's like going 110 mph and then going down to idle for me. That's been the toughest part. Being on the go all the time and being around the race track and the race cars and just going wide open all the time to almost being restricted to not leaving the house. That's been tough. I've been fortunate I've got a lot of friends and family around so I can get through it. The amount of fan mail we've been getting every day sent to the fan club and to the office. That's helped a lot. Sitting at home not being able to do nothing, reading some of the support you get from thousands and thousands of race fans has really picked my spirits up. It has give me some more ambition to really go on and get this leg better. To read some of the things that some other people have been through have made this broken leg look like a broken finger. I just feel blessed. It could have been worse. We're just going to pick up the pieces and go on and get back in the race car.
"I've been reading a lot. I do therapy an hour every day, which usually takes me half an hour to prepare for and half an hour to rest from. That gets you through the middle part of the day. I went to the car wash the other day. I'm just starting to get out of the house now. I'm just getting caught up on a lot of reading and getting caught up paper work wise and business wise. I'm going to try to answer some of these letters I've been getting. If I've got one, I've got 10,000 cards and letters. It's hard to answer all of 'em, but we're going to try to do some just to thank everybody for their support."