His season was not off to a very good start and he was hoping to pull out a top-ten finish and begin to turn his season around. But it was just not meant to be. On June 11th, 2010, with four laps remaining in the 38th Annual Keith Fleck Memorial/Miller 100 at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, IA, Jonathan Eilen hit the backstretch wall; not only ending his night, but his entire season.
Eilen was transported by ambulance to a local hospital. An MRI indicated that he had fractured his L3 vertebrae, had several broken ribs and bulging discs. After being in a lower back brace, under going physical therapy, and many doctor's appointments, Eilen is more than ready to hit the track in 2011.
Prior to the accident that night, while he felt something in the car, there was really no indication inside or outside that he or his crew felt required ending his night a few laps short. "I opted to stay on the track and hope for a top ten finish, the first of an already hard-going season. When the right rear tire blew, it sent my car into a spin and I hit the cement wall just perfectly (or imperfectly, depending on how you look at it). It was a enough to adjust the whole center of my Pathfinder Chassis," said Eilen.
Like most drivers, Jonathan was not going to admit that he was hurt, but after some questioning from the medics and convincing from his fiance', Krystle, he decided he had better get checked out. "Before I left the track, I really didn't think too much of the extent of my injuries. I just knew that I was in a lot of pain." After an entire night on a backboard and several inconclusive tests, it was finally determined on Sunday morning that Eilen had broke his lower (L3) vertebrae.
The long ride back to Hampton, MN was certainly not the most comfortable, but Eilen was happy to be home. It came as no surprise when he told Krystle that instead of going home, he wanted to stop at the shop first, regardless of how much pain he was in. "I needed to see the car!"
After taking a look at the car, Jonathan was in disbelief and thankful that his injuries were not more extensive. Joe Wood and Jason Schuler built the Pathfinder Chassis to do exactly what it needed to do; absorb the impact in order to protect the driver from further injury. Joe and Jason of Pathfinder Chassis, as well as everyone involved with the ASA Midwest Tour, take safety measures very seriously, and the fact that Eilen's injuries were not more serious, prove that they are working.
Race cars are not the only thing that Jonathan enjoys driving. Jonathan, along with his brother Pat, and father, Tom, make up Eilen and Son's Trucking. Jonathan puts many miles on the road day after day and week after week; something he loves and missed tremendously while recovering. Even though instructed to wait six weeks, Eilen jumped back in his truck after only three weeks. "Not being able to drive was driving me crazy. It took a couple weeks before I was able to do everything alone, but my co-workers were able to help whenever I needed it."
When asked what he missed most about not racing the remainder of the 2010 season, his response was simply...."Everything!" Eilen has been racing since he was 15 years old, so an entire summer without racing was something he was not used to. "Not only did I miss racing, but I missed seeing everyone with the ASAMT, the teams, and especially the fans," added Eilen.
Jonathan is back to doing everything he loves; driving his truck, working on cars, and even snowmobiling. In late October, after getting the okay from his doctors, Eilen had the opportunity to get his car out on the track. "Everything felt pretty good in the car. The true test will be the first race, but I am pretty confident that everything will go well."
"I am more excited than ever for this season. Having time off allowed me to make some new changes in areas I thought we could improve. I am pumped to see how well the changes affect how we do on and off the track. I am excited to be back racing with some of the best drivers in the Midwest and seeing everyone I have not seen in almost a year."
Jonathan will once again be an ASA Midwest Tour Swiss Colony Touring Star in 2011. He thanks everyone for all of their support, phone calls, text messages, emails, cards, and visitors during his recovery. "It truly shows what a great family the ASA Midwest Tour is. I can't wait to see everyone at MIS!"