Young racer healed, ready to roll

Larry Woody • Feb 26, 2018 at 3:47 PM

They say you don’t know how much you enjoy something until you lose it.

Young Hartsville racer Garrett Dies says that definitely applies to his stock car racing.

Last spring just as he was getting ready to break the seal on a new season he broke his leg in an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) accident that sidelined him for the year.

“It was tough, having to sit out like that,” says Garrett, a Trousdale County High sophomore.

“It gives you time to think about things and to appreciate what you’ve got. I never realized how much I’d miss racing until I wasn’t able to do it.”

Garrett didn’t attend many races after his injury, explaining:

“I’m not cut out to be a spectator. It was too hard watching other drivers race and not be able to be out there with them.”

Now he’s mended, and eager to climb back in his car and make up for lost time.

“We’ve got a car ready to go and I can’t wait to get started,” says Garrett, who this season will compete in the premier Pro Late Model division at Highland Rim Speedway.

Garrett, the track’s 2016 Rookie of the Year in the Pro 4s series, says he has a lot of catching up to do. After missing the entire season last year, he will have to regain the feel of the wheel, plus adapt to a whole new division.

“The Pro Late Model car will take some getting used to,” he says. “I can use all the practice I can get.”

Several area drivers are expected to compete at the Ridgetop track, where Lebanon’s Hunter Wright in the defending Legends champ.

“I enjoy racing at the Rim,” Garrett says. “It’s a small track, and that always makes for good, close racing. In addition to racing there, I hope to venture out and run some other tracks this year. We don’t have our final plans completed yet.”

A driver Garrett would like to emulate is Timothy Peters, who made a name for himself in the NASCAR truck series.

“My dad knows Timothy and that’s how I met him,” he says. “At first I was a fan, and then as I got to know him better I liked him even more as a person. He’s humble, and a good driver.”

Garrett, who began racing Quarter-Midgets at age eight, appreciates the irony of his ATV accident: in all those years of driving race cars he’d never got a scratch, then was seriously injured playing around on a four-wheeler in a field behind his house.

“I was lucky I didn’t get hurt even worse,” Garrett says in recalling his Easter Sunday crash. “A friend was video-taping me when I wrecked, and when I look at the video it’s scary to see how close I came to getting hit in the head.”

Garrett’s dad Roy, a retired diver who assists his son with his racing venture, agrees:

“The day we took Garrett to Vanderbilt Hospital there were nine other people there who had been in ATV accidents,” he says. “Seven of them had head injuries, and we learned later that one didn’t survive.”

He adds: “We lost a racing season but we didn’t lose a son, and that’s that matters.”

Roy understands his son’s passion for the sport. He raced from 1987 to 2001 at Nashville's Fairgrounds Speedway, Beech Bend, and Highland Rim.

"I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun," Roy says, "but I get a bigger kick out of watching Garrett race than I got from my own racing."

Garrett says his mom Ann shares that father/son enthusiasm, although "she gets kinda nervous when she watches me race."

As for his future ATV riding?

“I haven’t been back on one since my accident,” Garrett says. “I’ll probably start riding again at some point, but not yet.”

He adds with a laugh:

“For now, I’ll stick to race tracks, where it’s safe.”

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