INDIANAPOLIS -- Indy-car driver Roberto Guerrero, critically injured in a practice crash three weeks ago, should be released from a hospital within a week and is expected to be able to race again in about a year, doctors said Wednesday.
'I feel safe in saying Roberto will have a complete neurological recovery and he will be able to race again,' said Dr. Steve Olvey, assistant director of critical care at Methodist Hospital and medical director of the CART circuit.
Olvey said Guerrero could return to Indy-car competition 'by the end of next season,' adding, 'It could be earlier than that, but it's not likely.'
Guerrero, who was taken out of intensive care a week ago, was seen smiling and laughing Wednesday while being wheeled down a corridor in the hospital. Olvey said the Colombian driver's recovery has been remarkable since the Sept. 10 accident during the final lap of a practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The rear suspension in Guerrero's car broke, sending the car into the outer wall of the second turn. The right front tire came off on impact and struck Guerrero on the helmet, knocking him unconscious for about a week and causing fears of possible brain damage.
Olvey said it is unlikely Guerrero will ever remember the details of the accident. But Guerrero has recovered well enough to communicate coherently and Olvey said he is '95 percent able to take care of himself.'
'His reasoning is not impaired hardly at all,' Olvey said. 'It's a matter of him regaining the strength he had before -- which is coming back quite rapidly -- and coordination. He has surprised me with his level of coordination already.'
Katie Guerrero, the racer's wife, has watched him grow stronger mentally as well.
'The progress has been phenomenal,' she said. 'Every day he remembers more. He recognizes more people. He recognizes that he is a little foggy on some things, like what happened in the accident. He knows what happened but he doesn't remember the accident. There is that light in his eyes that I am so happy to see.'
She said Guerrero has already asked her when he can return to practice and added, 'He's definitely ready to get back in.'
She said never considered asking her husband to quit the sport because of his injuries.
'That's something that never even entered my mind -- him stopping,' she said. 'It's something that makes him so happy that I would never ask him to stop. It's something he lives for.'
Katie Guerrero admitted she would never feel the same about watching her husband race.
'He will have to strap me down to get in the car because I'll be more nervous than ever,' she said.
Guerrero finished second in this year's Indianapolis 500, losing his lead to eventual winner Al Unser Sr., when his engine stalled leaving the pits. He also placed second in 1984, when he shared rookie-of-the-year honors with Michael Andretti. Guerrero finished third in 1985 and fourth in 1986.