Paralyzed Driver Striving for Indy 500 Appearance

By Renae Juska
Mitch Stringer- USA Today Sports

Racing isn’t the most popular sport in the world, yet it is one of the most dangerous. Most cars in the IndyCar racing circuit can reach high speeds of 120-155 mph. I understand that all the drivers do is sit there and steer the car, but they are putting themselves in danger every single time.

Michael Johnson began his racing career by participating in dirt-track motorcycle competitions until he got into a near-death experience at the young age of 12. On August 13th, 2005 Johnson was competing at Hiawatha Horse Park in Ontario when he attempted an inside break to gain the lead spot when he ran out of tear-off sheets for his face shield.

When he tried to wipe off his helmet, he hit a rut and veered off the track, smashed through a fence and then flew over the handlebars. Johnson came out alive, but with a broken collarbone, right ribs, left ankle and left leg. On top of that, he fractured his T5 and T6 vertebrae, causing paralysis from the mid-chest, all the way down his body.

This near-death accident isn’t stopping Johnson from racing. He is now racing in the USF2000, and hoping to race in the Indianapolis 500 one day.

Now at the age of 20, Johnson is the perfect example of an inspirational story. If his dream of making it to the IndyCar Series comes true, he will become the first paralyzed driver to ever participate in an IndyCar event.

If it wasn’t for his motorcycle background, it is likely that Johnson would not even be able to race a car. He has been using a modified car for the USF2000 circuit, and has been approved for IndyCar racing as well.

It’s been a long journey for Johnson, but his hopes of making it to the Indy 500 are looking very achievable at the rate he is going.

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