Racing4Vets Sponsored Injured Veterans Drive NASCAR with Shane Hmiel

On January 26, 2013 two Racing4Vets-sponsored injured veterans joined paralyzed former NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel on track in Accessible Racing’s adapted NASCAR stock car at Rockingham Speedway, NC.

Jessie and Cody checking out the Racing4Vets sponsored NASCARScout Sniper Jessie Fletcher USMC (ret) and Lance Corporal Cody Evans USMC (ret), both injured veterans from Walter Reed Medical Center who lost their legs in IED explosions, joined Shane Hmiel to drive the adapted NASCAR stock car at Rockingham.

Racing4Vets Shane Hmiel with Jessie Fletcher USMC and Cody Evans USMC

Shane, Jessie and Cody hanging out in the garage

The event was a combined effort between Accessible Racing, the Hmiel family, Racing4Vets, Petty Family Foundation, KOOKS Custom Headers, Goodyear Tire, Rick Ellison Racing, Rockingham Speedway and 3 Wide Life to give Shane, Cody and Jessie the opportunity to drive a V8 NASCAR.  For Cody and Jessie, it was their first time in a NASCAR stock car.  For Shane Hmiel, it was his first time back in a race car since his near-death USAC Sprint Car crash in 2010 at Terre Haute, IN.

Cody Evans Race to the Rock

Cody Evans driving a NASCAR stock car at Rockingham

First out on track was Cody Evans from Tennessee.  Alongside Cody was the veterans’ highly experienced driving instructor Scott Vien.  Cody ran several warm up laps, then let loose and set an average time of 95 mph around Rockingham’s 18 degree banking!

Scout Sniper Jessie Fletcher drives NASCAR at Rockingham Speedway

Scout Sniper Jessie Fletcher drives NASCAR at Rockingham

Jessie Fletcher from North Carolina (via upstate New York) got his shot in the NASCAR seat next.  Jessie used his USMC Scout Sniper skills to carefully assess all track conditions and identify the  right line, then pulled the trigger on the powerful NASCAR V8 motor, setting another near-95 mph average speed!

Shane Hmiel driving the Racing4Vets sponsored NASCAR at Rockingham

Shane Hmiel driving the Racing4Vets sponsored NASCAR at Rockingham

Next on track was Shane Hmiel the “wild child” of NASCAR before his near-death 2010 USAC Sprint Car crash.  This was Shane’s first time back in a race car since being paralyzed and spending nearly 2 years in rehabilitation.  As he ticked off the laps it was apparent he hadn’t lost his talent, setting an average speed over 100 mph next to his co-driver “Dynamite” Dave Dion.

The day was heavily covered by the national media, including SPEED, Fox Sports, 3 Wide Life, ESPN and local news stations in the Charlotte and Rockingham areas.  All three drivers were interviewed by the SPEED TV crew and the event was aired on SPEED NASCAR Race Hub the following week. Here are some links to major news coverage:

SPEED NASCAR Race Hub SPEED Nascar Race Hub video

 

ESPN Sprint Cup Racing4VetsESPN article  written by Marty Smith.

 

3 Wide Life3 Wide Life video

 

 

Motor Racing Network MRNMotor Racing Network article

 

Racing4Vets injured drivers at Rockingham

Racing4Vets injured drivers at Rockingham: Corey Fairbanks, Jessie Fletcher USMC (ret), Shane Hmiel, Cody Evans USMC (ret)

Overall the day was great fun and incredibly inspiring.  Shane Hmiel and injured veteran Marines Scout Sniper Jessie Fletcher and Lance Corporal Cody Evans proved that being injured isn’t a barrier when you’re determined to live a great life.

In the words of Accessible Racing’s co-founder Brian Hanaford, who lives with a traumatic brain injury himself, “There’s life after injury…you might need to do things a little different but this is a prime example of that.”

Racing4Vets injured veteran NASCAR drivers

Racing4Vets injured veteran NASCAR drivers enjoying the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racing4Vets would like to thank all involved:

United States Marine CorpsThe United States Marine Corps for fighting and sacrificing in Afghanistan and Iraq for the freedom of all Americans.  We owe you and all injured veterans our gratitude and continued support.

Rockingham SpeedwayRockingham Speedway, whose team pulled off a miraculous effort so the event could happen.  An intense ice storm passed through the night before, rendering the 1 mile Rockingham oval undriveable under an inch of slushy ice in the morning of January 26.  After four hours of ice-breaking, drying and some much-needed sunshine, Andy Hillenburg’s Rockingham team made the track conditions safe to drive.

Accessible RacingAccessible Racing, who organized the event, hauled the car over 2,000 miles round trip, provided two top-level NASCAR driving instructors, and worked with all involved to ensure a successful and safe event.

Petty Family FoundationThe Petty Family Foundation  who sponsored the event so two injured veterans and Shane Hmiel could experience the power and excitement of driving a NASCAR stock car.

KOOKS Custom HeadersKOOKS Custom Headers, strong supporters of U.S. military veterans who sponsored the event.

Rick Ellison RacingRick Ellison Racing and U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Rick Ellison (ret), who provided veteran outreach, sponsorship sales and event organization.

Goodyear TireGoodyear Tire, for providing the brand-new NASCAR race slicks with “Support Our Troops” on the sidewalls.

Drive MasterDrive Master, who built the adapted Accessible Racing NASCAR for Cody, Jessie and Shane to drive.

Michael Davis InsuranceMichael Davis Insurance who covered the event with professional motorsports insurance at a reasonable price.

Greenleafe Inn Pinebluff NCGreenleafe Inn in Pinebluff, NC for providing discounted hotel rooms for the entire Racing4Vets team.

 

3 Wide Life, SPEED Channel, NASCAR Race Hub, and ESPN for providing top quality national TV and online coverage of the event.  These were viewed and read by over 30 million Americans, bringing awareness to our disabled veterans’ true capabilities and the successes of disabled individuals such as Shane Hmiel who work hard to overcome their injuries, regardless of the setbacks they have had.