Photo: Gary Himes/Firebird Raceway

Reporter tells inspiring story of man who overcame paralysis to drag race again

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If there’s one thing we at MotorSportsTalk love to read and write about, it’s drivers who overcome adversity, particularly those conquering physical challenges.

On Friday, Rachel Roberts of the Idaho Statesman had a great story about one such driver that we wanted to pass along.

Roberts tells the tale of Idaho drag racer Aaron Marcum, who was left a C6 quadriplegic after a fall off his cabin deck on August 21, 2016. Even though he fell just three feet off the deck, Marcum landed on his chin, which led to the paralysis and Marcum trading his car for a wheelchair.

According to Roberts’ story, fortunately Marcum did not sever his spinal cord and after months of grueling physical therapy that helped him regain some feeling and movement in his arms and legs, Marcum was able to regain some independence by being able to drive a van on the street specially outfitted with hand controls for acceleration and brakes.

But there was one thing Marcum missed greatly: going down the quarter-mile. So, after some adjustments to the van, he raced it down the quarter-mile at Idaho’s Firebird Raceway last October to see how he’d fare.

The results were encouraging, but more importantly, it was very clear the fire still burned greatly inside Marcum, 39, prompting the Meridian, Idaho resident to go all-in on his drag racing comeback, and for Roberts to tell the inspiring story.

“At one point I thought when I got injured that I would never race again,” Marcum told Roberts. “Then I just always kept very upbeat about my injury. Every little thing was motivating. My toes started to move, my foot started to move. Now my legs move.”

Marcum shifted from the van to a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck near the end of last year’s racing season, then spent the winter tweaking it to be more competitive and win-worthy.

And win Marcum did in a big way this past Thursday at Firebird Raceway in Eagle, Idaho (near Boise). Roberts reported how he captured his first four elimination rounds and reached the quarterfinals in the Bracketeer class on the opening day of Firebird’s 47th annual Pepsi Nightfire Nationals.

“I’ve raced every points race that they’ve had out here since (the start of this season),” Marcum told Roberts about racing at Firebird Raceway. “So that’s every other weekend or every two weekends, which is perfect for me.”

Roberts’ story also includes a video of one of Marcum’s winning passes.

Prior to his accident, Marcum had success in several NHRA local and national events, including winning several Super Gas and Super Comp races on the national level.

He’s currently ninth of 22 drivers in Firebird Raceway’s Super Pro points standings.

As Roberts said in her story, “Not bad for someone who thought he’d never race again.”

We couldn’t have said it better – or agree more.

Click here to read Roberts’ full, inspiring story of Marcum and his return to drag racing.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

IMSA’s Bill Auberlen joins NASCAR America to discuss this weekend’s race at Lime Rock

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Turner Motorsport GTD driver Bill Auberlen joined NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder on NASCAR America Presents the Motorsports Hour Thursday to discuss a variety of topics, including Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Lime Rock Park.

Auberlen, alongside co-driver Robby Foley, enters Lime Rock with a great amount of momentum after finishing on the GTD podium at Watkins Glen and taking the GTD class honors in the most recent IMSA race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

There’s also an extra incentive for the duo to win this weekend as well, as Auberlen is one win away from tying Scott Pruett for the most IMSA victories all-time.

Both drivers will have to be on their A-game this weekend, however, as Auberlen stated that Lime Rock is one of the tougher circuits on the IMSA calendar and compared the 1.5-mile Connecticut road course to a short track.

“It’s what we call the bullring of our season,” Auberlen said. “It is a 54-second lap and we’re going to go around it a million times before the end of the day. It’s going to be a hot one, and I think whoever survives this is going to be on the podium.”

Luckily for the GTD and GTLM teams, with no Protoype and LMP2 entries competing at Lime Rock this weekend, the worry of having to yield to entries from the faster classes is gone.

“These Protoypes are so fast now, that interacting with them, you can’t imagine,” Auberlen said. “We have radars in our car that can alert us when they are coming.

“They get on you so fast that if you’re not always looking or something is not telling you they’re coming, you could have a problem and catch into them. That’s gone. Now it’s going to be focus-forward. You’re going to be focused on everything ahead of you. You got GLTM in there at the same time, but they’re virtually the same speed as us – just a little bit faster.

“It’s going to be nice. When you stand on that podium you might be able to go for an overall victory.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter