IndyCar driver Rinus VeeKay injured in cycling accident; Road America status uncertain

IndyCar Rinus VeeKay injured
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Rinus VeeKay has been injured in a cycling accident, and his status for IndyCar’s race at Road America this weekend is uncertain, Ed Carpenter Racing said Tuesday.

The team said VeeKay, 20, was being treated for a clavicle injury by IndyCar’s medical staff. A statement said VeeKay was injured the day before on a cycling trail during a training ride.

“VeeKay is in good spirits and has no other injuries,” the team said. No other details were released.

VeeKay posted a photo Monday of himself cycling alongside his trainer captioned “Riding to Chicago.” He had finished second Saturday at Belle Isle in Detroit, then 18th when a penalty spoiled Sunday’s race after VeeKay had qualified third.

The Dutchman is one of IndyCar’s four breakout stars this season and picked up his first career victory last month on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He then qualified on the front row for the Indy 500 and led 32 laps before finishing eighth.

VeeKay, last year’s rookie of the year, is fifth in the IndyCar standings and one of four first-time winners this season. He is also among a group of four IndyCar race winners this year aged 24 or younger.

VeeKay has won fans through his on-track performance and off-track engagement. He did a disco-style spin in driver introductions before his Indy 500 debut a year ago – showmanship aired only on television as the race was held without spectators – and it’s become his signature move.

Born Rinus van Kalmthout, he shortened his last name first to just VK and then VeeKay to help court sponsorship to fund his career. He found it was too difficult to use his full last name when calling potential partners in the United States.

He’s the only driver to win at every level of the Road to Indy ladder – six races in Indy Lights in 2019, seven races and the Indy Pro 2000 championship in 2018 and three races in USF2000 in 2017. VeeKay is mentored by two-time Indy 500 winner and fellow Dutchman Arie Luyendyk.

Though he lived on Main Street in Speedway across the street from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and rode his bike to work each day, he loaded up a Penske Truck Rental two days after this year’s Indy 500 and moved to Florida.

VeeKay told The Associated Press last weekend in Detroit the move was in part to relocate to a state where he could train outdoors year-round, but it also was his first true independent decision since relocating to the U.S. as a teenager.

He took pride showing videos of his two-bedroom apartment in a Fort Lauderdale high rise, and he said he didn’t ask for a discount when renting the moving truck from the company owned by IndyCar and IMS owner Roger Penske.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.