Racing the tight, dirt track at the Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah at speeds around 80 miles per hour or more is tricky enough. Imagine having to do it without standard gas and brake pedals.
Dan Jones lost the use of his legs after he broke his back in a logging accident last year.
"I cut a tree down. I was topping it, cutting the branches off it, and a tree fell from behind me and hit me. One that I hadn't been cutting on or anything. The root system was bad on it, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Dan Jones.
To get his stock car back on the track this racing season, Jones' crew worked throughout the winter to modify his car.
"I kinda figured when it happened he'd be back. He comes from a racing family. He's raced for years," said Chuck Ihde with the Upper Iowa Speedway.
Chuck Ihde has known Jones for about 20 years. After the accident, Ihde and others with the speedway organized a fundraiser and collected $5,000 for Jones.
"That's another reason I wanted to come back. If they thought that much of me racing to do that, I wanted to try it again and see if I could do it," said Dan Jones.
Jones' car is now equipped with a collapsible steering wheel.
"We had to speed up my steering so I wasn't crossing my hands over. That took awhile. I caught on to the throttle pretty quick, but the braking is the trickiest. Remembering you have to push that steering wheel forward," said Jones.
On the track, Dan Jones seems to be adjusting just fine.
"Most of the time he's just as fast as the rest of them, and that class that he's in there's a lot of other good, good racers. They don't treat him any different now than they did before," said Chuck Ihde.
Although Dan Jones has had to change how he drives, it hasn't changed how he feels about racing.
"He's a fierce competitor. Always has been," said Ihde.
On the night we visited the track, Dan Jones won his heat race. He's proving you don't need your feet to be fast, you just need a little determination.
Races take place at the Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah each Saturday night through August 31st.
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