When Rob Parsons, 34, broke his back during a dirt bike accident in 2011, he was determined to find another avenue to fulfill his thirst for adrenaline.
“Throughout my recovery, I was trying to figure out what the best thing to do (was) that was like some sort of risk, action and fun,” Parsons said. “Race cars was the easiest option.”
Born and raised in Lethbridge, Alta., his love for automobiles began in his teens, when he and his dad would import cars from Japan together. From that, his passion blossomed.
“That snowballed into me just driving them, and competing in them in drifting,” Parsons said.
Parsons, who now has paraplegia, began experimenting with hand-controlled cars, constantly innovating with ideas to improve performance.
“Some guys (don’t) even think that they can drive a car anymore after they injure themselves,” he said. “That’s absolutely not true.”
The Chairslayer Foundation, created by Parsons, aims to teach individuals with disabilities how to discover their potential in the driving world.
“I want to keep pushing and inspiring people to do this kind of thing and get more people behind the wheel.”
On Sunday, Parsons will be participating in the 98th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado Springs, Colo. — America’s second-oldest automobile race.
According to the racing organization, he will be the first driver with paraplegia to race this track since Charles Hexom did so in 1988.
Forty-four cars have been registered for the upcoming race, and Parsons is one of eight rookies to take on the 12-mile, 14,115-foot-high track, and he expects it to be his most memorable race to date.
“It’s wild. I can’t even put it into words because it doesn’t even feel real,” said Parsons.
While her plans to see Sunday’s event in person were thwarted due to COVID-19, Laurie Thibert is happy to watch her son’s upcoming race online and cheer him on from back home.
“I’m just so proud of him,” Thibert said. “It’s terrible what happened. I’d love to see him walk again but he is doing so well and he is doing so much good for other people.”
Parsons says he is looking forward to what the future holds for his foundation and future business ventures.