Colorado Springs—-Rob Parsons, better known as the “Chairslayer,” will make his inaugural appearance on June 28 at the 98th Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, brought to you by Gran Turismo.
The 33-year-old wheelchair-bound athlete from Salt Lake City will be driving a 2010 Chevrolet SS in the loaded Pikes Peak Open Class, where he’ll face some top finishers from last year including Layne Schranz, who ran a sub-10 minute race, and Raphael Astier, who was the Time Attack 1 winner setting a new record.
“The car that Rob Parsons will race this year, modified with a hand-control system, is the same one that Tommy Boileau ran in last year and captured Rookie of the Year,” stated Megan Leatham, Executive Director for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, “It’s a great car, and with Rob’s talent, we’re excited to see what he can do.”
Parsons, already a noted drifter, BMX rider and motocross rider, found himself at the end of a bad dirt bike accident in 2011 that shattered his legs, severed his spine and punctured a lung. After recovering from the injuries and an E. coli infection, he set about figuring out how to return to motorsports without the use of his legs.
“There wasn’t a piece of him that wasn’t busted,” says Tim Parsons, his dad, who was there when they transported his son to the hospital in Lethbridge, Canada, Rob’s hometown, and from there sent him by medical helicopter to the hospital in Calgary — where he would learn he was paralyzed from the waist down.
Six months later, after the surgeons had somehow managed to piece what was left of him back together, he rolled out into the Alberta sunshine in a wheelchair. At 25 he was a paraplegic.
“After my accident, I knew I wasn’t going to walk again,” says Parsons. “The only option was to accept what happened and find a new sport, and racing cars was the sport that renewed my purpose and gave me hope again.”
Parsons started the Chairslayer Foundation to help others who face the same traumas, inspiring thousands of wheelchair-bound individuals to push beyond boundaries and try new things. He invented the world’s most advanced hand-control system for drifting and was the first wheelchair-bound driver to compete in the USA.
While its “Back in the Driver’s Seat” events get people with disabilities behind the wheel again, the Chairslayer Foundation’s mission is multifaceted. From outreach visits with the recently injured to motivational speaking opportunities at schools, hospitals, and other organizations, the Chairslayer Foundation continues to broaden its reach and touch lives. It is ever-evolving, working alongside individuals and other foundations in an effort to provide purpose and hope, all while giving participants an experience they’ll never forget.
It will be a return to Colorado Springs for Parsons who competed last year at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, driving for Falci Adaptive Motorsports, which has lifted the spirits and dreams of mobility-challenged auto-racing enthusiasts with cutting-edge adaptive technology. Parsons starred in the Hot Rod Rock & Rumble event last September at PPIR.