Members of the racing industry are showing their support for DJ VanderLey, an engineer on the No. 98 Xfinity Series team at Stewart-Haas Racing. VanderLey sustained serious injuries during a race on September 22.
According to a Facebook post from VanderLey’s wife, Jordan, he was involved in an accident during a micro sprint Outlaw race at Texas Motor Speedway’s dirt track. He was airlifted to a hospital in Fort Worth, where he spent several hours in surgery. Jordan said that he has several fractured vertebrae and a spinal cord injury.
“I would consider him one of my closest friends,” Christopher Bell said about VanderLey to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. Bell didn’t compete in his micro sprint event on September 23 after spending the night in the hospital with VanderLey. “We met through the Truck Series. He was my engineer at [Kyle Busch Motorsports] in 2016, and then we stayed in touch. Yeah, we’re really good friends.”
Supporters Have Set Up GoFundMe Campaigns
There have been two GoFundMe campaigns set up to help with VanderLey’s medical bills. One has raised more than $19,000 as of September 24, taking it within reach of its $20,000 goal. The other has raised more than $31,000 to help offset the costs of the surgery and other treatment. This second campaign has a goal of $40,000.
The surgery is complete, but there is a long road ahead for the VanderLey family. There are still numerous visits to the doctor in the future, which will bring about added costs with food, hotel stays, and medical bills. Raising the money through GoFundMe will help offset some of these.
“The doctors have said this is one of the worst spinal injuries possible, but it is too soon to tell how we will heal,” Jordan wrote in a separate post. “People do heal and we believe in miracles, so we are asking that you continue to lift him in your prayers as we pray for our miracle. Daren Jon is the strongest person I know so I’m so hopeful. He has already shown his personality to me while still waking up from recovery.”
Several Teams & Drivers Showcased Their Support
There were several drivers that showed their support for VanderLey during the race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Riley Herbst, Noah Gragson, and multiple others ran special decals on their stock cars. They also used their media availabilities to continue talking about him.
“It’s definitely unfortunate,” Chase Briscoe said on September 24. “I hate that it happened to anybody but [for it] to hit that close to home has definitely been tough, I think, for me. I’ve had friends get hurt in the past running dirt stuff, but DJ’s probably the closest friend I’ve had that has had that happen.”
Briscoe continued and explained that he has been friends with VanderLey for quite some time. He sat in front of him on the plane to Bristol Motor Speedway, and he was texting with him two days prior to the accident. Briscoe added that he had plans to go and visit VanderLey in the hospital after completing practice and qualifying. He asked for people to continue to pray for the SHR engineer.