Gaston Vazquez suffered spinal injuries and multiple fractured vertebrae in a frightening accident during Saturday’s Baja 400, necessitating an airlift to hospital and surgeries. As his recovery continues, his team has launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to pay for his medical expenses.
Vazquez was competing on the #441X Pro Moto 40 team led by Alirio Amado when he crashed at the 350-mile mark. David Smith, a bike rider in the Pro Moto 30 category, and his #319X stable were the first to reach Vazquez and call for help; Smith got nineteen minutes and three seconds removed from his total time for helping a fellow competitor. Following Vazquez’s crash, Amado continued the race in tribute and finished third in class.
SCORE International summoned a helicopter to evacuate Vazquez, during which chase crews reported he had no movement below his neck but was “maintaining his own airway.” After being taken to a hospital in Ensenada, he was transferred to another facility to undergo emergency surgery for his spinal cord on Sunday, which was successfully completed. By Tuesday, he remains in the intensive care unit but is recovering.
Jim Jaros, one of his #441X team-mates, opened a GoFundMe on Tuesday night with the goal of generating USD$10,000 (€9,358.55).
“I thought there seems to be no better use of Gofundme than a situation such as this for such a good man that will have a long road to recovery,” wrote Jaros. “If you can find it in your heart to donate, every little bit counts and we all know there are times in life where we don’t WANT to ask for help but we need to. Gaston is not the type to ask so figured I would do it for him. Thank you in advance for any consideration given.”
As of this article’s publication, the fundraiser has raised over $2,100. Trophy Truck driver Andy McMillin has the largest donation so far at $500; McMillin provided a request for medical aid during the race, earning him thirty-three seconds in time credits.
“Baja is more than a race. The competitors are like family,” McMillin stated. “I believe the time credit I received was when we were the first truck to Gaston late in the race. It broke my heart watching the other 2 Moto riders move him off the course. We called it in immediately and it was sitting heavy on us as we kept racing.”
Vazquez, a father of four and high school teacher when not racing, won the Pro Moto 40 division with the #441X team at the San Felipe 250 and Baja 500.