For the better part of Thursday morning, Dover International Speedway was taken over by the No. 78 Toyota Camry modified by Falci Adaptive Motorsports, Furniture Row, and DireenTech Inc. A select group of spinal cord-injured guests had the opportunity to not only ride in the two-seat Toyota, but also drive the car using special technology. It was a morning filled with adrenaline, excitement, and tears. Regan Smith, NASCAR driver, gave rides to spinal cord-injured guests to start the day and pressed the pedal to the metal of the No. 78 Toyota Camry.
Janette Lawler, a woman with quadriplegia who hadn’t driven in 26 years, couldn’t wait to feel the speeds of the 850-horsepower NASCAR car. Driving with the modified car’s adaptive head and mouth controls, Janette made three full laps around the “Monster Mile.” It was a day that Lawler and Smith would always remember.
“When I looked over and saw a full faced grin, I knew I could go faster,” Smith said—remembering the experience driving with Lawler.
Former NHRA drag racer, Darrell Gwynn, also said driving the modified car was a life-changing moment, emphasizing the fact that it’s been a long time since he felt that much freedom.
“I haven’t driven for 28 years. I thought the ride with Regan Smith would be the best part, but I haven’t been in control of something since I got married and it was great,” Gwynn said.
Dr. Scott Falci of Falci Apdaptive Motorsports explained that his future plans are to hopefully expand to other states to give the spinal cord-injury community the ride of their lives. “We’ve come out here to the east coast, we want to eventually keep improving this car to make the head sensors and the mouth sensors more fine-tuned and to get out in the middle of the country, and then at a track on the west coast.”
Furniture Row, a proud sponsor of Falci Adaptive Motorsports and owner of Furniture Row Racing, doesn’t have any plans to stop working to help the paraplegic and quadriplegic community.
“We’ve continued our support of the Falci Motorsports program because of the sheer joy we’ve witnessed in the participants. Every smile and burst of laughter at driving an 800-horsepower machine is a step forward in the motorsports world. It is an honor to participate in such a fun yet life-changing program,” Barney Visser, owner of Furniture Row and Furniture Row Racing, said.