Former NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel climbed back behind the wheel of a race car, more than two years after a crash that left him paralyzed.
Together with two retired Marine Corps veterans who lost their legs in IED explosions, Hmiel drove an adapted Grand Am stock car on Saturday at Rockingham Speedway’s Race to the Rock using only his right hand.
“I just drove a racecar. I just ran well over a hundred miles — average speed,” Hmiel was quoted as saying by USA Today after the event. 32-year-old Hmiel has been paralyzed since a terrible crash during a United States Auto Club Silver Crown race at Terre Haute, Indiana, on October 9, 2010.
At the time, doctors told Hmiel he had a 10 percent chance to live and that he would never walk or breathe on his own again. After nearly 40 days in a coma, he was close to death, but he defied the odds and persevered. Two years after the crash he’s been rewarded with another chance to return to the sport he loves through Accessible Racing, a program that helps disabled individuals rediscover their capabilities.
“I just think it’s pretty amazing for the people at Accessible Racing to build a car and put something together and put programs like this together for people like me and wounded veterans,” Hmiel said.