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Riverhead Raceway: Bader lends healing hands between races

Rob Bader Jr. isn't a superhero, he just plays one at Riverhead Raceway.

Taking checkered flags, helping to save lives - it's all in a day's work for the 25-year old Blunderbust racer from Holtsville.

Twice this season, Bader, a nurse at Brookhaven Hospital the past four years, has aided in emergencies. The first was when Modified driver Wayne Anderson suffered a heart attack in his trailer after the first race of the season, and the second was the very next week when chief steward Mike Cappiello was clipped by a car and broke both his legs.

"It's just instinct," Bader said in assisting both men. "Working in trauma, you don't have time to react."

The track always has an ambulance crew on hand, but it's always good to have an extra set of hands during emergencies. During the second incident, Bader wasn't even racing. Spectating with friends, he snapped into action when he saw Cappiello get hit.

"It's improvisation," Bader said. "It's kind of hectic and crazy when something happens."

Because of his background, one might think Bader would be a more cautious racer. Yet he said he never thinks about the danger on the track, because it would "take away from my edge." But he acknowledged he pays special attention to safety features in his car.

"I never think about [accidents], it makes you a different driver," he said. "Some people try to cut corners [with safety], but they do it in the wrong places. You only have one head and one body."

Bader's commitment to safety has taken nothing from his racing prowess, as just last week he won his fourth career Blunderbust race. He has three top-five finishes this season, and is sixth in the points race with 322.

And he leads all racers with two emergency assists.

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