KENNEDY, Minn. – Presley Truedson spoke out at length on Thursday evening following the confirmation of her decision to sit out the entirety of Indiana Midget Week due to concussion symptoms.
Truedson endured a hard crash during the POWRi-sanctioned Turnpike Challenge in Oklahoma last month, and told Sprint Car & Midget that she began feeling ill after getting home from the three-day weekend.
While she first brushed it off, she realized quickly that things were more serious than she initially thought.
“After the accident, I came back to North Carolina and went through IMPACT testing … the whole concussion protocol for confirmation, but everything points to the Turnpike Challenge as being where things happened for me,” Truedson explained. “I’m bummed to be missing out on a great week of racing, but my health has to be the top priority in a situation like this. I’m in good hands with the doctors that Toyota Racing Development has looking after me and I know we’ll work through this situation. It’s just something that’s going to take time to bounce back from.
“Things are a little more serious than I thought, but we’ll get it figured out and I’m hopeful to be back as soon as I’m able to do so safely.”
Truedson was contesting her second weekend of the season with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports during the Turnpike Challenge, following an initial outing during the Chili Bowl Nationals in January.
It was a weekend she was looking forward to, but one that ultimately took a turn she wasn’t expecting.
“It was tough,” Truedson said of racing through the weekend. “Being on a rough track, particularly as the weekend wore on, and then not realizing how unwell I really was at first was a lot to manage.”
In the wake of her accident and the symptoms she’s been enduring, Truedson has had to take her eyes off of being in the driver’s seat and focus solely on her recovery – at least for the time being.
“As of right now, I don’t know when I’ll be back in a race car,” she noted. “The risk of doing more damage right now is pretty high, so I don’t even want to think about that right now until I’m off of concussion protocol and good with my doctors. I’m actually not even allowed to travel up to Indiana for midget week to help the team, so that’s a bummer, but I know it’s in my best interest given the situation.”
As she begins her recovery, Truedson is working with Dr. Jerry Petty from the Charlotte Neurosurgery and Spine Center. Petty is the same doctor who oversaw Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s recovery and road back to racing after Earnhardt’s concussion in 2012 that forced him to sit out several NASCAR Cup Series races.
Truedson said that the biggest message she wants to put out to the racing industry is one similar to what Earnhardt spoke to in his 2018 book, Racing to the Finish: My Story, that it’s OK to admit not being OK.
“I really want to help people understand that your brain and health are serious things and very important,” Truedson said. “I’ve gotten messages from a lot of racers that I know in the wake of all this that have said they wish they would have done things differently. I watched my old car owner, Zach Daum, experience lasting symptoms from concussions until he was able to get help for his brain to heal and recover fully. It made me happy to see that he was able to take the initiative to make his health the top priority and I want to follow in his footsteps and do the same.
“All in all, I want more people to realize that it’s OK to not be OK,” she added. “As much as I’d like to lie to myself and say to everyone that my head is fine, that’s just not the case right now. It feels good to be surrounded by a bunch of people who believe in me and want the best for me, and that’s the biggest thing that has stood out for me so far in this whole process.”
Her goal with that message is that more racers in the future will follow a similar path and make sure that, in the event of a concussion or other serious issue, they put their well-being at the top of mind.
“Racing is important and meaningful to all of us, but people have to come first,” she said. “My hope is that we can change the narrative in the future to where this type of self-care doesn’t need kudos.”