On Saturday, Jason Priestley told MSNBC that, despite having raced for 10 years, some drivers still see him as a Hollywood dilettante. ”I just have to work hard to earn other drivers’ respect,” he said. ”The best way to get other drivers’ respect is to beat them. I work very hard to prove people wrong.” The next day, however, Priestley crashed his car in a pre-race accident at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., and was hospitalized with a fractured spine, a concussion, a broken nose, and fractured feet, according to published reports.
Reports say that witnesses saw the former ”Beverly Hills, 90210” star hit a patch of oil-dry pellets that had been spread to absorb another car’s leak. Drivers had been warned to steer clear of the pellets, but Priestley reportedly hit the patch and skidded into both the inner and outer walls of the track. He was airlifted to the University of Kentucky hospital in Lexington.
Doctors there said that the 32-year-old’s condition was serious but stable. Despite a fractured vertebra, there was no sign of paralysis. ”We have no indication from any of the scans that he’s had that he has any further damage to his head,” Indy Racing League medical director Henry Bock told the Associated Press. ”He has his eyes open, he looks around and will follow commands.”
Priestley has been involved in several injurious crashes. In April, he crashed a powerboat during a Miami race, leaving one of his crew members with cracked ribs. In 1999, he totaled a Porsche in a Hollywood crash that broke a friend’s arm. (He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge and completed an alcohol counseling program.) In 1995, he drove a car into a ditch during a race in Olympia, Wash., but he pulled out and finished the race.