For nearly a month last year Felix Sabates was at death’s door.
The fears were so great that Sabates might not wake up from a coma he spent 29 days in, Chip Ganassi bought a blue suit for the possibility he might have to attend his co-owner’s funeral.
But the 71-year-old made a full recovery through a rehab process that included learning to walk again.
NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Sabates have a special relationship. Petty drove the No. 42 car for Sabates’ SABCO Racing for eight years in the 1980s and 1990s, winning six of his eight Cup races for the millionaire owner from Cuba.
Sabates sat down with Petty to discuss his life in Cuba before immigrating to the United States and his ordeal last year, which began in January when Sabates began feeling ill during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“I came home and woke up the next morning and I (couldn’t) breath,” said Sabates, who drove himself to the hospital. “The minute they saw me I was in intensive care.”
Sabates was in the hospital for two-and-a-half weeks before he was released, but Sabates “should’ve know I wasn’t cured.”
The Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner returned to his usual grind until it caught up to him in August.
“My blood pressure was through the roof, my oxygen level was 55, which you should be dead then,” recalled Sabates, who has no memory of a three-month stretch. “They thought was I was brain-dead. They were pretty much going to disconnect me. So 4 o’clock in the morning, they took my tubes out.”
That’s when Sabates began the process of waking up.
“I’m lucky to be here,” said Sabates, who aside from being back at the track is also back to playing golf.
“I used to worry about little things,’ Sabates said. “Now I don’t even worry about big things.”
Watch the above video for the full feature.