Approval for my Pikes Peak entry came just a few days ago so I’ll be busy up to the race getting things ready and also updating the blog here at ML@S. In the meantime, I thought I’d give everyone some insight on how I’ve got to this point with a little race bio.
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Determination and motivation have defined my character since I was a child. At three years old I began racing dirt bikes, following the lead of my father, turning an interest into a passion.
Growing up a competitor has pushed me in all areas of my life. My competitive mindset developed through racing, cross-country, and track and field. As a racer, I began building skill and speed each year through events such as the Oklahoma State Motocross Series, Ponca City Qualifiers, and Regional Arenacross events.
Although mastering any new skill is a challenge, I faced obstacles that tested my drive and therefore honed my talents in order to create a profession. Beyond the struggles of learning new skills and increasing my speed and ability persistently I also faced the challenges of a temporary racing halt against my will. As I progressed through the 60cc classes and prepared to move up to the 80cc divisions, the untimely and unfortunate divorce of my parents meant that it was no longer feasible for me to race, therefore preventing me from making that next division.
Despite the disappointment in no longer racing motocross I continued to ride in my spare time and keep up with the sport as much as possible. It was during this period of my life that I began a whole new kind of competitive racing – cross country running and track and field. Throughout middle school and high school, I applied the same determination learned from early years of motocross and rapidly excelled in these sports. During my high school running career I was a part of a State Championship track team and I received All-State honors in track as well as cross country, and a personal state championship for the 3200m run. Towards the end of my high school years I had the financial ability to begin racing motocross again, this time in the 125cc divisions.
In 2005 I began a professional hill-climbing career on ATVs. This transition to a four-wheeled ATV was not extremely difficult, since I had ridden them recreationally from an early age. As a rookie, I demonstrated my competitiveness and determination through Colorado Hill Climb Association events and the prestigious Pikes Peak International Hill Climb where I raced against seasoned veterans. The years to follow provided much success and skill development. The end of the 2006 CHCA season brought a second place honor in overall points and a fourth place finish at Pikes Peak. The following year delivered even greater results. I purchased a motocross ATV, and started training and riding motocross in hopes to start a serious effort in Nationals as a privateer for 2008. I was gaining experience against other pros by seriously running motocross and supermoto events. I was leading the CHCA points championship and had the horsepower and skill necessary to potentially win at Pikes Peak.
It was then, on July 1, 2007 that I faced the largest and most impacting hurdle as a racer. An accident during the Gold Camp Hill Climb in Victor, CO propelled me into a life altering moment. My ATV and I left the race road at an estimated 80-90mph over a rocky cliff edge. That day I left the race empty handed, but I got more than I bargained for, a broken neck. A break at the C6 and C7 vertebrae and a spinal cord injury changed my life forever. After waking up in a new world my physical ability, emotional stability, sanity and willpower were all pushed to the apex.
This injury, devastating to say the least, provided me with the lifelong opportunity to prove myself as a competitor. From day one I kept a positive attitude to fight through this major set back. My relentless dedication to succeed in all areas has pushed me forward day by day. On the one-year anniversary of my accident I loaded up in the co-driver’s seat of a few rally cars and attacked the Gold Camp Hill Climb in a sort of redemption run. For me, it symbolized my ability to conquer obstacles in other ways and it opened up the possibilities for me to pursue a racing career in a different form yet again. The next year I became the first quadriplegic competitor, as a co-driver, in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In the years 2009-2011 I have been the co-driver for Ken Stouffer and the Fatman Racing Team, running a 240SX in the Time Attack class. While I enjoy co-driving, I’ve wanted to be able to be in full control and operate a race vehicle myself. I want to show that no matter the obstacles one encounters, if the drive and determination are available, life’s unique challenges may be overcome.
Although every challenge I accept is a competition against myself, my ability to overcome my hindrances will be beneficial for not only myself, but for other people facing struggles of their own. I will be an example of hard work, willpower, determination and faith for those who have ambitions that appear out of reach, then my struggles and immense hard work have been worth every minute.
On July 8, 2012 I’ll become the first quadriplegic driver to race, in the driver’s seat, the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. I can’t describe how awesome that thought makes me feel. That day will be just seven days after the 5-year anniversary of my injury and also a huge milestone in showing just how far I’ve come since that point.
Since we got a late approval to race, we are in crunch time mode finishing a custom Polaris RZR XP. Big thanks go out all involved in getting this project going: Ken Stouffer, John Stallworth & JSR Performance, Stewarts ATV & Buggy, Chris Nazarenus, Greg Tracy, Rick Beets, My Life at Speed, Mike Tollett & Tollett Racing. This list will grow as more sponsors and help join the team for our historic run!