For the first time in 28 years, Darrell Gwynn took to a race track as a driver.
His time on Dover International Speedway was not in what was a once familiar dragster, but rather an adaptive Furniture Row car with an assist from Regan Smith.
Smith took the adaptive car onto the course and then turned control over to Gwynn.
Gwynn was able to drive for part of a lap for the first time in 28 years since an accident that almost claimed his life through a special straw provided by Falco Adaptive Motorsports (@FalciMotorsport). Using this special device, Gwynn was able to control the car by “sipping” and “puffing” on the straw.
“Without a steering wheel, it’s hard to keep it perfectly straight in the corners with just your head,” Gwynn told Smith after his laps at Dover. “Normally NASCAR drivers, they drive with their arms and their … eyes. Here, you have to drive with your head and your mouth.”
Gwynn was injured in an exhibition race at Santa Pod Raceway in England in 1990. Halfway through his run, his dragster turned abruptly left into a retaining wall at approximately 240 mph leaving him paralyzed and without his left arm.
Video of Gwynn and Smith at Dover was broadcast via Facebook Live.
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Race fans and historians will have an opportunity to relive the 1911 Indy 500 in color this Sunday, November 25 at 8 p.m. ET.
Airing on the Smithsonian Channel as part of their America in Color series, a colorized version of the first Indy 500 highlights a race that began a tradition more than 100 years old.
The Indy 500 helped establish the auto racing industry and part of the episode deals with the lives of the Ford, Firestone and Edison families.
On board mechanics were a fixture of racing at the time – in part because they also served as spotters. On Lap 90 Joe Jagersberger (running three laps down at the time) broke a steering mount and his rider tumbled onto the track, causing Harry Knight to careen into the pits – which had no wall separating it from the track. Remarkably, no one was killed.
The documentary describes how Ray Harroun likely won because of his use of a rear view mirror that allowed him to drive without an on board mechanic. Innovation in that inaugural race set the tone for racing today.
Harroun beat Ralph Mumford by a margin of 103 seconds in a race that took six hours, 42 minutes to run.