How A Blind Driver Broke A World Record with Dan Parker

On this episode, Dan Parker shares his story of how a race car accident changed his life forever as a result of going blind. Despite this, he continued to live life and pursue his hobby of racing and broke a Guinness world record by driving an average speed of 211 miles an hour.

About the Guest:

“I’m not a blind man trying to race. I’m a racer who went blind.” I was born into a racing family on July 2, 1970 in Salem, Alabama. My father, Jimmy Parker, still races today. I was 8 years old when dad entered me into a mini bike class at an all-motorcycle event, and I placed second! In 1997, I started driving Pro Mods for Ellis Milner. I have won one Dixie Pro Stock championship as well as the 2005 ADRL Pro Nitrous world championship title. I was also in the first side-by-side 3-second Pro Nitrous pass. Racing was my life, and I never imagined it would be taken from me.

In 2012, I was involved in a horrific wreck. It was a miracle that I survived the accident at all, but I was rendered completely blind as a result. I was determined to continue life as usual, and to keep racing. I made a plan. I built a motorcycle and became the first-ever blind man to race at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2013, then set my class record in 2014 with no exemptions for blindness. I race with no human assistance, and I use a custom guidance system that gives me audible feedback on how to correct my course.

Website: https://theblindmachinist.com/

About the Host:

I am Saylor Cooper, Owner of Real Variety Radio and host of the Hope Without Sight Podcast. I am from the Houston, Texas area and am legally blind which is one of the main reasons why I am hosting this my show surrounding this topic , to inspire others by letting them know that they can live their best life an reach their highest potential.

Website: https://realvarietyradio.com/

About the Co-host:

My name is Matthew Tyler Evans and I am from the Northeast Texas area. I am blind like Saylor is and we have the same retinal condition. I decided to join Saylor‘s podcast because I have a strong interest in teaming up with him and I think together, we can inspire the world with others with disabilities.

Thanks for listening!

Thanks so much for listening to our podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it using the social media buttons on this page.

Do you have some feedback or questions about this episode? Leave a comment in the section below!

Subscribe to the podcast:

If you would like to get automatic updates of new podcast episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. You can also subscribe in your favorite podcast app.

Leave us an Apple Podcasts review.

Ratings and reviews from our listeners are extremely valuable to us and greatly appreciated. They help our podcast rank higher on Apple Podcasts, which exposes our show to more awesome listeners like you. If you have a minute, please leave an honest review on Apple Podcasts.

Transcript
Saylor Cooper:

Hello, welcome to another episode of help without sight. This is Episode Seven with your hosts saylor Cooper and

Dan Parker:

Tyler Evans

Saylor Cooper:

Hello Tyler. On this episode, we have Dan Parker, who is a blind racecar driver, who used to be sighted and used to drive race cars. And due to a terrible accident that led him to go blind. But of course, this did not stop him to continue to pursue his dreams. Even after he went blind, he adjusted and still continue to race. And 10 years later, after the accident, exactly, he achieved a Guinness World Record of driving an average speed of 211 miles an hour. Blind. Please welcome Dan Parker. Dan, how you doing this morning? And thanks for being on on the show.

Dan Parker:

I'm doing great. Thank you for the invite.

Saylor Cooper:

Guy. You bet. You bet. So I want to start off. Obviously, you're an icon, you've received so much media attention, because of your incredible achievements. So I want you to start off. So yeah, you're a racecar driver. Even driving race cars, like your life. And of course, one accident changed your life forever. Which, you know, in the end, so much good came out of it. Because today, you know, despite the changes, you're still living your life the way it should. You're still you're still driving today. How does it feel? How has it felt you being on this journey and getting to where you are today.

Dan Parker:

It's been amazing. You know, it's been like anything. You know, big task is full of highs and lows. But you know, I grew up in a racing family. I was eight years old. The first time I raced my mini bike at local drag strip. out of high school I started bracket racing on a regular basis then ended up driving what's called Pro modified cars, because they're the fastest cars on the planet to have a working door, you know, not compared to like a funny cars or the dragsters. So a pro modified car is zero to 75. And one second, zero to one I had it was 190 and four seconds and that 2500 horsepower, you know, and March 31 2012 was a day that like any other day, we were testing the motor combination. On the first of all passed the car made our right turn into the wall and poor part of the wall down with the tumbling to the grass that broke apart. The motor ended up over 100 feet away from where the car stopped and no, they tried to lifeflight now they could in a storm was in between the University of Alabama Hospital and the wreck and put me nameless for the 45 minute ride and it made me and I had broke ribs claps long my whole right arm was completely destroyed. You know, so they induced me into a coma to try to stabilize me. And it took several weeks to have some infections and how to reconstruct the right elbow. Long story short, I woke up. They brought me out to come on the 14th day to my new world of cold darkness. I'm 100% blacked out blind from the traumatic brain injury. My brain swallow compressed my optic nerve and killed it. And so, you know, learn the next day that I was blind for life. You know, so it's been a journey. I said anything great has highs and lows whether you're trying to build a house or or build a racecar, you know, and so I built my motorcycle. In 13 I became the first blind man trace Bonneville 14 hour turn and set my FIM class record with no exemptions for blindness is I'm the only wildland Speed Racer in the world has ever raced with no human assistance. A friend of mine at Boeing Phantom Works built me a guidance system that gives me audible feedback so I know how to correct my steering stay on course. And then I graduated the Louisiana Center for the Blind On March 31 15, three years to the date of the wreck. And then immediately I knew there was one more big goal I wanted for the title for the world's fastest Why, man?

Saylor Cooper:

Wow. And you achieve that because I know 10 years to the exact date after the accident. You, you accomplish your goal, you you drove 211 miles an hour. And as I understand that, you you, you had a custom core that built just for you, and you've achieved your goal and I'm the

Dan Parker:

only phone cut out. Yes, so the correct. I designed. And we built it here at my house.

Saylor Cooper:

Are we good? Okay, yes. Okay.

Dan Parker:

So I designed it. We built it here at my house. You know, we financially we didn't have the money to do this, you know, me and my fiance. So it was it was four years of struggling and trying to raise money, sponsors, the people donate their time to build the car. And it was a battle. But you know, like I said, it was a long process. So in the fall of 19, I was approached by the producers of Jay Leno's Garage, they heard about my story. And they wanted me to come on. And the last they could film for that season for was February of 2020. So once I had securement from them that, you know, they were gonna bring film an episode, I could go and approach and try to get some sponsors on Did you know that the pass on Jay Leno's Garage, my first ever full pass? And I want 153.8 mph. And on the way home, you know, we were starting to hear the news of COVID. And just a few weeks later, you know, basically everything was shut down. So, you know, like all of us, you know, we were just hermits, you know, and I was working in the shop on my pins and stuff better. You know, I didn't know what the future held for the Corvette. And luckily, the end of 2020 President Riccobono NFB reached out to me and wanted to help support me and with Cruz autonomous to try to break the record in 2021. For the 10 year anniversary of the Land Rover Challenge. were present record Moto, you know, in the NFB, they, they built a car that gives feedback so one person could drive it, and he drove it and 2011 at the data and more Speedway, you know, fast. I think he was about 30 miles an hour. We proved the concept that we could do it, you know, and and so we were gonna try to do it in the fall of 21. And then the Delta, you know, very ramped up, and we had to postpone it. Right. And so recently we would not try to, you know, we didn't have any intention on trying to get to the tenure date of my wreck, but so we knew we had to get up roll it back to the spring of 2022. We studied the weather patterns for spaceport New Mexico, January February, basically out of the question because of snow and cold and the spaceport told us that we could only rent it on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays. And because we were there for three days. And just by chance, the last day felt more ill on March 31, exactly 10 years that date and we struggled all day Tuesday and Wednesday with 50 mph side winds on Tuesday and 14 on Wednesday. And so didn't allow me to get into the race car and make any really good full pastures because typically land speed racing they shut down racing roughly between 15 to 17 mile an hour winds in other direction and out in the practice core it make it 110 115 miles per hour passes with a 50 mile per hour side we and I could maintain a 10 foot wide path for a mile. But the last day when a lot of struggles, we overcame and it was we were running out of time. So I think it roughly 330 was my first pass of the Guinness record. I went to 10 and for the Guinness record you have to make two passes within one hour opposite to directions. So if the wind helps you one way, it'll hurt you the other way to average out. So my return run was to 12. So divers, the official Guinness record is to 11.043 mph.

Saylor Cooper:

And because of your hard work and dedication, you achieved this. And I guess, even though you want to do it in 2011 10 years after Mark Riccobono, drove, you know, it worked out for the best. I mean, like you said, It wasn't intentional for you to do to do it on the 10th anniversary, but, you know, it worked out because, you know, 10 years prior, tragedy struck 10 years later, triumph.

Dan Parker:

Yeah, that's right. Yeah, because people have seen the wreck, no one should have lived what I live through, you know, the, there was nothing for to my feet, there was no engine or transmission or the dashboard, or the steering column or anything. When I came to rake, and there's a picture on a SIM card, we're gonna try to retrieve the SIM card get crack. But my face is so swollen the hospital, they couldn't see my eyes as there was black and blue. And, you know, it just shows the extreme of the trauma that My head went through, you know, you know, we hear a fighter pilots, you know, 789 G's of maneuvers. You know, after about nine G's, I started blacking out. But an auto racing. There have been people have Rick's not as severe as mine. And their data acquisition shows over 50 G's of force to the body. My car, the battery was it the very front of the car, says hit the wall, you know, shut off the power. So our data acquisition system didn't get into the wreck. But it would not be uncommon for like I said, I think 50 G's would be a conservative estimate of how much trauma my body went through.

Saylor Cooper:

And so what you're saying is our people who've had accidents less severe, they they couldn't even survived it. And the fact that you survived, and you're still here is incredible.

Unknown:

Oh, yeah, it's, it's an absolute miracle. Because my car owner, the guy that owned the car, Bill, George, you know, we always went above and beyond for safety. And if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't survived, you know, we had these head pieces beside my helmet to soften the impact. If your head bounced around in the head of what's called a poured seat, so the seat, the liquid, you sit in your racing position, and they pour this liquid down around your body, and it forms to your body. And so it is trying to do everything it could, you know, support it. And if it weren't for just above and beyond steps that we as a team took, there's no way I would have left, you know, that I know the crew when I first came on the scene, they just felt sure I was dead. There's no way that

Saylor Cooper:

and Wow, and so like How long were you in the hospital? Like how many surgeries did you have to survive?

Dan Parker:

So I was a hospital a total of a month. The first two weeks I was in an induced coma. I had to rebuild this right arm. I have a titanium rod between my shoulder, my elbow, I still have three plates and 14 screws in my elbow. I have one titanium rod and my thumb I had one of my wrist. The all the nerves are messed up in my right arm and the muscles. You know, their arm was stuck straight for six months on purpose to allow the bone to heal around the elbow. Then they had to go back, open it up and reshape the elbow just to allow it to bend and two months and months of elbow therapy, hand therapy back therapy. You know, it was a long process, you know, but I wasn't. I was UAB for COVID the first time

Saylor Cooper:

and yeah, and doing this of course, you know you had a girlfriend at the time is now your wife. I listened to videos where you told your girlfriend leave, um, too much of a burden for you. You know, I am done. I can't, you know, I don't want you to have to live with me. You told her to go. And she said no. I mean she she stood by your side. And I saw that you were on Steve Harvey. Oh yeah. Of course I don't had this device I have something it's a newer product. I have the Envision glasses. I'm sure you're familiar with those. But you propose to your girlfriend on the Steve Harvey Show with the hula cam. How cool was that?

Tyler Evans:

Oh, yeah.

Dan Parker:

He was caught in Steve. He's just a great person in person. He's just a fool. You know, act up off cameras. He is on camera. And he was really cool. And it was a great opportunity to represent the webcam and, and when they first came to me, and asked me, Would I be interested? Go show us? Yes. And I think I got something that a little spice to it. Because I've been thinking about proposal, Jennifer, and she had no idea. She said, Yes, she old part of the part of the thing that had a cut out is since I got down on my knees. She goes Yes, yes. Yes. And I said didn't know. I got to ask the question. And, but it was good. We were so she had to come home and keep it quiet. For two weeks. We she didn't tell our mama or sisters. We told absolutely no one she didn't wear her engagement ring for two weeks. Nothing. Until the day the show came out. Everybody found out the same way. You know. It was cool. And yes, like I said at the hospital when I first I first brought my column when I found out was bladder. Jennifer just been living with me about three months and she moved out and Birmingham, I told us just go to my house, get whatever you want. Move back to Birmingham and forget about me, I said, you know, my exact words were hers, I ruined my life. Don't ruin yours by trying to do the right thing by me. And luckily, she's already she, she stuck with me. And so it's just me and her and the two dogs and a cat. And, you know, like anybody else, we have highs and lows. And she's been there when we draw them, you know, and supportive of my racing my motorcycle. And, you know, she comes from a racing background, she worked for a postdoc motorcycle team. So she knows the risk, and but she also knew that I had a heavy metal of depression. And if this would give me a purpose, that it would, you know, help me survive. That's exactly what it did. The motor cycle gave me a purpose. And I think all of us need that we all have a passion we do within us. And we have an we had if we have a purpose, with passion and perseverance, anything's possible. And that's so important to us that, you know, especially this, you know, quote, unquote, disabled, you know, some of our struggles a lot worse than others. But, you know, like I said, a passion. I mean, purpose, gets out of bed every day gives us just our mind. It's just, you know, only Internet gives socializing is networking, that and that. That's strong. That's some of the best medicine

Saylor Cooper:

It sure is, it sure is. And when did you propose on Steve Harvey? What year was that?

Dan Parker:

19. Yep.

Saylor Cooper:

Right. Before COVID? Wow,

Dan Parker:

it was February of 19. Oh, by the way,

Saylor Cooper:

if you have, if you still have contact with Steve Harvey, at please, please tell him about us because we would love him as a guest on our show, because I know he's ever come at challenges himself. And he's he's close. So level, please send them my way, you know?

Unknown:

Yeah, I don't have any way to contact them because they shut down the Steve Harvey Show. And so the lady that producer that had to contact, you know, no, email doesn't work anymore. And so they're no longer there. So I really don't have any way to contact them because I've tried to share with them the story of the Corvette as it progressed, and just couldn't find a way to get to him, you know, things like that. Have handlers, you know, so they, you know, I call them gatekeepers, because, yeah, they, they, you know, they, they block what they want to walk through what they want to get through and in as tough

Saylor Cooper:

as yeah, it is

Tyler Evans:

there's another person I think was interviewed. He went through a lot. His talk show host Mark Levin.

Saylor Cooper:

Exactly. Yeah.

Dan Parker:

Oh, wow. I didn't realize that.

Tyler Evans:

While he was an attorney for Ed Meese, he was a worked in the Reagan administration.

Dan Parker:

And who he is by the North kind of you no challenges he's been.

Tyler Evans:

He's had heart attack.

Dan Parker:

Oh, wells. Yeah.

Tyler Evans:

So I think we should interview him. And he's, he's still on the air. So

Saylor Cooper:

that yeah, of course back to that. So And to be clear, you drive a motorcycle independently with auditory and happen haptic feedback, right?

Dan Parker:

Yes, auditory, because the haptic feedback won't work because my right hand all the nerves are crossed up. When I squeezed my thumb, my index fingers things and feels like it's expanding. But it's so my motorcycle I design is a three wheeled motorcycle. When I went to the racing organization, they told me they wouldn't even consider letting me race unless I made it a three wheeler, take bounce that equation, it's okay. If you're a football field, we'll go play by your rules. And it's a 70 CC, so it's not super fast. My official record of Bonneville is 62.05 miles per hour. Yep.

Saylor Cooper:

So you just drive on the racetrack? Basically. Yeah,

Dan Parker:

that's right. Yeah, both the COVID. And the motorcycle is for straight line racing only, you know, no, no terms, no optical borders, yes, but you're trying to go as fast as possible,

Saylor Cooper:

because that's why we still can't drive today, you know, which hopefully, we can eventually in technologies here, it just needs to be approved,

Dan Parker:

you know, we, we will, my next project that I want to get involved with, will be a semi autonomous bicycle. So it'd be, again, a three wheel bicycle, or maybe even four wheels, they have what's called a Velomobile. They're very popular in Europe. So imagine a three wheeled vehicle that actually has a little shell around it, load and load doors, and you get it. So because over in Europe, you know, there's so much rain, and so you're out of the elements, you pedal, well, the computer would do, you know, calculate your path and provide the the navigation, the obstacle warnings, and the steering, and you provide the pedaling. And so as a whole lot easier to try to have the algorithms and the sensors, and everything that goes to, you know, to maintain a five to 10 mph pace than a 75 miles per hour pace, you know, the difficulties. So that's one of the next projects that that Patrick and I, the engineer built, the guys system, are very committed to try to work on in the next few years. Because I think that's, I think that's gonna be for the blind. That's gonna be our next realistic step for transportation. Companies, like crews are doing great things for the autonomous world, you know, and they're growing, they're growing. But right now, they're basically based in San Francisco, you know, and as the government has to allow the steps for them to be illegal in the streets, and it come further out to the country. You know, imagine if you had a Velomobile with a computer on it, that programmed a two mile radius of your house. So just think, you know, I don't know where you live or anything about your neighborhood. But just think, even if you just provide, if a program, a path for exercise, and your neighborhood, you know, that you could just make it what like my neighborhood here, I could program a loop around my few blocks here, my neighborhood and get one mile pass. So, you know, if I did that, four or 510 times a day, the exercise would be just great, fresh air. But then I have a Chick fil A less than two miles away. I have a Walmart Neighborhood Center a few miles away, you know, so if we had those options, the freedom for us is, you know, just enormous, you know, and so that's, that's my goal.

Saylor Cooper:

Wow, you're gonna change the world and you're gonna make lives easier for us because i By the way, I tried to meet you at the convention in New Orleans out I attempted to go see a Corvette. I like after general session got out that wasn't

Dan Parker:

there. It was, yeah, we we were trying to take it there. And norlane Orleans, downtown area is so congested, narrow streets. My trailer that had was 40 feet long. So the rig was about 60 feet long, just to get that size truck and trailer to the hotel required us having a police escort. There was nowhere to park it at Hotel. So it was just so our goal is to take it to Houston this next year for the national convention because then we can take it in this play at everything and so that that's our goal.

Saylor Cooper:

And it's awesome because Yeah, actually I live in Houston, just outside of Houston and we're we're hosting a convention next year. So yeah, definitely. I hope to see to you there. It's going to be, it's going to be awesome. It's going to be wonderful. And also, I'm sure, of course you hold. You hold Michelle, trying to think what her last name is. I haven't my contacts. But Michelle, from Wei Mo. In San Francisco, she spoke about autonomous vehicles, how those vehicles are going to basically be almost like an Uber. As to where you don't, you don't necessarily buy the vehicle. But instead you request it on the way mo app and order it. And it comes to you. It drives itself it's there, I believe in Phoenix, in San Francisco, right?

Dan Parker:

I think so. I think you're really close. Yes.

Saylor Cooper:

Yeah. Yeah. And so hopefully, we get to see those as well. And, yeah, because I mean, see, I only live out in the woodlands, which is north of Houston. The only reason I live here is because there's Uber and Lyft. there because there's no city bus, paratransit, the metro. Houston doesn't go all the way out here, because of course, it's we're not in city limits. But if it if it wasn't for Uber, I wouldn't be able to live in this area. But with with new developments, in regard to autonomous vehicles, it's gonna make life even better for us.

Dan Parker:

It is, and it's coming. I think the pace is definitely slower than what we will, you know, because, you know, but that's, you know, that's, that's life. That's reality. But, you know, how old are you? So,

Saylor Cooper:

am I 29.

Tyler Evans:

And I'm 31

Dan Parker:

I'm old enough to be both the old father you know, in my lifetime, what will be happening will be far less than what will be in your lifetime, you know, and so that's, you know, in 30 years, what, as we know, transportation today will be totally different, you know, then, you know, how it is today, but yet, the opportunities and like, I think, me and press record Moto and Patrick, we talked about his bicycle project years, because in my mind, I think that's a realistic way for a blind person have independent transportation. Now, obviously, Uber lives that way, most the cruises are, are great. But to truly, you know, own your vehicle in time, you will, you know, it likes it exercise is so much of it, you know, you know me, I don't exercise, they're not why should. And that gives, that opens up the possibility so much more.

Saylor Cooper:

Exactly. Yes, yes. Because you like transportation is only forever evolving, like, and, and, I mean, I'm sure, you know, there were airplanes and cars, you know, in your younger years, of course, but, you know, even before planes, before that, we didn't have any of that hack. People commuted on horseback on wagons took days to get to their destination. And look at what we have now. It's only going to evolve and gosh, who knows? There may be a blind pilot that may fly a plane, you

Dan Parker:

never know. Yeah.

Saylor Cooper:

Yeah, yeah. So it's wonderful. Great. So you're just to clarify, so the call that that you drove on March 31st. You did have a sighted person passenger in the vehicle with you just in case, right?

Dan Parker:

That's right. So when I designed the car up front, I designed it to have two steering wheels. So while I was testing, if we you know, because we're, you know, I'm testing technologies, there's never been done before. And so we didn't have the money. I didn't have the money to go to engineering firm and say, This is what I want. And once it's all 100% sorted out, bring me the car, and I'm gonna jump in and drive it. I'm the one that local dragstrip testing and you know the dangers are real so I had it designed so pastor can be with me, well,ins rance

Dan Parker:

required you Yes, that's one of the only ways we get this signed off to do we did is to add a passenger in the car that it likes to the steering wheel. Well, the Guinness officials, we went to them and that's normally not the protocol based way to do this, we will allow the passenger because it's not helping you if anything is for me because that's an extra 200 pounds. But we had to provide GoPro footage that the pastor did not have his hands on the steering wheel. He didn't do anything to help me. He didn't have any other controls on his side of the car. And he was there for just sole purposes are an emergency situation. And so as soon as I brought the car to the stop, on the second pass, Jason my copilot was getting out we're celebrating 90 got a car yet boy Jason didn't get to celebrate was on top end because the Guinness official pole up in the car. And they had to basically witness Jason taking the SIM cards out the GoPro, hand them to the Guinness official, they had to drive them straight to the trailer, put them in the laptop, and, you know, go over and review them to make sure you know, he didn't help me. And that's all the way that we get the records certified on the spot is because he was able to do that. And you know, in today's lawsuit world, that's just part of it. You know, I wanted them for safety. You know, I've done I've been through enough with race next. And so I don't care how many more trips the hospital. But on the same token, you know, I like to do it independently in one day. I will. But that's that's, again, their football field, we had to play by the rules. And this was a long process with, you know, me and the team NFB putting all this together and spaceport and all the legalities and insurance and you know, this was months and months and months of blind people working together to coordinate this to make this happen. And it all worked out at the end of the last few hours. But it was a struggle. But yeah,

Saylor Cooper:

I'm sure you went through, like, Hell sign you're getting all the paperwork. Right? You've you argue with attorneys, insurance companies, they they told you no, no, no, you can't do this. But you despite this, you didn't. You held your

Dan Parker:

ground? Yeah, well, the legal team NFB is want you know, Stacy, person and the Lewis and Steph Testoni. They were the main people working on this the whole time. And but there's a lot of back and forth. You know, because originally, in 2021 when we're gonna attempt the record, Steve struck from the East Coast time association was gonna be my pastor. He was a pastor, for the Jay Leno deal. And we were going to race under his insurance and sanction body will August of 21. Steve got delta. And he was the hospital for I think 10 weeks, like eight weeks on the event. And he he is a miracle survived. So during that time, we said, well, we got to, we got to regroup. We got to get a plan B. So we went to Tim Kelly for a long time in association in Maine. And he came on board last race on his sanction body, his insurance course. Luckily, Jason white, my co pilot race lorring and has his he's got the world's fastest C six Corvette 269 miles an hour. So he's, you know, he's a lane Speed Racer, and Tim respects him and he knew that Jason wasn't gonna let me you know, do anything on site or the anything on the side of the car. So you trust Jason's that brought a lot of competence to the team. And then Jason allowed us to race on his sanction body. So it was in in the people's spaceport, which is great work with. I can't think Alice and I and my mind just went blank. Chris Lopez, director of Operation enough, it was so mean, touching, you know, it noon on the last day, it cracked 200 miles an hour yet. And I knew, you know, our lease was up at five o'clock. And I went Allison, I said, Alice, I said, obviously we're struggling. I ended up with five hours left on my contract. Do I have any options? And she told me she said, I get emotional. Just think about she said, you just keep fighting an hour about this. So okay, you know in a The next pass I'm at 205. I felt a few things in the car that need to be adjusted. We brought back to the pits. Jack that made some adjustments also calls for some shots that, you know, I made the decision. And next pass was to 10. And next passes to toil. History was made.

Saylor Cooper:

So it took you basically all day to.

Dan Parker:

We've been there. We've been there for three days we rolled in on Monday, the team went over the Carlmont. All Monday, Tuesday. We were fighting issues with the car. But I had to practice core core right there. And so out me and Patrick got with a practice car practice party for 45 minutes at a time, the team was working on the car, but the winds in the sandstorms are so bad, that we couldn't get the race car, we didn't get the race car out on the track to Wednesday. So I made a half mile pass, I think I went 158 to the half. The next pass was about a three quarter mile pass. And we're like 176 to the three quarter, I think I made a one Malpass about 187 And we were still struggling with some issues with the car. And Jason on last morning. I woke up about 130 in the morning, I knew. So a torque converter is a device between the motor train and mission that allows the motor to idle, slipping while you're traveling. But you want it super tight, so you grow as fast as mouth power as possible. Well as my fault, what I'm saying aspect it too tight. So when you drop it in gear, it was not allowing the car to idle, it was shut the motor off. So we were fighting that whole time. So I told myself the last morning that we need to build a push bar. So if I couldn't get it to leave, I would have another vehicle push me up about 10 or 20 miles an hour, and drop it gear and go. And I knew I'll have what's called a jump box trailer. I knew what I had the jump box. So we the team, we made it five o'clock went straight to spaceport, as the sun was rising, we the team was welding. And we built a push bar that is on. And luckily, we didn't have to use it. And so I told the team, I'm sorry, my guys here cutting the grass. I told the team if we have to push us with a practice car, and we'll get up speed. So you're gonna tear the front bumper up on that COVID The practice car isn't 9094 Blame is nothing special. As that listen, if we have to sacrifice that front bumper for this guest we'll record that's just part of the game that that's we'll do that they make another one that wouldn't last front bumper for 94 COVID. They made that luckily, we didn't have to use it. But we we were prepared.

Saylor Cooper:

Wow. That's, that's incredible. That's an amazing accomplishment of you achieving your goal. And also the car. Is it electrical is it gas

Dan Parker:

almost there. So it has a 440 cubic inch gas motor. The motor makes 800 horsepower before the nitrous oxide is activated, and has a three speed transmission. So it can make 1000 horsepower if I needed to. And in the mile and a half. If I needed to a little bit more practice. I could probably run between 225 and two or 30 in the Bonneville Salt Flats with a five mile course. I could run over 250 easily with it.

Saylor Cooper:

And it's just to just utilize right. Yeah, that's right. Cool. That's

Dan Parker:

two door sports car.

Saylor Cooper:

Yep. Wow. And so on. So yeah, as I understand it, you are driving, you are driving this car on your own, that passenger is only there for emergencies is not touching anything whatsoever.

Dan Parker:

You're not touching a do anything. He is there, you know 200 feet for the finish line. The computer calls that parachute. I have what's called a paddle shifter, my left pinky a pull the paddle shifter and that the you know, deploys the parachute. Once I feel bossman took the lid off the gas and start playing the brakes to bring to stop Yeah, he's not doing anything.

Saylor Cooper:

And it's audible feedback. It's all on athlete that Yeah. Wow. How theater calls

Dan Parker:

out parachute, a pull the parachute. And then two or 300 feet later, is the finish line it calls up finish that no that's what's come storming it to a stop.

Saylor Cooper:

I mean, in my mind, I don't know how you react so quickly if a car is just going so so so fast. You know, it's just crazy. I mean,

Dan Parker:

give you perspective, too. 100 miles an hour, you're going to football field per second.

Saylor Cooper:

That's yeah, that's that's faster than average car on a highway way, way faster. Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's way, way faster. And that's just incredible. You can still, you can still do that. And of course before that, before you had the accident, will you like in the car yourself? Or was there still a passenger van for a

Dan Parker:

race completely by myself? You know, when I raced before, you know, I was a semi professional, I've won, world champion drag racer, and the car that drove before makes made over 2500 horsepower. And so I've been over 220 miles an hour, and just a quarter of a mile in that car. And so, you know, racing is all over done. But now, pasture is no, no, not allowed in pretty much any form of motorsports.

Saylor Cooper:

Yeah, and you're still still doing it now? Um, do you hope to go to the f1, the Formula One as a blind racecar driver one day?

Dan Parker:

No. I know, the realistic limitations of where technology is right now is, is a straight line, you know, top speed events and best fan. You know, my main point, my next main purpose that I really want to concentrate my efforts on is, I want to become an inspirational speaker, and I will work on the bicycle project for the blind. That's, you know, two things. That's my next focus.

Saylor Cooper:

Yeah, motivational speaking is the way to go because you've overcome so much from tragedy, to almost losing your life to triumph. And that's what other people need in this world, they need to rise up, you know, knowing that, despite their circumstances, it's, it's not the end of the world. And of course, that leads me to my pretty much last question. And of course, Tyler, if you have any questions, you can ask them other than your other than your bicycle project, and you becoming a motivational speaker, what I do, do you have any other future goals that you hope to accomplish after, after getting the Guinness World Record of driving? Those are the two main

Dan Parker:

things that in course, I work out my shop every day, I'm a machinist, my website is the blind machinist.com and I hand machine custom aluminum meat pans, and, and are presented one to the CEO of Sam's Club. I spoke a few weeks ago, that that keeps me busy. And I have some adaptive technology in the shop and allows me to, you know, be a machinist. And very accurately machine parts. You know, that's enough on my plate for right now. If I go in the machine shop where motivational speaking the bicycle project is

Saylor Cooper:

more than enough. And, and even though you have damaged to like your nerves and your hands, you can still be a machinist. Oh, obviously. I mean, how do you do that? If you just your hands don't fully work, right?

Dan Parker:

They then work is painful to make a fist, but the nerves are crossed up, you know, people see me work or, you know, daily activities. They don't realize how much damage his right arm is. But it is what it is. You know. I have some adaptive equipment sharp. I have a taut box. It's my CalPERS that speaks out measurements and some of the other decorative techniques I've learned or developed and allows me to operate machine shop equipment safely. And that's typically when a lot of times shop work or something out there.

Saylor Cooper:

Wow. And you you live in Columbus, Georgia, right? Correct. Correct? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. New Fort Benning. That's right. Yep. Yeah, well, awesome. Awesome. So well, of course, as you know, as you as a guest, I want to make sure do you have anything else to share? Because, you know, if not, you know, let's wrap up. And of course, Tyler, you know, you have a floor if you have any questions for our guests as well. So, first, Dan, do you have anything else?

Dan Parker:

No, I'm good. I appreciate the invite. And I appreciate the message you're trying to convey to people. Certainly, well, I mean, low positivity, anything you get taller.

Tyler Evans:

I just think the story is really inspiring. Really. It really is like blind people can actually drive and my sister in law sheets not really convinced because it's like, how can you drive if you're blind and what about technology not functioning? All this stuff. Yeah. Yeah. In that's, you know,

Dan Parker:

people, you know society nothing, you know, against her but people is never exposed to understanding, you know, and that's our job is, you know to help define blindness not that the blindness define us. And that's what we're all doing every day, you know, working hard to define one's.

Saylor Cooper:

That's right because blindness doesn't define you it's the misconception the misconceptions that people have and then negative attitudes. Yep. Well, awesome. So I'm on at the end of every episode. I like I really asked my guests to just leave a message to our listeners. What advice do you have for anybody that struggling with how about their what's what's what's that? What's a message that you can leave

Dan Parker:

on everyone? My pins I still they call it my wooden boxes or my bases, my BetAmerica pans with my life quote, I'll leave it with this. You can make excuses or make it happen.

Tyler Evans:

Oh, yeah. No, no,

Saylor Cooper:

no excuses, make stuff happen. Because you only got one life live it to perform. Okay. Well, Dan, go ahead.

Tyler Evans:

How did you say that was telling me that you once were suicidal? How did you overcome that? Like after your blindness that you didn't it didn't feel worth living? Like you felt like hey, life was not worth living.

Dan Parker:

Well about you know, we've all we all know if y'all watched the movie Field of Dreams, but I had a real life Field of Dreams moment. About six months after my wreck, and went to bed when I think about my brother who passed away and oh man and my mother who passed away just six months before my wreck. And my brother always told me a story about four guys from France to build a 50 cc motorcycle. And they design it where they can take it apart because their luggage they did they flew United States rented a car went to Bonneville put it together and each got a record. And so that night, I went to bed thinking about them I woke about two o'clock in the morning for the most vivid dream that would build a motorcycle and be the first blind man's race Bonneville and then went back sleep in with Jennifer woke up by eight o'clock. I told her she said okay, so that dream gave me my purpose. And the purpose took away the suicidal thoughts, you know, and and that's reason I'm so passionate. We all need a purpose. You know, go with whether you want to be a writer, a painter, grant, a triathlon, whatever it is. You we all have Dr. Dre scars at 20 miles an hour, that whatever your passion is, turn it into your purpose, and it'll get you through life.