The Need for Speed
The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving hosts the fourth annual "Driving to Excel" event.
It’s one thing to watch an event such as NASCAR and imagine driving fast; it’s something else to actually drive a high-performance vehicle, especially when it’s been equipped to be driven by people with spinal-cord injury or disease (SCI/D) or other physical disabilities.
“It’s a different experience than riding as a passenger. I love the feel of the muscle in the car, and I’m in control of it,” says Christina Chambers, from Mesa, Ariz., after driving a 426-horsepowered Chevy Camaro SS last December during the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving’s fourth annual Driving to Excel event in the Phoenix area.
A junior in high school with transverse myelitis, Chambers was among more than 100 others from St. Joseph’s Barrow Neurological Institute and around the state to take part in the event at the Wild Horse Pass Motor Sports Park. The one-of-a-kind experience encourages post-injury patients with disabilities to participate in adaptive recreation.
Participating in the event for the second time, Chambers has a rare neurological disorder which causes her immune system to attack her spinal cord. The disease was discovered in 2009, but over the last four years, she has regained some mobility with a walker and crutches. She drove a Camaro for the first time.
“I learned from my instructor how to turn at that high of a speed and how much gas and brake to apply,” Chambers says.
Trying new things, feeling confident and having fun is the whole point of the unique program.
Ride or Drive
All participants received basic track instruction from Bondurant assistant chief Instructor Danny Bullock, who coordinates the drivingexperience at the school.
Participants can then ride as a passenger in a Chevy Corvette or Camaro with a professional instructor or drive a Camaro equipped with special hand controls (depending on their abilities).
There were 28 attendees who hit the track in the specially equipped Camaro. Other participants got in the passenger seat for 110-mph laps with Bullock or fellow Bondurant instructors William Hawkins, Robert Stout, Andy Lee, Tommy Boileau or Nick Aiuto.