1972 Chevrolet C-20 Longhorn Build
I grew up in a small town in western Michigan, on a 10-acre ‘hobby farm’. As a young kid, I spent my days feeding the horses and goats, collecting the eggs from the chicken coop, and stacking firewood for the wood stove. When I was done with my chores and school, I played any and every sport I could get my grubby, little fingers on: from baseball to track, wrestling, basketball and then.. soccer became my full on passion. I grew up around sports and later in life became identified as an extreme athlete.
My sophomore year in high school, during my off-season of soccer, I was involved in a traumatic car crash coming home from a training session. I lost control of my car on an icy curve, hurling my car into a tree and crushing my spine upon impact. I spent five days in intensive care including reconstructive surgery to my vertebrae. Then, another six weeks in a rehabilitation hospital, learning how to live life from a wheelchair. My soccer career appeared to be finished and life was going to be a whole different game from now on.
Fortunately, I was visited in the hospital by two disabled mentors, both of whom were near the same age as me. Both were going to school and living life independently even though they were disabled. This, coupled with my recreational therapist being adamant about bringing me to practices and tournaments of different wheelchair sports, gave me hope and desire to realize I could still have the rush of competing I desired, and I could return to the environment I loved so much.
Once I was discharged from the hospital, I began a rigorous physical therapy regiment and pushed my body harder than ever before. I had wheelchair racing in my sights and I was going to be a competitor once again. I entered my first race less than six months after my injury date, and continued racing for two years before switching to basketball during my senior year in high school. I played one season of junior ball before going to college in Arizona and being recruited by the Phoenix Suns wheelchair basketball team. I had found my home once again, just on a different type of “playing field”.
With my focus on my next game or race, I trained to be faster, stronger, and all the while making, unbeknownst to me, daily life even easier. While I was training for a 25K race transfers out of my bed and rolling up a hill in my everyday chair were much less of a challenge. My health was better and I spent a lot less time in the hospital or even being sick, for that matter. People I’d met during my competitions became the best of friends and mentors. I was back!
Very early on in my new life, I was asked to visit other kids in the hospitals whom now faced the same daunting realization I did not all that long ago. I didn’t think I had it all figured out yet myself, but I was determined to help — however I could. I knew the difference it made to me when someone showed me that life was not over just yet, and I wanted to give that same spark to anyone and everyone. It was time for me to spread my knowledge and passion. I was going to be the one to pay-it-forward.
After years of playing every wheelchair sport at my grasp, I moved to the less orthodox and more extreme sports. I left the courts and started really pushing the limits of my mind and body, pushing past my fears in the air and sea. I began scuba diving and sky diving with groups across the country, and even climbed a rock wall here and there. I was always trying to better myself in any and all ways. Additionally, I wanted to find new ways to impart this new-found joy onto others I met along the way.
Fast forward a few years and a lifetime of experiences to when I meet the powers that be at Triumph Foundation. For the last 4 years, I coordinated and ran multiple monthly ride clinics, introducing the sport of handcycling to individuals with spinal cord injuries. I have also worked with various other organizations such as: Think First Injury Prevention, Alpha Resource Center, and Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, lecturing at numerous schools, events, and attending support groups to provide peer support, and mentoring to individuals with spinal cord injuries.
This soon-to-be resurrected old work horse needs to be put back in front of the plow once again, so to speak. In 1972, this truck started its life as a hauler and spent many a day with its extra-long bed filled with all manner of materials or carrying the family camper to destinations all over. Now, over 45 years later, it is getting put back on the road and back to doing what it does best. This time around it will be hauling bikes, skis, kayaks, and all sorts of outdoor gear all over the western United States to events promoting activity and adaptive adventures for people with disabilities. I will be taking the necessary knowledge, experience, and equipment to those in need.
Adrenalin Fix will play an integral part as a presentation piece, hauling equipment to events all over the countryside. This particular model of truck was sought out for its size and classic style. I have always loved this era of Chevrolet trucks for their simple, strong lines and timeless style. The extra-long bed was specifically chosen to fit the long stature of the modern handcycle safely and securely inside the bed, along with all the necessary tools and gear (canopies, tables, etc.).
Adrenalin Fix is getting the thoroughbred treatment, with an upgraded modern driveline front to back, and all the modern power/convenience options in the interior. As for the body, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” applies, keeping its work truck style with beefy wheels, towing mirrors, and one-ton cab lights. All of the previous mistreatment of the body panels will be massaged out and a fresh coat of paint satin black laid down.
As the gas prices hover around $3.00/gallon here in California, with no real relief in sight, the power plant of choice is a late model, fuel-injected 5.3L V8 LS-platform mated to a strong 4L65E automatic transmission spinning the driveshaft and set of more highway-appropriate gears inside the rear end -- all in the effort to make everything run as efficiently as possible.
The suspension is getting the full custom upgrade of coilovers in the front and rear, along with stronger anti-sway bars in the front and rear. In order to tame the beast a bit, the brakes are getting converted to disc all the way around with high-clamping calipers on each corner and a hydro-boost power-assist.