“Live as if you die tomorrow, dream as if you’ll live forever” is the favorite quote of Chris Hrabik, a C5-6 quad from Sedgewickville, Mo., who surprisingly was not born with the need for speed. You’d think he was, since he’s the first quadriplegic performance stage rally racer in the U.S., but his desire to race came after his injury.
Chris was injured 10 years ago when he was just 18, in a 25 mph rollover in his truck while teaching his girlfriend how to drive a stick. He crushed his fifth and sixth vertebrae and spent the next five years trying to figure out what to do with his life. While in rehab, inspirational speakers came to talk with him, but none gave him the inspiration he really needed.
Driven to prove to everyone his disability wasn’t about to limit him, he set his eyes on becoming a rally race driver after attending a rally race in 2008. It didn’t happen overnight, of course. It took him five years to get to the point where he was ready to race.
In fact, it took a lot of sweat, tears and several cans of welding gas — luckily he has near normal use of his right hand. Chris first decided to start a metal art company, after creating a metal sunflower sculpture for a family member, which also gave him the boost he needed to finally begin modifying his Subaru Impreza.
Chris chose a 1997 Subaru Impreza as his car for rally racing because it didn’t need a lot of modifications. It just needed a few minor adjustments so he could fit his wheelchair in the car, plus hand controls and a ratchet shifter (automatic).
The car was $700 and he put $11,000 into it to make it ready for its first rally race. When Chris took part in his very first rally race last year, he had no designs to win — he just wanted to participate. He placed 15 out of 23, which definitely isn’t bad for your first race.
Last month, Chris raced in the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, and he placed seventh. He says being able to compete is all that matters to him, and I think I believe him. Rally racing is without question a labor of love for Chris.
Chris also decided to create a documentary that will show all of the cool things you can still do as a wheelchair-user: Fishing, kayaking, skiing, quad rugby, racing of course, skydiving, etc. You name it, Chris wants to do it and include in his documentary, which will be called The Limitless Project.
The director of this film launched a Kickstarter project last January to complete the film, but unfortunately they didn’t meet their goal. Check out this video of their proposed documentary
Rally racing is by far much more popular in Europe, and chances are there’s probably a quadriplegic over there who’s beat Chris to the punch in becoming the world’s first quadriplegic rally racer. But that’s not important. Chris’s story is finally out there, inspiring newbies and seasoned disabled folks, and that’s all that matters.
– Visit Chris’ site: The Limitless Project
Would you ever race cars with hand controls?