Instead of wrestling an IndyCar through a turn at over 200 mph, Sage Karam has spent the last few months wrestling with head locks, falls and pins.
While waiting to get back in a race car, Karam has been working with his father, Jody, as an assistant wrestling coach at Liberty (Pa.) High School.
It’s been a heck of a ride for father and son Karam. Jody helped lead Andrew Gunning to an undefeated 42-0 record and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s 3A title at 285 pounds, earning Liberty’s first wrestling championship title in 31 years (last being in 1985).
The elder Karam just wrapped up his 23rd season as Liberty’s head wrestling coach. Sitting next to him on the bench was Sage.
Dad didn’t cut son any slack, according to a story by Mark Wogenrich in The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Sage had to lead early morning workouts, sparred with wrestlers during training sessions and, as Wogenrich put it, “occasionally worked the nerves of both officials and his father.”
Karam will be back behind the wheel soon enough, driving for the Lexus team in the Weather Tech SportsCar Championship, as well as the Indianapolis 500 just over two months from now.
But returning to the world of grappling, falls, flips and tap outs helped energize Karam.
“The guys were making me laugh,” Sage Karam told Wogenrich. “I wasn’t laughing when I was by myself or at home, but when I got in the wrestling room, I was able to sweat a little bit, bleed a little bit and laugh a little bit with them. They got my mind in a different place instead of the dark side.”
Karam still deals with the dark side, namely last year’s IndyCar race at Pocono, where debris from his wrecked car flew into the car of fellow driver Justin Wilson.
Wilson died the next day from his injuries.
Karam admitted he went through “a really, really tough time” for several months after the tragedy. Sensing a change would do his son good, Jody Karam asked Sage to come home to help out with the same team he used to wrestle for himself during his high school days.
The elder Karam felt it would be good therapy for his son, who could continue his offseason racing training regimen at the same time.
“After the accident at Pocono, I felt that Sage didn’t need to sit in Indy by himself,” Jody Karam told The Morning Call. “The best way to overcome that was to give back, and he’s been giving back to our program ever since.”
Added Sage Karam, “Obviously, racing is my first love. If it were up to me, I’d be in a race car every single day of my life. But wrestling is my second love, and hanging out with my dad, there’s nothing better than that.”
Click here to read Wogenrich’s full story on father and son Karam.