Earlier this year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he would pledge his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for study. The family of Fred Lorenzen, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015, soon announced that he had followed suit.
NASCAR on NBC reporter Nate Ryan spoke with Lorenzen’s daughter, Amanda Gardstrom, about her father’s career and how she believes his racing accidents impacted him in retirement. Lorenzen suffers from dementia that could be a symptom of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a neurodegenerative disease of the brain that has been found in professional athletes with repetitive head trauma.
“My brother and I knew something was wrong with his memory, he was starting to have little bit of a hard time walking,” Gardstrom said. “He was getting mad at little things and one minute later being happy.”
Lorenzen, 81, earned 26 Sprint Cup wins in a career that spanned from 1956 – 1972.
“Not too recently I talked to my dad just a little bit about what I kind of think is going on, ‘Would you ever want to donate your brain?'” Gardstrom said. “My dad surprises me all the time. He just looked at me, ‘Yeah, for sure, if it helps someone.’ “