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Motorsports: Living Life in Motion

Published Oct 8th 2006, 5:43pm by Jody DeVere in Featured Articles

United Spinal Association’s Motorsports program is to promote the use of adaptive automotive equipment by encouraging member participation in competitive motorsports. It is also to develop partnerships in the motorsports industry in support of the program, raising awareness about spinal cord injuries and disorders.

Meet the United Spinal Motorsports Team

United Spinal has created a committee, enlisting the help of a diverse group of motorsports industry leaders and professionals who have partnered with us and believe in our mission of enabling people with spinal cord injuries and disorders to fulfill their potential as active members of their communities. The committee is responsible for coordinating events, identifying fundraising and networking opportunities, campaigning on behalf of United Spinal and its members, and developing specific program-oriented goals.

Carol Hollfelder
Tiger Racing

Carol Hollfelder’s interest in cars goes back to her childhood. Cars were and are a family passion. Although Carol has always loved cars, she began competing one horse at a time at the age of nine. She rode hunters and jumpers until she was injured in a motorcycle accident in 1987 at the age of 18. Due to a spinal cord injury, she could no longer compete as an equestrian so she turned her drive for competition towards sportcars.

Racing began with club events at Willow Springs, Riverside Raceway and other historic tracks. Driving courses came first, then club races. Carol began using her street car, a Toyota Supra, in these events. It was an automatic because a decade ago there were no hand controls for a manual transmission. In 1999, Carol won SCCA’s Cal Club Regional Championship in the T1 class. In 2003, she began campaigning a Ford Mustang equipped with Ford’s ASM/SSM transmission out of their Aston Martin Vanquish. She also drives with a brake/throttle system that was designed by her father. Tom Hollfelder. and fabricated by Steele Therkleson, a mechanic on the Le Mans winning 1966-67 Ford GT40 teams.

As a paraplegic, Carol has been faced with many obstacles which the able-bodied never confront. As a result of this, she is extremely interested in issues and research affecting the disabled.

Carol hopes to bring people’s attention to the hand control system that she uses. She hopes to show other people with disabilities that nothing is beyond their reach, not even the ultra competitive world of motorsports. She is also looking ahead in her own driving. Endurance racing with her husband at Daytona is a goal that she looks forward to achieving.

Jody DeVere
President Ask, Inc.
Women’s Automotive Association International

Jody DeVere is President of Ask, Inc. and has more than 25 years of achievement in sales and marketing leadership across diverse industries. Jody is currently the President of the Woman’s Automotive Association International, a leading automotive organization that supports upcoming female race car drivers, diversity, and charitable giving and provides scholarships for young women seeking careers in the automotive industry. She is also a member of the Car Care Council Women’s Board, and a member of the SEMA Businesswomen’s Networking Association.

In 2003, Jody was honored by the Los Angeles Business Journal as a “Woman Making a Difference” for her vision to integrate business and the community with “Tribute Care,” an inspiring Business Social Responsibility model for companies to enhance customer acquisition and loyalty by participating in cause-related charitable giving programs.

Jody is based in Southern California and has three children and four grandchildren.

Justin Bonsignore
Bonsignore Racing Team

Justin Bonsignore, an 18 year old high school senior from Holtsville, NY, is ready to take the racing world by storm. Justin’s career in racing began 10 years ago at the age of 8. His father Tom, along with his uncles Bill and Frank, have owned and operated one of the top kart racing shops in the country, providing karts, parts and championship winning engines for over a decade. With their guidance, he made his first start in a kart at Medford Speedway on Long Island and finished 2nd. Two weeks later, he was in victory lane for the first time.

In 1997, Justin started his first ever National event at the famed Rockingham Motor Speedway. His first National event win came a short time later in East Lansing, Michigan. Over the next six seasons, he would compete in six National Championships and win three Grand National events at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. His resume includes 17 National event wins, 11 poles, and 38 top five finishes in just 71 career National starts. He ended his Karting career on top with 5 straight feature wins and two championships in the same year.

In 2005, Justin stepped up from karts to begin his stock car career in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series at Riverhead Raceway. Throughout his 2005 campaign he scored one pole, one heat race victory and finished third in the championships standings, the highest position ever by a rookie. He was also proud to claim the NASCAR Rookie of the Year title.

Throughout his career, Justin has learned the value of cultivating relationships with sponsors and has used his success to create and drive forward the marketing efforts of many national companies. Justin is presently competing in the NASCAR Modified Division at Riverhead Raceway.

Mike Dickerson
Sports Car Club of America
Region Development Manager

Mike Dickerson has been SCCA Region Development Manager for four years and a former sales director and customer service manager.

Mike has been an active SCCA member for 16 years in almost all forms of activities: National competition racing license holder, Solo driver, ralliest, road racing flagger and steward. Professional race series support include Formula 1, ChampCar, ALMS, Grand Am Cup, Trans Am and NASCAR. Former Regional Executive (two years), Region Membership Chairperson, and Editor.

Mike is currently directly involved in planning and structuring SCCA programs related to site acquisition, Formula SAE relations, SCCA Region management training and growth, and national convention planning seminar development. Edits and publishes print and web version of SCCA’s Inside Line, an internal management newsletter for SCCA Region Executives.

Jeff Bressler
News Director and Anchor
Motor Trend Radio

Jeff Bressler is the News Director and Anchor for Motor Trend Magazine’s Motor Trend Radio, heard each Saturday and Sunday on over 160 stations across the nation as well as on Sirius and XM satellite. Jeff also serves as the motorsports anchor, product reviewer and frequent guest host on Auto World, heard each week on the National Radio Network. Jeff was the first national radio reporter to break the announcement on the untimely death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. while reporting live from Daytona for WJR in Detroit.

Jeff writes a monthly syndicated column titled “Third Age Wheels” that focuses on automotive news and product reviews for mature drivers. His Third Age Wheels commentaries are heard each week on the National Radio Network.

Jeff is also a frequent writer for the Ford Motor Company’s cutting edge website Ford Bold Moves. He also provides feature automotive articles to newspapers and magazines across the nation.

In addition to his radio work Jeff is the track announcer at Long Island’s historic Riverhead Raceway. The oval is one of only 60 short tracks nationwide that is NASCAR sanctioned. In 2001 Jeff was voted one of the Top 10 racing announcers in the United States by Short Track.

Robert Burgin
National Hot Rod Association

Three years after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), Robert Burgin pursued his lifelong dream of competing in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racing. Today, Robert is a successful sportsman racer in the Southeast Division.

Drag racing was a lifelong dream for Robert, who fell in love with the wheel-standing muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s as a child growing up in South Georgia. After dabbling in drag racing for two years in college, Robert promised himself that one day he would return to racing and compete at a higher level. However, his dreams of racing were nearly destroyed in 1994 when he was diagnosed with MS. Robert did not let the diagnosis slow him down. He bought his first race car one month later and competed in bracket racing for two years before becoming licensed in Super Stock. In 2000, he completed his first full season of national competition, finishing 51st in national Super Stock points standing and 8th in the NHRA Southeast Division II. Robert also performed well at the US Nationals in Indianapolis, winning the Super Stock GT/BA class and racing to the semi-final round in Super Stock eliminator.

Thanks to a combination of medical treatment and physical therapy, Robert remains in good health today. He continues to perform well in regional and national drag racing competitions. He finished the 2004 season 54th in national Super Stock points standing out of more than 800 drivers, 3rd in the NHRA Southeast Division II, and scored a win in Super Stock in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at South Georgia Motorsports Park. He says that drag racing combined with Avonex and physical therapy has improved his condition. Robert hopes that through racing, he can inspire other patients with MS to pursue their dreams.

Steve  “Wheels” Bucaro
Custom Truck Designer

Steve “Wheels” Bucaro, of Palmdale, California specializes in modifying trucks and is heavily involved in the custom truck scene. His work is well-known within the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) community and his modified trucks have won numerous Best of Show events nationwide.

After Steve was spinal cord injured in a motorcycle accident in 1998, he decided to take his life-long passion for automobiles to the next level. He purchased a 1999 Dodge Ram Sport Quad Cab truck, outfitted it with hand controls and transformed it into a dream machine chock-full of added goodies that would make most car enthusiasts envious, including custom audio, suspension, and dual exhaust systems, 22-inch wheels, and a fully modified body and paint job. Steve gained fame and a number of trophies for his truck’s unique design and customization. Steve was soon hungry for a new challenge, and developed plans to modify a 2003 Ram. He presented his ideas to Daimler-Chrysler, who took notice of Steve’s original work on the 1999 Ram and passed him the keys to a 2003 model. Steve’s 2003 Dodge Ram project was nothing like the industry had ever seen. Thanks to the help of a long list of sponsors and a whole lot of hard work and networking, Steve’s design ideas and concepts took shape…in a big way. His 2003 Ram took center-stage at SEMA with a butterscotch-orange paint job, 24-inch wheels, adjustable suspension, a rear driver-side suicide door to improve accessibility, a custom interior, and a ton of body work and other extra elements that immediately won the hearts of everyone who saw it.

Steve credits his injury with giving him a new focused approached to life, which can certainly be seen through the energy and enthusiasm he has put into his custom trucks.

Motorsports News and Articles

Solo Car Racing: Adaptive Sports Just Got Faster

Car enthusiasts with disabilities nationwide now have a sport to get excited about. By Tom Scott…

2006 Tire Rack Solo National Championships
United Spinal Association Joins the Sports Car Club of America at the 2006 Tire Rack Solo National Championhships.

Partnership with Sports Car Club of America
United Spinal is proud to announce its partnership with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).

United Spinal Partners with NASCAR Driver
In an effort to promote safe motoring United Spinal recently partnered with Long Island’s Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified Division Driver Justin Bonsignore.

Publications in PDF format
(Adobe Reader required)

What is Adaptive Automotive Equipment?

United Spinal Motorsafe: Safe driving starts with information.

Motorsafe Motor Vehicle Safety Bookmark

For more information about our Motorsports program, call 800.404.2898 ext. 239 or e-mail

What is Adaptive Automotive Equipment?

Adaptive automotive equipment offers people the means to regain the freedom they may have lost due to a disability. They must learn to operate adaptive automotive equipment in the same manner as people who drive with standard equipment and there are a variety of modifications available to enable drivers to motor safely across the country or across their neighborhoods. The ability to drive allows individuals with disabilities to stay active and it immeasurably improves the quality of their lives. Whether commuting to work, buying groceries, taking their children to school, going on vacation, or competing in adaptive sports, people with disabilities rely on adaptive motor vehicle equipment to keep them in the driver’s seat.

Below is a list of common adaptive automotive equipment designed for people with disabilities:

    1. Break and Accelerator Systems. These include mechanical hand controls, powered brake/throttle controls, left foot accelerator, reduced effort brakes, and pedal extensions.

    2. Steering Systems. These include reduced effort steering mechanisms and emergency back-up systems, which enable drivers to safely and comfortably maneuver their vehicles.

    3. Driver Position Equipment. This type of equipment includes power transfer seats, removable driver seats, transfer assists, seat cushions and straps, all of which help maintain proper balance and driving position.

    4. Vehicle Access Devices. These include lifts, ramps, raised door openings, lowered floors, power door operators, and raised roof systems, which greatly improve the accessibility of many vehicles. Other devices include 4-point wheelchair tie-downs, battery protector/back-up systems, wheelchair and scooter hoists, and suspension system modifications.

Driver Training

Mandatory driver training is a key element in the proper utilization of adaptive equipment. Certified driver rehabilitation specialists and technicians throughout the country are responsible for training new drivers with disabilities. Training involves educating individuals in the proper use of adaptive equipment, evaluating their abilities and performance, and developing their competency in a full range of driving environments to prepare them for obtaining or retaining a driver’s license.

High Performance Equipment

Adaptive equipment and vehicle modifications are not only used for getting around town. Improvements in technology and reliability have also opened the door to a new world of adaptive sports opportunities for people with disabilities. Participation in motorsports such as the Sports Car Club of America’s events are growing in popularity. More and more drivers with disabilities are discovering that, with the proper modification of their vehicles, they can be equally competitive. Some professional drivers utilize state-of-the-art, customized, hand control systems; others have taken their love of motor vehicles to new heights, using adaptive technology to create custom modified cars, trucks, and motorcycles for show.

Adaptive motor vehicle equipment provides individuals with disabilities from all backgrounds the freedom to continue to pursue their hobbies, discover new ones, and remain active participants
in society.

The quality and availability of adaptive motor vehicle equipment has dramatically improved over the years. There are more people with disabilities using this type of equipment than ever before. Here are a few statistics:

The 1990 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS-D) estimated that there were 299,000 adaptive equipment users living in the US, while a 1995 NHIS-D survey estimated 510,000, an increase of 211,000 users over a 5-year period.*

In December 1997, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated the number of vehicles modified for those with disabilities to be 383,000. The number of vehicles with adaptive equipment is expected to continue to increase as the US population ages and as access to employment, travel, and recreation continues to improve for persons with disabilities, as a result of the ADA.*

In 2000, the Census Bureau estimated that roughly 25 percent of the 51 million Americans with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 74 were employed. The 1995 Census estimated that 25.9 percent of the 2.3 million long-term users of mobility equipment in this age group were employed—almost 600,000 individuals.*

To learn more about adaptive equipment please visit

*U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Statistics-Update on Safety Issues for Vehicles Adapted for Use by People with Disabilities, March 2004.

For more information about our the United Spinal Association Motorsports program, call 800.404.2898 ext. 239 or e-mail

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