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Stock Car Racer Jim Robinson Remains 'Very Critical'

February 10, 1988

Jim Robinson of North Hollywood, one of Southern California's most successful stock car drivers, remained in a coma and "very critical condition" Tuesday with head injuries suffered in a race accident Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Debra Gelbart, a spokesperson at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, said Robinson's breathing was being assisted by respirator and that there had been no significant change in his condition since Sunday.

"There has been no surgery and none is planned," she said.

Jim Petano, who works at Robinson's auto repair shop in North Hollywood, said Tuesday, "our only optimism is based on the fact that Jim wasn't given much chance Sunday and now he's made it through two nights."

A former modified champion at Saugus Speedway, Robinson, 42, won NASCAR's Winston West series in 1983, '84 and '85 and is second in career earnings from that series with $318,000.

He was driving a Pontiac Trans-Am owned by Dave Jackson of San Fernando in Sunday's 40-lap stock car phase of the 11th annual $145,000 Copper World auto races.

Robinson, who had driven the car in previous races at the Phoenix track, had won the pole position in Saturday's qualifying and led the race through eight laps when Gary Collins of Bakersfield, the 1986 and '87 Copper World champion, moved up to challenge for the lead on Turn 2 of the ninth lap.

Although the accounts of what transpired vary, there was apparently light contact, track spokesman Steve Des Georges said, and Robinson spun into the wall, crashing flush on the driver's side.

The car was demolished, Des Georges said, and the jaws of life were needed to remove Robinson, who was taken by helicopter to the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital. The race was delayed 55 minutes because of the accident, Des Georges said. Said Petano: "From what I'm told, Jim's head may have hit both the roll bar and the wall. His helmet was cracked."

Robinson began his driving career in New Mexico and moved to Southern California in the mid-1970s, NASCAR publicist Owen Kern said. He had been scheduled to leave for Australia Feb. 20 to compete in a NASCAR-sponsored Challenge Cup series between the United States and Australia. His mother, Vivian Bradley of Clovis, N.M., and his two daughters, Brenna and Glenna, of Sylmar, were in attendance at Sunday's race, Petano said. His former wife, Ouida, flew to Phoenix after learning of the accident Sunday.

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