DOVER, Del. - People with disabilities had the experience of a lifetime in Dover on Thursday. The Dover International Speedway teamed up with Furniture Row Racing to put on an exciting event for the ones who have been through so much.
Military veterans, people with spinal cord injuries, and paraplegics alike all had the opportunity to ride along with a NASCAR race car driver and operate their own NASCAR race car on the Dover International Speedway.
Scott Falci, a Neurosurgeon and Event Organizer said, "It's very fulfilling. It's a wonderful feeling. It's thrilling just to see the smiles on these guys faces and it's so inspiring to them, so it's wonderful."
The idea to hold a special NASCAR event for veterans and paraplegics came to Scott Falci just a few years back. He said, "It really started several years ago with a patient of mine that I had operated on who was a former race car driver, and he got paralyzed riding a motorcycle and he had lamented that he just hadn't been able to get in a race car again, it was just a passion of his."
After successfully getting his patient back into a race car equipped with specialized equipment, Falci decided he could help more paraplegics. He said he partnered with Furniture Row, a company which helps to build the specialized race cars.
For Thursday's participants, the unique opportunity made light of a tough situation. Kelly Brush, a participant, said, "This is a different experience. This is a totally unique opportunity and something that I would never have been able to do if I hadn't had my accident, hadn't had my spinal cord injury."
Event participants said riding in the race car wasn't just about the adrenaline rush. Mark Flounlacker, a participant, said, "There's more to it than just riding around the track in a race car. This is more like a, you know, these guys are really pushing the envelope and really bringing technology to bare that gosh, I mean, you know, it would make peoples lives a lot better."
NASCAR Driver, Martin Truex Jr., said he is glad that he could help out with such a great cause. He said, "It's definitely neat to see how they're using the technology and involving racing and race cars and all that, but for me, honestly, it's just fun to get to take these guys for a ride and show them a little bit of what we do and give them a little bit of a feel for the monster mile, so it was a lot of fun out there today and hopefully they enjoyed it, seemed like they did!"
Race organizers said that they are hoping to continue this event in the future.
Following Thursday's event, NASCAR is just beginning to rev up it's engines for a busy weekend ahead. Thousands are expected to make it out to this weekend's races.
Race organizers said Friday and Saturday and should be pretty quiet in Dover, but Sunday is the day when more fans will be rolling in, setting up and tailgating.
Despite there being a higher volume of people in Dover this weekend, race organizers said the roads will still be manageable due to months of heavy planning.
Gary Camp, the Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications, said, "So we've been planning this for a long time. We have monthly meetings with DelDot to always be tweaking and improving our plans for getting people in and out so come race weekend, we're expecting smooth sailing. We've got great weather so we're excited!"
There will be three races in three days this weekend.
Race organizer's said this is an exciting time for Dover and the overall State of Delaware.
If you're interested in learning more about this weekend's NASCAR events, you can go to www.doverspeedway.com
Paraplegics get the experience of a lifetime on Dover International Speedway
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