Paralyzed sprint car racer wins first race with help from Tony Stewart

An inspirational story of a racer who beat the odds and with the help of a superstar, made his dreams come true.

Paralyzed sprint car racer wins first race with help from Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Tony Stewart Racing logo
Tony Stewart press conference for his return to racing
Tony Stewart in action in his winged sprint car
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Chevrolet

October 4th is a day Eric Saunders won't soon forget. The 22-year-old sprint car racer won his first feature race in northern Indiana on that night. It's an impressive feat for anybody, but even more so for a person who can't even walk.

The day

To understand his story though, we have to go back ... Four years and 36 days exactly ... All the way back to August 29th, 2010. Saunders was an up and coming motocross rider and this date changed his life forever. He crashed; something common to motocross riders who are always on the ragged edge and pushing the limit. This time though, Eric didn't get up. He was paralyzed and lost the use of both his legs.

Stewart lends a helping hand

A lot of people reached out to the family in support of course, but one person in particular that stands out. His name is Tony Stewart.

Yes, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion who has had his reputation torn to pieces by ignorant people who have no idea who he is. He was the man involved in the tragic accident that cost Kevin Ward Jr. his life.

Well, back in 2010, he reached out to this family. He told no media, made no statements ... He just did it. Before too long, Saunders had a new 600cc sprint car with a steering wheel equipped with hand controls. After nearly two years of recovery, Saunders finally got his chance to race again and his biggest fan (Tony Stewart) was there to watch him.

A dream come true

Another two years after that, Saunders rolled into victory lane after attaining a life long dream, a dream he would have never reached had Tony Stewart never picked up the phone. 

 

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