PORT ROYAL, Pa. – Kyle Moody didn’t think much of his lap-one wreck at Port Royal Speedway on July 4 in the final night of nine Pennsylvania Speedweek races.
Sure, it was a crummy end to an otherwise upbeat week for Moody and his team, but the incident that resulted in his mangled car needing a tow was an ordinary mishap.
Then Tuesday rolled around, and Moody felt all but ordinary. First came the light-headedness, followed by nausea, and then the diagnoses of a concussion suffered from that seemingly harmless wreck at Port Royal.
Now, Moody is sidelined for the foreseeable future and awaits a blueprint for recovery until his July 23 appointment with concussion expert Dr. Micky Collins, who has treated Dale Earnhardt Jr. along with many other professional athletes.
“It wasn’t a violent flip by any means, but I figured I hit my head at some point, whether it was on the back of my hans device or it just rattled around,” Moody said in a recent phone interview. “Tuesday, I definitely had the nausea feeling in my stomach that most people who have received a concussion know that’s a symptom. … Now, I just want to know what I’m feeling and what brain exercises I need to do.”
Moody visited his family doctor in Lewisberry, Pa. on Tuesday afternoon just to receive a baseline diagnosis amidst a hectic work week, where he learned he had a “concussion without loss of consciousness.” But Moody wasn’t 100 percent sold his symptoms were going to hold back the racer in him, so he worked late into the night on Wednesday and Thursday to prepare his car for Friday’s show at Williams Grove Speedway.
“Honestly, I was thinking I could just get through this week of racing and then take it easy on myself, and then rest up,” Moody said.
As soon as Moody geared up for heat in the motors on Friday, he began to feel dizzy, but pressed onward and took hot laps. After that, Moody knew going against the grain only caused more harm.
“I knew I shouldn’t have been out there,” Moody said. “I wasn’t 100 percent sold. I mean, I knew I had a concussion, but I wasn’t really confident in the situation. I’m a racer at heart, so I’m like, ‘let’s go race.’ But at Williams Grove, after jarring my head around, I couldn’t wait to get home and just turn the lights off.”
Restlessness throughout the night urged Moody to go in for another check up, this time at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning at UPMC Pinnacle West Shore.
“We’ve all gotten headaches, but this one was the worst, to the point where I knew I needed to get checked out again,” Moody said.
There he received medication to ease a vile headache and was basically told to rest and limit brain activity until he can visit a concussion specialist. Now, the light-headedness and nausea has been mostly replaced with extreme fogginess and uncertainty.
Moody said he’s had “two or three” documented concussions over the last five years and claims it’s taken him a week to two weeks until he returned to racing. But this one has thrown Moody a curveball and he’s taking more precautions and strides to better his well being than ever before.
“Symptom wise, I’ve never experienced it to this degree,” Moody said. “I definitely didn’t give [the previous concussions] the time they deserved, though. Not only that, but we all race February to November, so we don’t give our brains enough time to do what they really need until a point like this comes. I know Kevin Nouse and Ryan Smith, [central Pennsylvania racers who also had concussions], took months off. I’m hopeful that’s not my case, in a realistic view, if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes, you know?”
Moody will soon find out that timetable, if there ever is one with a concussion, when he visits Collins on Thursday, July 23, the same night the World of Outlaws visit his home track at Lincoln Speedway.
“The racer in me, if my concussion subsides, I’ll be back as soon as possible, but that still doesn’t tell you if your brain has healed or not,” Moody said. “At the end of the day, I need to know what works best for me. Given my history of hitting my head a couple times, I need to take these steps.”
Over this short period, Moody has already researched various headwear accessories and lighter helmets.
“The support from people that want to help and even upgrade and improve some of my safety gear has been incredible also,” Moody said.
In 2020, Moody entered 24 events in central Pennsylvania and qualified for 20 features, posting one podium finish and two top sixes. If there happens to be a long layoff until Moody can enter his 25th race, the No. 99M, which he and his wife own under Moody Motorsports LLC, is going to remain idle until the racer returns to full strength.
“As of now, it’s going to sit,” Moody said. “I believe I have enough supporters and sponsors around me that are on the same page with me.”
It’s tough timing for Moody, who has made vast strides with his young race team. Through three nights of Pennsylvania Speedweek, he sat in the top 10 of the points standings, with established teams like Brent Marks, Lucas Wolfe, and Anthony Macri not far ahead. And by the end of Speedweek, he ranked 14th in money earned.
“When I get income in, it’s not just to go racing, it’s to build up equipment to go racing,” Moody said. “We’re still in the building stages at Moody Motorsports. … It kind of sucks.”