Winning a professional auto race is a serious accomplishment. Regardless of what people feel about the athleticism needed to drive a car at rapid velocities for extended periods of time, it’s a skill, and one worth serious attention.
Now imagine winning a race on a series where speeds reach 130 miles-per-hour as a 13-year-old … with the use of only one hand.
Incredibly, that fairy tale has already been written in real time by Indiana native Chris Hacker, the youngest driver in the Champion Racing Association Late Model Sportsman series. As noted by the Indianapolis Star, Hacker became the youngest winner in series history in July when he won a race at Anderson Speedway.
More impressively, Hacker won the race while steering with just his right hand. Hacker suffered a brachial plexus injury to his left arm during birth which forever hindered his left arm’s ability to function. He will never regain use of the limb, which now hangs limply and can’t be extended above his head, or let it reach his side. The only part of his arm that Hacker can feel is his fingers. He has sensation in his left arm, but that's about it.
Luckily, the teen has a remarkable sense of humor about his impairment, which he insists has never hindered his ability to race since he first sat in a car at age 8.
"I don’t think it's a disadvantage," Hacker told the Star. "I think it’s something unique about me.
"[The left arm is] just along for the ride."
Hacker does require some customization to be able to compete in CRA Late Model Sportsman car. He sits on a riser and his pedals are moved considerably closer to accommodate his pose. The car’s ignition switch was also switched from the left to ride side.
Naturally, the Hacker family has big dreams for Chris. Before he has even entered high school, the teen has raced in 14 different states and impressed nearly everyone he has come across.
One of those onlookers was Scott Neal, a mechanic and CRA team owner who stepped forward to act as Hacker’s crew chief on occasion after he learned more about the racing prodigy.
BLOCK: "I was shaking his dad’s hand, thinking his dad was the driver, because the kid's too little," Neal recalled. "It was pretty funny." …
"Hat's off to him," Neal said. "His ability is overwhelming. I don't see any reason why he couldn't move right up and drive in NASCAR with the right opportunity."