HIBBING — It was an ordinary Friday, July 13, for John Kaanta at the track in Fergus Falls, or so he thought.
What happened that night left the Elk Mound, Wis., native badly hurt and in the hospital.
Kaanta was out of racing for over a month, but he made a triumphant return to the Labor Day Shootout Saturday at the Hibbing Raceway.
Kaanta went to open the door of his trailer and a latch on the inside, which keeps the door from falling down, came unhooked.
The trailer door came crashing down right on top of Kaanta, causing numerous injuries.
“When I unlocked it, the door just fell,” Kaanta said. “It’s heavy. It hit me on the way down. It hit my shoulder first, and broke my collarbone.Apparently when it landed, it landed on my leg and broke that.
“I ended up in the hospital there (Fergus Falls).”
Kaanta knew he was hurt, but how bad?
“They took me to the hospital, and what can you say?” Kaanta said. “You’re at the mercy of the injury. They patched me up pretty good there. A couple of days later, I went home and started the healing process.”
Kaanta, in 40 years of racing, has never had something like this happen to him.
“It was surprising,” he said. “You open and close those things about a 1,000 times. You don’t expect the hook to come unhooked. It was a lesson learned.”
Kaanta may have been hurt, but not once did he think his racing season was over.
“People break their legs all of the time,” he said. “This was my first time, so I knew that wasn’t going to be a deal breaker. I just didn’t know how long it was going to be.”
They told Kaanta that it would take about six to eight weeks to heal.
“The healing process has gone alright,” Kaanta said. “I had never had this before, so I had nothing to gauge it by, other than talking to other people. I’m starting my eighth week now, so I’m on course.
“I’m doing what I think my body will let me do. We’ll see what happens.”
Kaanta is in a walking boot right now, but as he enters his car for the first time since the accident, he takes that off before he gets into the car.
“It feels a little weird,” Kaanta said. “It’s like I’ve been out of the loop for so long (seven weeks), that it’s kind of like starting all over again. I have to get back into the swing of things, putting fuel in the car, get your helmet ready and all of that, things I haven’t done in awhile.
“It’s comfortable, but it’s weird. The walking cast won’t fit in the car, but once I get into the car, there’s really no pressure on the leg. That’s seems to be working alright. The only other thing — the shoulder — is taped.”
While he was sitting out, Kaanta said he had a lot of time to reflect on things.
“I’ll sit on the deck and drink coffee and watch the birds,” Kaanta said. “That’s all you can do. You watch it on the television, and you see people that are a lot more stressed than all ever think of being.
“You have to put things in perspective and say, ‘This is just a bump in the road. Thngs will be just fine.’”
The only other time Kaanta has been injured is when he fell off of the same trailer and broke his ribs.
“Maybe I have to get rid of this trailer,” Kaanta said.