Rob Parsons might not be able to walk, but that hasn’t stopped him. He’s used injuries that left him paralyzed as inspiration for building a car that can be driven by those who don’t have the use of their legs, allowing them the experience of taking a car out on the track and drifting like a champ.
The story begins where Parsons’ life almost ended. On June 5, 2011 he was involved in a very serious dirt bike accident on his local track. The crash had him landing stiff-legged so that the impact sent a tremendous amount of force up through his body. The list of injuries is nauseating.
The accident broke the tibulas, fibulas, and femurs in both legs, punctured his lungs, and severed his spinal cord. He spent six months in the hospital recovering and battling an e. coli infection that came about from all of the hardware in his back.
Prior to the accident, Parsons raced in the Dsport series with great success, even moving into judging before getting into dirt biking. While some might see this kind of accident as an end to all of that, Rob, now known as the Chairslayer, saw it as a chance to do something different with a car. That car is a 1991 Nissan 180SX chassis with a 5.7-liter supercharged LS1 V8 that has been modified so people who can’t use their legs can still drive.
This 600 horsepower car has hand controls specially built by Parsons and he says he’s faster driving now than when he had the use of his legs and was driving competitively. The system isn’t something that is outrageously expensive either, but something that he made affordable so that other people could purchase it for use in their own cars.
Although he’s designed this as a competitive Formula D car, his plans aren’t to take it right to the track and start racing. Part of his personal mission is to help other people get into the driver’s seat so he is currently working on setting up a series of adaptive driving clinics. These clinics will give people a chance to meet Parsons and test out his adaptive driving technology.
It’s amazing to see the car that Parsons built and watch how deftly he takes it drifting around a track. It also serves as inspiration that what may seem like the worst of circumstances can lead to whole new opportunities.