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An avid athlete from the age of five, Alana Nichols spent her childhood playing t-ball, volleyball, and basketball


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Reaching speeds of more than 130 mph and at two inches off the ground, kart racing is a high-energy sport. Many top Indy-car drivers train and hone their reflexes on these vehicles.

The Need for Speed

Reprinted from SNS November 2000

Roy Schellenberger races karts. But these are not your ordinary "go-karts"—they're powerful vehicles that can travel up to 140 mph.

Schellenberger was a nationally ranked motocross motorcycle racer who was injured (T5) three years ago at the Daytona Supercross. On the first lap he crashed coming off a jump, and several other riders landed on him. Now he races karts and is training to be one of the nation's best drivers.

Reaching speeds of more than 130 mph and at two inches off the ground, kart racing is comparable to Indy cars. Many people start with karts and go on to professional car racing. The karts look like small Indy cars and are powered with 125cc motorcycle engines.

The race track is a closed loop but includes left, right, and hairpin turns; straights; and even small hills and dips. The courses are always exciting and require skill and concentration.

Some modifications had to be done to make Schellenberger's kart accessible. A custom wraparound fiberglass seat and Velcro straps hold him securely in the kart. The brakes and throttle had to be modified for hand controls mounted on the steering column. But the biggest adaptation was the pneumatic air shifter. Buttons on the steering column use pressurized CO2 from a paintball bottle. The gas pressure is used to push and pull on the gearshift lever. The shifter had to be quick and accurate. With so many turns on the race course, Schellenberger is always shifting gears.

"For the first time in two years [following my injury], I felt alive again—back to aggressive, competitive racing," Schellenberger says. "Getting the opportunity to compete equally in an extreme sport was just what the doctor ordered."

 

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The Need for Speed

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