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5 Minutes With .... Grant Langston

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Daytona’s main event started in scary fashion, when veteran champion Grant Langston crashed hard over a jump the first lap. The crash led to a red flag restart and a whole lot of fear over GL’s condition. Grant wasn’t moving when the medic crew got to him, but it turns out Grant only had a concussion and some bumps and bruises. We talk to him here to learn the rest.

Racer X Online: So Grant, do you know what happened with the crash?

Grant Langston: Well, I don’t know how to say it, but that section of jumps was a little tough all day, there were a few scary moments in practice, so they tried to slow us down by digging holes coming into the jump. They had changed the track all day, but the way that staircase is built, it didn’t have a nice transition, you had to tag the third jump and get into a pocket to get over the top. The pocket was really low, kind of like it was shaped like a banana, and I went too low into it. I kind of saw it coming before it happened, because so many people saw some close calls there in practice.

  • Langston in Atlanta, where he finished in the top ten.
Where you pushing extra hard on the first lap? You were really fast in the heat race and it seemed like it might be good night for you.

I got a good start, but for some reason Ivan went real slow through the first whoop section, so Canard got both of us. I really wanted to get around Ivan, because I felt like I was riding well, and after I got that start, I was like “podium here we come.” Not taking anything away from anyone else, but I just felt comfortable going that speed, much more comfortable than any other race this year. So I was excited. But I don’t want to say I was trying too hard, it was more like the track changed between the heat and the main, and the line I took threw me.

Do you remember the heat race? You were checking out before you stalled.

(Laughs) Yeah, yeah I remember all that. After that race, a lot of people were coming up to me saying I was on fire. I was hopping the whoops, and you can start thinking, “If I jump one more whoop I can do this in one less hop.” But I ended up landing on a whoop with my brake on, and some dirt caught into the frame and brake pedal. I guess I stalled it as the bike was bouncing back up in the air. It was so funny, in the next turn you’re turning to face the grandstands, and I was trying to kick dirt loose from the brake pedal, and I was looking at the fans, and they all were yelling a screaming, because they realized I had stalled. So that’s how I knew I had actually stalled it! When I got going, I ran faster lap times than the leader again. I really did feel like, coming into the race, I needed a little confidence boost, but even though it didn’t end well, I feel like I have that. The way I rode, up until the crash, I’m like ,“Hey, you still have it, Grant.”

What’s the injury status?

Well, as most people gathered, I was unconscious, I guess for two or three minutes. So what made it scary was, my orthopedic doctor and my wife were there, so they know me well, and they knew I would move my feet if I could. My wife said the doctors asked me to move my feet, and I didn’t say anything and I didn’t move my legs, either. Chelsie (wife) just kept asking me to move my feet, and I kept giving her this blank look, and I think that’s when people started assuming the worst. They thought I couldn’t move my legs, and I was scared. But really, I just didn’t even know what was going on. Then they started asking me what hurt, and I finally said my back and neck. So the combination of not moving my legs, and then saying my neck and back hurts, it was scary. All I can figure is, I’ve had concussions before, but every other one I’ve had, you get hit from the front. This time I hit the back of my head. So it was a different reaction than I normally have with a concussion. Usually when I have a concussion, I am frustrated, sometimes I’m even crying when I wake up, because I can’t tell where I am and that’s so frustrating. So I guess I hit a different way and just reacted strange. So I want people to know it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

  • Langston says he felt better at Daytona than any other race this year. Until he crashed, at least!
Obviously, I appreciate them red flagging the race, and I have to thank Davi Millsaps and Kyle Chisholm, because they did everything in their power to avoid me when I crashed. And the doctors did everything in their power to make sure I was safe.

So you don’t have any major back or neck injuries. That’s good. And you said a lot of people showed a lot of concern.
It’s been incredible. A lot of friends and fans around the world didn’t get to see it, they heard about it, and the concern was that I wasn’t moving my legs. Obviously, that’s the biggest injury fear you can have. And you know, I have taken some hits before, and you think I should stop putting myself through this, but in some crazy way, I am more motivated than ever know! All year I haven’t been racing, I’ve just been trying to get through it, not get arm pump, whatever. This was the first race where I was looking for a good start and trying to get on the podium. I didn’t get it done, so I have full respect to any of the guys who did it, but I was excited to be racing, and that’s what I love about the sport so much, being able to be competitive. And also, how much people care. It brings a tear to my eye, to hear grown men tell me that they were really scared and worried, and how emotional everyone was. I want to thank everyone for the support. I saw on TV that I waved to the fans, but I don’t even remember doing that! I guess it’s just the natural reaction. When a race gets red flagged, you assume the worst. I feel the most for my wife. Any time I’ve been hurt before, I’m always telling her I’m okay and don’t worry. I’m the father and husband, so I’m just going to always tell everyone I have it sorted, even if I don’t. We’ve been together eight years now, and this was the first time that she has probably seen me look scared, so she was scared, and it was weird because she had to try to stay calm so she wouldn’t scare me even more. She had to call her mom and tell them to turn off the TV, because there was a slight time delay, and my kids were watching. Now my daughter is asking me if she can watch the race, so we watched it today, and she’s okay, just saying “silly daddy, you made a mistake and fell down.”

When did you put it all together and realize you were going to be okay?

Well, I kind of remember people talking to me in the hospital, but it felt like I was in bed with my eyes closed. And no one was asking me if I could move my feet anymore, so I guess they already knew I was okay!

And obviously you’re not racing this weekend.

I couldn’t race this weekend even if I wanted to. I had a concussion, and I have a contusion to my lungs, so I was coughing up some blood. My sternum and ribs hurt, so when I finally went to sleep, I had to sleep sitting up in a chair in my motorhome. Also, I jammed my wrist because I was panic revving, and my arm hurts, too, and I have a contusion on my left quad. The worst part is, the knee I had surgery on last year, it has been bothering me all year, and now it’s massive and blue, so I need an MRI. I think that’s going to be the big question mark right now as to when I can come back. I also have some whiplash. Hey, I hit my manparts into the gas tank so hard, it’s so swelled up down there, it looks like I’m taking Viagra! Honestly, I’ve never hurt so bad all over and not had a major injury. I think everything hurts except my feet! But I just want everyone to know I will be back, and I can’t wait to be back. Just don’t know when yet.

Anyone else you want to thank?
First off, thanks to the team, we have a great group of guys. Certain people don’t get the credit they deserve, because there’s been some controversy around this team in the past, and maybe some guys get the cold shoulder because of it. But the mechanics and team manager work really hard. And Jason (Lawrence) sent me a long text, it was an emotional side of him like I’ve never seen in my life. He was very concerned. It’s been great seeing him mature as a person this year. Also the Yamaha guys, they were all at the hospital with me, Jim Perry, Keith McCarty, Dan Rambert, my mechanic Massa, Chris McAvoy my team manager, they were all there. And I have to just thank the fans for making me feel so emotional. I had my sister post a little update on my Facebook page, and the outpouring was incredible. It was so inspirational, it was overwhelming. I want to thank the officials, friends, family, friends, doctors, the fans, everyone for their support. Just want everyone to know I will be fine and I will be racing soon.

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