Tom Kerr Really Cares
Racing is usually known for fierce rivalries and tough competition. The cars are expensive and drivers have to push the cars to their very limits. Sometimes that leads to epic on-track battles and other times it leads to disastrous wrecks. Michael Levitas had the latter happen this past weekend at Road America. He managed to go off at the kink and come back on safely. Michael quickly moved over to the right to allow other cars with momentum to pass him, but didn’t see the car on his back right corner. The two touched, which sent both into the wall along the back straight. Harris Levitas called to all the other TPC drivers over the radio “car off in the kink, drivers right. Car off in the kink, drivers right.”
Cars slowed down and tiptoed by as the whole right front suspension assembly and wheel rolled across track, coming to a halt just a few feet from the edge. The cloud of dust stirred up from Michael’s wheels off at the kink was just starting to settle. The cameras panned to see the incident with safety workers running to the scene. Tom Kerr pulled over to the right, luckily missing most of the debris. Harris called out over the radio “Stay left Tom! Tom, stay left!” hoping to have Tom avoid most of the broken carbon and other Porsche body parts. Tom heard the call and ignored it. He saw Michael’s car stopped against the wall and needed to see if his teammate was okay.
Tom crept by the incident, searching for Michael’s movements in the car, narrowly missing Michael’s wheel and suspension in the center of the track. While the crew anxiously watched the cameras in the pits, Tom kept moving, ever so slowly past the incident. Tom looked and saw Michael’s car on the grass with major front right damage and called to ask if he needed to stop to offer medical help. He continued to slow down along the rest of the back straight, nearly stopping at Canada Corner.
This was Tom’s comeback race weekend. He couldn’t bare to see anyone helicoptered out like he was at Montreal. It had only been eight short weeks since his big accident at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which required him to be airlifted out of the track—a precaution which he thought was totally unnecessary. The rescue workers forced him into the helicopter and sedated him. If you ask Tom, the flight made for a cool racing story to tell all his friends. However, the private tour over the F1 circuit cost him a brand new race suit, race car, and a mild concussion.
Harris called out “He’s fine Tom. Michael is okay.” Tom released a sigh of relief and hit the gas pedal again. The crew watched in relief as one camera showed Michael exiting the wrecked car and another showing Tom continuing on.
Once the race restarted, Tom stayed back to watch others race hard and push past their limits. He just wanted to finish.
After taking the checker, Tom’s coach, Mike Skeen, went to find Tom at the tent. Mike asked what Tom thought of the race. Tom replied “I’m just happy to finish. I knew all those guys were going to wreck ahead of me so I just tried to stay back. I’m not here to win races. I’m here to have fun. If I was here to win races, I’d be pushing more. I’m just getting my head back into it from a near death experience so my goal was to just bring the car back in one piece and not hit anything. That was tough to do today. I’m getting back to having fun, enjoying the experience, and realizing how lucky I am to be able to do this.”
Tom found Michael and gave him a quick check. After such a hard hit, Tom wanted to make sure that Michael got the best care. Tom gave the team doc seal of approval then went to pack up and head home. He knew he needed to focus and work hard to get back up to speed and be competitive again. As he drove off in his rental car, he told the team “See you at VIR!”
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