Healing Conway looks forward to return to car
Seven months ago, Mike Conway was fielding questions about a promising IZOD IndyCar Series season at the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing shop as team principals announced their drivers and sponsors. This week, Conway was sifting through mail at the Indianapolis facility - cards, letters, even a painting, wishing him a speedy and full recovery.
"It's amazing the reception I've gotten from so many people sending well-wishes," said Conway, whose second season with the team was cut short when he suffered serious back and leg injuries in last-lap crash in the Indianapolis 500. "It's all going in the right direction."
Conway returned from the UK to be evaluated by Indy Racing League medical personnel. The MRI on his back showed the compression fracture has healed. The cast has been off his left leg for weeks, and he's been full bore into training. In other words, the 27-year-old is physically progressing for a full return to the race car.
"It's all healing and everything is still where it should be," Conway said. "They expected me still to be on crutches at this point, so I've kind of exceeded their expectations, which is good. I've been working hard at training non-stop the past two months, trying to do everything I can to get back. It's been an interesting journey, an experience definitely.
"The rehabilitation has been good because it keeps you focused on where you want to be at the end of it. The first six weeks of just sitting around doing nothing was annoying."
Conway never has been one to be inactive for long, so the recovery in the hospital and then back home in England was challenging mentally and physically. When cleared, he initiated rehabilitation with swimming and light weight lifting. Cycling was added when the leg cast was removed, and he was behind the wheel of a racing simulator about seven weeks after the incident "to keep sharp and busy."
"There are up and down days," he said. "The training is the same, too. You try to push as much as you can and then you step back a bit. You see some good changes one week and nothing the next, and then the next two weeks you see some really good steps. The more days of rest you have you feel better and the legs feel stronger.
"I've never had a big injury like that before so there are lots of people telling you what to expect and you have to go through it and live it to know what it's about."
Conway said he's watched the accident "about 100 times and explained how it happened" during interviews, but it's something that occurred in the past. He's been tracking the season, looking to the future.
"I've forgotten about it now," he said. "I'm on the road to getting back in the car, not think about what happened before. I've been watching (the races) on my laptop and on TV. The first couple to watch were a bit strange because there was someone else in my car and I wanted to be out there. You just have to focus on what you need to do."
That includes fully regaining his strength, stamina and mobility.
"I want to be 100 percent when I get back in; to not have any setbacks by getting in too early," said Conway, who will attend the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I'm looking forward to seeing the cars go round."
He has a lot of catching up with fellow competitors and friends, and with the well-wishers.
"I have to catch up on thank yous," he said.