Ken Tietz: Back to Victory Lane Eight Years After Bad Wreck

Ken Tietz: Back to Victory Lane Eight Years After Bad Wreck

It’s been a long road for Ken Tietz. Eight years ago, a violent wreck left him seriously injured. This past Sunday, at the same track as the bad accident, he won the IMCA stock car feature at Redwood Speedway in Redwood Falls, Minnesota.

Tietz took his time recovering from the crash. He had broken his pelvis, femur and six ribs.

“People thought I was afraid to race again,” Tietz, of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, said. “I was not afraid — I was more afraid of looking like a fool. The thought of the crash never entered my mind when I was racing on Sunday night.”

He still vividly remembers the wreck, though, but rarely talks about it.

“I was going into turn one full speed,” said Tietz. “The left-rear trailing arm broke. That caused the car to immediately make a right-hand turn. It started rolling over. It then went high in the air — 25 feet — and hit the ground violently.”

Tietz sat in a full-containment seat from The Joie of Seating, paired with a Simpson five-point harness. He wore a Simpson helmet and a HANS device.

“After the first impact, the seat bent an inch or two,” Tietz said. “On the second impact, the car hit right front first. I remember hearing a crack. I thought it was my back, but it was probably my ribs.”

Tietz felt that the safety equipment did its job well. That equipment included his car, which B & B Racing Chassis built.

“The cage had 10 inches of diagonal twist in it,” said Tietz. “Not many cars or drivers could survive such a violent wreck.”

After recovering from the wreck, Tietz mentored other drivers, staying involved in the sport and keeping up on technology. He returned to the seat of a stock car last year.

“I struggled for the first couple of weeks out,” Tietz said. “You have to get comfortable in what you are doing as a driver and what your car is doing. Getting the rust off of the driver is the big thing.”

Ken Tietz felt he finally returned to his former championship form last Sunday at Redwood Speedway.

“I had good people along the way getting me here, to victory lane, on Sunday,” said Tietz. “My girlfriend, Jenny; racers Chad and Jonathan Schroeder; and Paul Burger, of B&B Racing Chassis, were the big four behind my comeback. They wanted me to return to racing — they pushed me but pushed me gently. They let me work within my own timeframe.

“I got lots of positive feedback [after the win]. People were glad to see me back. I’m glad to be back.”