ISCARS Racing Series
Raymond (Ray) Paprota
5311 Jameswood Lane
Birmingham, AL 35244
Born- May 13, 1962 in New Brunswick, NJ
Education- Burr D. Coe High School, East Brunswick, NJ class of 1980
United States Air Force, Minuteman Missile Tech 1980-84.
Two years at Middlesex College, Edison NJ 1986-87
Divorced, no children
Disability- T-10 Paraplegic, resulting from a motor vehicle accident May 7. 1984 (no sensation or use of his legs)
Ray is an accomplished wheelchair athlete. He has represented the USA in international competition and has competed in power lifting, wheelchair tennis and most recently was a member of the 2002 Wheelchair Basketball National Championship Team.
Ray relocated from NJ to Birmingham, AL in 1993 to train full time with the Lakeshore Foundation in hopes of making the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games. A torn rotator cuff just weeks before tryouts sideline that dream but opened up a door in a new direction.
Unable to train, Ray looked to motor sports as a means to channel the competitive spirit that burned inside. He began helping some friends that raced Legends Series race cars and before long the group had modified a used race car with hand controls that enabled Ray to compete toe-to-toe with his able-bodied peers. 1997 was his first year competing in Legends Series and his competitors soon learned that when Ray hopped out of his wheelchair and into his race car he was just another racer and a force to be reckoned with.
After barnstorming the South for several years his abilities behind the wheel were noticed by former NASCAR crew chief George White and NASCAR legend Bobby Allison. Together the group looked to move up the racing ladder. During this time Ray was working with the start up ARCA team that would later become BAM. He utilized equipment that was given to him by BAM owners Tony and Beth Ann Morgenthau to develop a new style of controls needed to
command the larger and heavier style race cars. Ray and George would adapt the new hand control design into a former Winston Cup car in hopes of competing in ARCA. Testing proceeded well but the team needed sponsorship backing to compete in ARCA. This lack of sponsor dollars forced the group to look to a more economical series where Ray could gain seat time in the bigger cars.
Enter Danny Bagwell, a longtime competitor in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series. Danny, who is also from Alabama, had heard of Ray's dreams of racing in NASCAR and provided him the equipment and support to race in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series. The crew doubled up its workload and Danny split the team's already meager budget down the middle. What was once one very competitive race team instantly became two. With power from Wilson Bagwell's potent engines, leadership from his crew chief George White and guidance from his mentor Bobby Allison, Ray was prepared to make racing history, NASCAR style. On October 25, 2002 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Ray became the first paraplegic to compete in a NASCAR Touring Series event. Starting 22, Ray completed 82 laps before transmission problems forced him out of the race.
Ray founded the Little Slicks in 1997. Little Slicks is a hands on program committed to teaching physically challenged children about the tools, teamwork and technology that is auto racing. The program grew from a few kids hanging around the race shop to modifying go-carts with hand controls with race instructing. The program lost its funding from the non profit Lakeshore Foundation and is now seeking support to continue. Ray is also developing the International Challenged Racers Association (ICRA). The ICRA will serve as a clearing house of information for people with disabilities that have an interest to compete and a database of information for potential sponsors as they discover the valuable resource and potential impact physically challenged racers can make as product spokesmen.
July 23, ISCARS racing event at the new Shenandoah Speedway. This barrier breaking competitor uses state of the art hand controls that enable him to operate the throttle, brakes and clutch with both hands on the steering wheel. Paralyzed in a motor vehicle accident at the age of 21; Paprota, who is unable to use his legs, began racing Legends Series race cars in 1996 before moving up to the larger, faster and more competitive ISCARS touring series. He credits NASCAR and ISCARS (formerly known as the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series) with providing an opportunity to demonstrate his abilities in a race car rather than focusing on his limitations in a wheelchair.
He may not make it to the Winston Cup level, but he will certainly make it easier for the next kid with a dream.
Ray Paprota | 5311 Jameswood Lane | Birmingham, Alabama 35244
Phone: (205) 541-6872 | email@example.com
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