Posted (05/09/2011) -
ALTON, Va.—Some team owners spend their off-seasons on vacation, or making plans for the following season. RSR Motorsports team owner and driver Randall Smalley spent his 2010-2011 off-season dealing with bladder cancer.
This weekend at Virginia International Raceway, Smalley will celebrate his complete recovery by co-driving the No. 197 MINI Cooper S in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race. The car and the team are sponsored by Cruise America, Thor Motor Coach, US LED and Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers.
Smalley first realized something was wrong during an RSR Motorsports winter test at Road America. He went immediately to the doctor, who diagnosed him with bladder cancer. Surgery followed suit, and Smalley had to go through a recovery process after the surgery as his body healed.
Smalley has since become an advocate for bladder cancer awareness. Like most cancers, it is very curable when caught early. “I had never heard of bladder cancer when I was diagnosed. I consider myself very lucky and hope to spread that luck through knowledge and awareness,” Smalley says.
Since that time, Smalley has only been behind the wheel of an RSR Motorsports MINI Cooper S twice: he was a last-minute fill-in at Homestead Miami-Speedway after VJ Mirzayan’s teammate became ill, and he drove several laps in a test at Barber Motorsports Park. Smalley doesn’t count the Homestead race as a comeback: he spent as short a time as possible in the car, turning the controls over to Mirzayan during an early caution.
But now, with his strength and stamina back to normal, Smalley is ready to give it his all at Virginia International Raceway. “This is the culmination of my recovery,” says Smalley, who will co-drive the No. 197 with Chris Sarian. “I’ve been out of the car for a long time, but those test laps I drove at Barber felt really good.”
Smalley wasn’t the only one undergoing “modifications” during the off-season. The car he and Sarian are driving was completely rebuilt during the winter months, and this weekend marks its 2011 season debut.
“We’ve made some dramatic changes to that car. It’s like a test-mobile,” jokes Smalley. “That car was a front runner last year, and I’m glad it’s going to be on the track again.”
The rest of the RSR Motorsports lineup includes Owen Trinkler and Sarah Cattaneo in the No. 198, VJ Mirzayan and Dicky Riegel in the No. 195, and Ron Farmer and Jason Hart in the No. 196 US LED MINI Cooper S.
Look for the four RSR Motorsports MINI Cooper S entries in the ST class of the Bosch Engineering 200 on Saturday, May 14. The 2.5-hour race begins at 11:15 a.m. ET. Keep up with the team online at www.RSRMotorsports.com.
RSR Motorsports is sponsored by Cruise America, Thor Motor Coach, US LED, MINI USA, Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers, Performance Friction Rotors, OS Giken Racing Clutches and Limited Slip Differentials, Midway Ford Truck Sales, Mini North Scottsdale, Performance Speed Tech, and Carbotech Pads.
ABOUT BLADDER CANCER
Cancer of the urinary bladder develops in over 70,000 Americans each year, leading to over 14,000 deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, the chance of a man developing this cancer at any time during his life is about one in 30; for a woman, the chance is one in 90. Since bladder cancer that is detected in the early stages has a good chance of cure, awareness of the signs and symptoms of this malignancy are critical. Anyone experiencing the signs or symptoms of bladder cancer should be checked by a urologist, who can perform tests to diagnose bladder cancer even in its early stages.
Typical risks and signs of bladder cancer:
• Male, over 50
• Current or former smoker
• Exposure to various chemicals
• Blood in your urine or semen
• A lump in your abdomen
• Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
• Pain in your side or lower back
• Changes in urination (inability, frequency, pain, less output, incontinence)
• Feeling the need to urinate without results
• Sensation that the bladder is not completely empty after urinating
• Trouble starting or holding back urination
• A weak or interrupted flow