Shane Hmiel recovering after horrific wreck

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.



Shane Hmiel’s road to recovery should take him home to North Carolina for rehabilitation in the next 10 days.

Hmiel, 30, suffered two compression fractures in his neck and two compression fractures in his back following a violent wreck during qualifying at Terre Haute Action Track while driving a United States Auto Club Silver Crown car on October 9th.

Hmiel has been recuperating at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where he was airlifted following the accident. He has weathered several surgeries and a serious bout of pneumonia. His final surgery was postponed last and has been rescheduled for Monday.

On Saturday, Hmiel’s father Steve, director of competition for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, said Shane was “breathing on his own, ... Drinking water and eating popsicles, I can read his lips. (He’s) sitting up in (his) chair. (He) should air ambulance to Carolinas (Medical Center) rehab in Charlotte in the next 10 days. Doctors are amazed at his progress and are very confident in his future.”

Last week at Martinsville, Steve Hmiel returned to the track for the first time since he got the call at California about his son’s accident. Hmiel believes the outpouring of support that Shane has received from the race community and the expertise of the medical staff has expedited his recovery. In particular, Hmiel refers to his wife Lisa as “the rock” that has kept the family together through the tough moments he and Shane’s brother Tyler have experienced throughout the ordeal.

“He’s frustrated when he wakes because he really wants to go,” Hmiel said. “And he can’t go. That’s really hard for his mother and I to watch. But it’s OK that he’s trying that hard too. He’s going to be depressed. It’s not fun."

“He has two really bad bruises on his spinal cord — but it‘s not permanent damage. He’s had two huge operations. The doctors say, ’keep your fingers crossed, it’s going to be all right. They seem to believe that he has a good opportunity — and better than most — to make a full recovery. I’ll believe it when I see it. Not that I’m being negative, I just don’t want to be so positive and then be disappointed.”

Throughout this trying experience, Hmiel has learned a valuable lesson. While he considers himself “religious” Hmiel has witnessed first-hand though Shane’s remarkable turnaround the power of prayer and positive thinking.

“You can feel what people are doing for you,” Hmiel said. “I believe — I’m not as active as anyone of us should be, but you can feel people carrying you around. On a bad, ‘you can’t quit, you got to keep going’.

“If we can just keep all that positive stuff going in his direction because he shouldn’t be here. He went through a horrible accident and survived it for a number of reasons. Hopefully, all that good luck will continue. I can’t wait to be around for Shane’s next chapter.”

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