Sabré Cook is one of motorsports rising stars, an American racecar driver and mechanical engineer working with Shift Up Now and racing in several open wheel and GT championships. While racing in the W Series at the Red Bull Ring in Austria in 2021, two competitors’ cars collided into the side of hers and she suffered a labral tear in her right hip and injuries to her low back and SI joint.
“I could not walk on my right leg after the race, and at the time, I thought I had a bad muscle cramp – it will get better. It did not get better,” Cook says.
She continued to drive in the series for several more races(!!), but competitive spirit alone could not overcome her injuries. “One day, I just could not bend down to tie my shoes. When I look back, it was not the smartest decision to try and continue to keep pushing through it, but at the time I did not realize how bad the damage was. I knew I was in pain; I knew it was not great, but whether I wanted to accept it or not, I was injured and needed to see the right people to get it taken care of.”
Cook headed back to the States and made the move to Indianapolis to be closer to the Racing Capital of the World. The team at Shift Up Now pointed her toward OrthoIndy after her accident. It was here where she found out she would need surgery to fix the pain.
Shift Up Now is managed by a team of female racers, including former IndyCar driver Pippa Mann. “It’s a collective of female racing drivers, and they are able to help us with small travel funds and budgets here and there to keep us in the seat.” Cook explains. “We get placed with a team, and then Shift Up Now will support us in whatever races we desire to do. It is nice because they are not limiting us to anything specific. They want to fund us with whatever our dreams are, whatever we want to go drive.”
Because of the extent of her injuries, Cook was seen by three separate OrthoIndy physicians: Dr. Kevin O’Neill and Dr. Mark Osborne for her back pain, and Dr. Troy Roberson for her hip. “Having those three that knew everything about their own expertise and being able to work together with the collective that OrthoIndy has created was so valuable to me because then it could all be treated in conjunction.” Cook says. “I was able to recover at a much faster pace than having to be treated for one and then be treated for the other.”
“Sabre’s situation was not uncommon in that we needed to collaborate to separate out what symptoms were coming from where,” says Dr. Troy Roberson, “It became clear that much of her pain was related to the hip itself – and through the compensation from that there were downstream effects that caused the other pain to her back. We discussed a plan to address her hip pathology with hip arthroscopy, which is a surgical procedure that allows doctors to view the hip joint without making a large incision. This lead to the expectation that the downstream effects from the back could then be better addressed with conservative treatment.”
The surgery went well, but it came with a long recovery process. “The doctors gave me these sheets, which, as an engineer, I love because it was like instructions. This is what you can and cannot do. For someone like me, I liked that it was black and white – this is what you need to do to get where you need to go.” However, nowhere on those sheets of paper did it say Cook could not still be involved on the team. “Once I was off crutches, I was back into it and, obviously, really committed to my physical therapy, but I did go work as an engineer while I could not be in as a driver. I also worked as a coach from the sidelines. I tried to stay involved in the motorsports industry regardless of the role I was playing.”
Cook said she was never fully worried about the injury being career-threatening, as so many injuries are. “There is always a worry, but I knew that people had done the surgery many times before and they have come back from it. There have been drivers that have had surgeries and come back from much worse and I would use them as inspirations. If they can come back from something that severe, I should be able to come back from my injury as well.”
And come back she did. On September 6th, Cook was cleared to race by Dr. Roberson. “I was nervous, I am not going to lie. I was not sure how much I was going to meet the criteria, if I was exactly where he expected me to be, and to my relief, he did give me the green light. He said I am cleared to get back into a race car.”
Cook immediately made an impact on her sport, winning the Kelly Moss Porsche Carrera Cup Shoot-Out for 2023. So next year, she will be the first female driver ever to compete in Carrera Cup North America. Talk about a speedy recovery.
“I want to say thank you to all my surgeons, my physiotherapists, my physical therapist, because without them, I would not be back in this seat and ready to get back into a race car.” Cook says. “So, a big thank you to them for putting me back into a place to chase my dreams once again!”
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