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ON WISCONSIN : JS ONLINE : SPORTS : RACING : E-MAIL | PRINT THIS STORY

Krogh making lots of progress after crash at 'Mile'

Last Updated: June 29, 2000
Racing Beat
Dave Kallmann
Dave Kallmann

Life goes on.

Three-hundred-sixty-two days ago, we prayed for Jeff Krogh, fearing the brain injuries he suffered in a savage racing crash would take him from his wife and infant son.

To most of us, Krogh was a stranger.

Twenty-seven years old and from Idaho, of all places, Krogh was halfway through his second full year on the NASCAR Busch Series, another in a group of mostly anonymous young men struggling to make their way in an unforgiving business.

Had he not been hurt, few of us would have really even known who he was at that point in his racing career.

But racing fans are a caring bunch. Krogh's life-or-death struggle placed him at the forefront of the collective consciousness of people gathered at the Milwaukee Mile last July 4. Later in the week, as he began to respond, we breathed more easily; months later, our spirits were lifted by news that Krogh had emerged from his coma.

And then we sort of forgot about Jeff Krogh.

Competition continued. CART drivers Gonzalo Rodriguez and Greg Moore died in racing accidents. Championships were decided.

A brief off-season passed and racing resumed. The battles heated. Adam Petty lost his life in an accident not all that dissimilar to Krogh's.

To most of us, Krogh's recovery was old news.

To his family and friends, though, this is a story filled with good news. They are pleased, no, thrilled, with the progress Krogh has made during a year which none of them would have wanted to endure.

"He called out of the blue one day," said Paula Smith, a family friend and vice president of the Busch Series Ladies Association, recalling a day late last summer.

"He'd woken up and wanted to call and tell everybody. (Jeff's wife) Karla called and said, 'I've got someone who wants to talk to you,' and then put him on.

"One of the neatest things I've ever had happen to me was having him say hello."

Krogh spent time recovering and rehabilitating at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., the same facility that treated many victims of the Columbine High School shootings.

He went home at Christmastime and this spring regained his independence in the form of his driver's license. Krogh has gone back to work, too, at his family's business, Clearwater Forest Industries. (An attempt to reach him this week was unsuccessful.)

Krogh's speech is still affected somewhat, Smith said, and he remembers nothing from a two-month span that started when he arrived in Milwaukee. But he loves talking about racing.

"Every time you speak to him it's a little different; one time he's 100%, the next time he's 95%," Smith said. "But he's the same old Jeff. Jeff was always light-hearted and kidding around, and he's still got that sense of humor."

He'll understand, then, that we meant no offense when we went on without him.

Meet the drivers

Twenty-one of the drivers competing this week at the Mile, including Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie and points leader Jeff Green, are set to participate in an autograph session from 6 to 8 tonight at the All Star McDonald's at S. 76th St. and W. Rawson Ave.

Can't get enough?

For those whose thirst for NASCAR minor-league racing isn't quenched by the Busch Series/Truck Series weekend, there's always a quick trip to Lake Geneva Raceway on Saturday. The Re/Max Challenge Series Al Schill Jr. Memorial 150 is set for 8 p.m.

On top . . . for now

Roberto Moreno, making the best of his first decent full-time CART ride since the mid-'80s, moved into the series lead last weekend. But Moreno hasn't cleared space in his trophy case just yet.

"We can't think that way this early," he said. "In racing, if you take things for granted, you bring it to reality very soon. Racing has that power."

Not in my backyard

Detroit and three of its suburbs filed suit this week to block the construction of a track on the Michigan State Fairgrounds that could become the home for the CART Detroit Grand Prix and other races.

Testing success

Scott Goodyear "had a lot of fun" while turning the first Indy-car laps at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway this week at more than 140 mph. The three-quarters-mile oval will become the shortest track in the Indy Racing League when it joins the schedule in 2001.

On the tube

The National Hot Rod Association and ESPN/ESPN2 agreed on a TV package that will have same-day race telecasts and a weekly magazine show through 2005.

Lucky man

Philip Kranefuss, the biggest victim in a wild, 14-car accident in the American Speed Association race Saturday in Odessa, Mo., came through a series of flips and rolls and a midair hit with no significant injuries.

Second fiddle

It's not the World of Outlaws, exactly, but the Outlaws Gumout Series, the sprint-car series' first-year junior circuit, will make its first stop in the state Monday. Racing is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Raceway at Powercom Park in Beaver Dam.

Busted

Winston Cup driver Scott Pruett and his team were hit with penalties this week for an illegal liquid brake-cooling device found on their Ford over the weekend. Pruett and owner Cal Wells were docked 50 points in their respective standings and crew chief Joe Garone was fined $50,000.

Call Dave Kallmann at (414) 224-2537 or send e-mail to dkallman@onwis.com

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 30, 2000.


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