DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli are awake and communicating after being admitted to Halifax Health Medical Center after a horrific crash Saturday less than three hours into the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, according to David Hart, IMSA director of communications.
No further details on possible injuries or care received were provided.
Gidley's No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP slammed into the Ferrari driven by Malucelli 94 laps into the 24-hour race on Daytona's infield road course.
Gidley was taken directly to Halifax — located about a mile from the speedway — bypassing the infield care center after rescue workers extricated him from the car. Malucelli, who did not have to be cut from the car, was also transported to Halifax.
The race was red-flagged as rescue workers tended to both drivers, placing them on stretchers then into waiting ambulances. It was the first red flag in the race since 2004, when heavy rain brought the race to a stop.
The race resumed about 90 minutes after the accident happened.
At the time of the wreck, Gidley was running fourth in the race, which was about to pass the three-hour mark. He was racing down a high-speed section of the track between Turns 3 and 4, headed into the sun. Malucelli was ahead of him, reporting to his pits that he was without power and pulled over to the left.
Gidley, however, slammed into the car as he negotiated that section of the track.
Alex Tagliani, competing in the PC class, said his thoughts were with Gidley and his family.
"Hopefully he's OK," Tagliani said. "He's in good hands with the doctors. Let's cross our fingers."
Malucelli, 29, a native of Italy, was running in the top 16 overall and third in the GTLM class at the time of the crash.
"It's difficult to say what happened," said Olivier Beretta, a co-driver in the No. 62 Ferrari with Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni. "The sun is going down, and in this corner you don't see very well. I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. I don't know what happened, but the most important thing right now is Matteo."
Gidley's car started from the pole position with Alex Gurney behind the wheel. Jon Fogarty and Darren Law are the car's other drivers for the race.
The car had extensive front-end damage, and the track was littered with debris.
"These things happen in racing, but you never expect it to be your car and your team," Law said. "I don't know what's going on. I hope he's OK. I'm pretty sure we're out of the deal. I really don't know what happened. I looked up on the TV and saw we were in a crash. We're going to the hospital now."
Drivers complained about the sharp glare from the setting sun in two places -- as they crossed the start/finish line on the speedway portion of the course, and as they exited Turn 3 in the infield portion of the course and began accelerating toward Turn 4, a slight left-hand kink.
Gidley's car struck Malucelli's car just before they reached the kink.
"(The sun) was very, very bad for the first part of my stint," said Christian Fittipaldi. "I'm 200 percent certain that Memo had that problem. When he came out of Turn 3, he basically couldn't see anything. He just nailed the car right in front of him."
Asked if IMSA officials should have used a yellow flag in the areas affected by sun, Fittipaldi said, "That's a good question. Very good question, actually. You have a point."
The 40-year-old Gidley is an experienced sports car driver who was born in Mexico but holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Mexico.
Gidley was involved in a bad crash in a CART race in 2001 while driving for Chip Ganassi's team. His car went off course and struck a concrete bridge abutment. Gidley sustained a broken arm.
Gidley is experienced in a variety of motor sports but is mostly known for his accomplishments in open-wheel and sports car racing. He got his start with Derrick Walker's CART team in 1999 after working as a mechanic for the Jim Russell racing school.
He moved on to Gerald Forsythe's team in 2000, then signed on with Ganassi. After moving to sports cars, he returned to CART with Rocketsports in 2004, and ran a handful of Indy Racing League events.
In 2005, he raced to victory with Michael McDowell in the 2005 Grand-Am finale in Mexico City. In 2007, he raced with Max Angelelli for the SunTrust team.
Malucelli finished eighth last year in the ALMS GT championship with the Risi Competizone team, winning with Berreta at Virginia International Raceway. In 2008 and 2009, Malucelli was part of a team that finished second in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The crash and lengthy delay appeared to have shaken many teams and drivers. Sports car veteran Wayne Taylor, who came out of retirement to help his sons in the Rolex 24, got emotional as he prepared to get in the car and resume racing.
"As soon as we get started to go again, I'll get in and do my stint," Taylor said. "And then I'll be done. I'll be done completely."
The 58-year-old last raced in 2010 -- at the Rolex -- but was talked into driving one stint so he could join the lineup with sons with Ricky and Jordan. Despite his reluctance to do much in the car, Taylor held his own as he battled Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan.
Taylor, a two-time former overall winner at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, remained emotional as he addressed the media following his short stint, with his thoughts immediately turning to Gidley.
"Memo's accident certainly put a damper on everything for me," Taylor said. "Whenever you see an accident like that, it puts everything into perspective."
IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, who joined Dirk Mueller, John Edwards and Dirk Werner in co-driving the No. 56 BMW Team RLL Z4 GT entry, said he was anxiously awaiting news about Gidley,
"I hope Memo is OK," said Rahal, who won the overall title at the Rolex 24 in 2011. "I haven't heard an update, but that looked nasty when I went by. You never want to see anything like that, so I hope he's doing just fine."
The early hours of the race, the first Rolex 24 since the two sanctioning bodies in North American sports car racing -- Grand Am and the American Le Mans Series -- were unified as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, were marred by accidents.
Scott Sharp got pushed off course in the "bus stop" chicane on the backstretch early in the race, and a Porsche nearly struck Sharp's car as he got it moving. Minutes later, Scott Pruett's airjack operator got caught up in the hose and was pulled down as Pruett attempted to leave the pits.
Pruett was forced to serve a stop-and-go penalty for the incident. The unidentified crew member was not injured.
"We've got to get it figured out," Ganassi team manager Tim Keene said.
Numerous other incidents were reported around the 3.56-mile, 12-turn course, including a dustup among several GT cars in Turn 3 on the first lap.
"The story of the first stint was the traffic," Oliver Gavin said. "It was pretty crazy,and lots of unusual lines being driven. Lots of people are going on and off, but not thinking when they come back on. It was an eventual first hour, to be sure."