Paralyzed Man Continues Love for Racing
A tragic accident four years ago forced a teenage racer to rely on wheels for the rest of his life, but now he's back on the track.
Justin Hamel from Holbrook has been racing motorcross since fifth grade. That is, until July 25, 2011 when he was injured in an accident.
"I crushed the C-7 vertebrae in my neck and pretty much from that point I was paralyzed from the chest down," Hamel explained.
His love for competition pushed him to get back into racing and now he's stepping on the gas again in drag racing. It's something the 23 year old just couldn't give up.
"You get strapped in and you know your body is ready to go," Hamel said.
Justin and his father started working on a drag race car.
"It was painstaking,” Hamel said. “I don't think there is one bolt on this car that we haven't turned."
Now he's competing in the pro class at the Kearney Raceway Park and his competition says he's an inspiration.
"He inspired me, being in his wheelchair doing his lifts,” said Wayne Dunker.
At first Justin said he didn't know why God would do this to him, but he then told his mom, “I know why, God knew I was tough enough."
"After now, you know, thinking about driving a vehicle with my feet would be weird," Hamel said.
Justin adds he's addicted to racing but it took hard work to get back to the starting line.
"Every single day just work harder to making yourself better,” he said. “You have really tough days, but those are the days that make all other days look easy."
Justin has won twice this year and is eligible to compete at a race in Topeka, Kansas on September 18.