Shane Hmiel Making Race Car Return

Jerry Coons, Jr. chats with Shane Hmiel at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 2011. (Gordon Gill photo)
Jerry Coons, Jr. chats with Shane Hmiel at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 2011. (Gordon Gill photo)

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — On Jan. 26, Shane Hmiel is going to do something that no one thought he would ever do again.

Ever since Hmiel’s accident while attempting to qualify for a United States Auto Club race in Terre Haute, Ind., on Oct. 9, 2010 left him paralyzed, his road to recovery has been nothing short of miraculous and has served has an inspiration to many.

Doctors initially told Hmiel and his family that he had a 10 percent chance to live and that he would never walk or breathe on his own again. He wasn’t supposed to ever move his fingers again. He wasn’t supposed to ever move his arms again. He wasn’t supposed to ever move his toes or his feet again.

But he has defied the odds and overcome all those things.

Now, with continued support, Hmiel has the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a race car with Accessible Racing Jan. 26 at Rockingham Speedway.

“I can’t wait for this event at Rockingham Speedway,” said Hmiel, who will drive Accessible Racing’s adapted NASCAR race car on Jan. 26. “I have had a lot of people in my corner pulling for me since I got injured and without all my family, friends, and fans support and prayers I wouldn’t be where I am today on my road to recovery. I can’t thank Andy Hillenburg and the folks at Rockingham enough for allowing this event to take place at their track. I have great memories of the Rock from growing up as a kid all the way through my racing days so it means a lot to me that Rockingham is the first track I get to drive on since my accident.”

Accessible Racing is the brainchild of co-founder and president Brian Hanaford and is built on the mindset of breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for disabled Vets and civilians.

Hanaford grew up in an auto racing family but choose a different path in life. Running became his passion but a car accident resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that changed the course of his life. After years of recovery and emotional distress, he decided to modify a race car to assist the physically challenged.

“Seeing the look on other disabled peoples’ faces when they took a ride in my racecar was a life changing experience for me,” Hanaford said. “Improving somebody’s quality of life in this way is more fulfilling then any self help book or organization I learned of in 30 years. I want to continue sharing with others what has been a gift from God to me.”

The Accessible Racing driving experience provides an exciting and therapeutic experience that helps disabled individuals rediscover their capabilities. It opens up the possibilities in their lives after an accident, illness or injury.

These experiences help prepare individuals after rehabilitation to face the adversity of a disability in their lives and to learn to bounce back in the face of challenge and change. To find out more about Accessible Racing please visit