Five Questions with Brian Hanaford of Accessible Racing

NEW paint scheme on the hot rod, I gave up the hood for South Boston logo in appreciation for acknowledging what we are doing

Brian Hanaford recently submitted one of his Accessible Race Cars for our virtual car show and we knew we had to find out more about his story. Check out all the cool things Accessible Racing does HERE!

1) How did you get started in this industry?

Initially, my father, Harold “HardLuck” Hanaford won Ken Squire’s inaugural Milk Bowl and again repeated Wining both the third Milk Bowl and several track championships along the way. He raced in the Permatex 300 back in 1966, Squires aborted the COUPES the next year (Flathead Ford in pic) for cars people could identify with driving down the highway.

HardLuck & Me pic with the crew; Ed Doggett, Bob Webber, and Sam Baker

Dad came back and crew chief’d for Fred Lapprad, self-made man and owner of Cooley Asphalt Paving. Cooley was a part-owner with Squire at Thunder Road, Squire convinced Lapprad to buy a Buick Skylark from Bobby Allison’s crew chief Lee Hurley and bring the first Buick to Victory Lane. By high school in had enough of washing parts and sweeping floors, started chasing skirts (cheerleaders) earned my own headlines in the paper, and won 10 varsity letters in 12 attempts. I was a runner, it was fast enough to earn the Hershey’s State Jr Olympic Mile Championship in 78 or 79

I got in a car accident that was a game-changer, left me with a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and temporarily paralyzed. I’m couldn’t do what was once natural. I slipped into isolation and depression, alienated people with self-pity alienated people…. addiction and suicidal thought followed suite.

I tried the marriage thing and failed miserably, couldn’t even be a good Dad as hard as I tried. Life lessons where always about money and headlines, both were long gone. Nearly 25 years of misery came to a screeching halt just prior to 9-11-01. I was partners in a driving experience with a couple of Busch North NASCAR guys to provide sales incentives for sponsors to position products with sales incentives and reward retail outlets for exceeding sales from the previous year. The sponsorships weren’t as easy to find as expected, I eventually bought out both partners with Mom & Dad’s support.

Eventually, I hit some big sponsorships with Pepsi and Walmart

Walmart in-store display attached; Me and Rich Hughes, NASCAR Hall of Famer Ken Squire suggested I reverse numbers from Gordon’s famed #24 to #42 so I was clear of infringements

I was proud and wasn’t intimidated by BIG DOLLAR sponsors or guys like Jeff Gordon, in fact, I considered it a challenge to say here I am, you better be careful or ill steal your lunch…Notice that Pepsi Billion dollar promotion?
Funny story, I convinced a regional independent PEPSI distributor from Lebanon NH to jump on board for a journey that would involve Walmart and Chris Wood. In three months we were making some noise, Rich Hughes (Pepsi plant manager) increased Pepsi sales 246.7 % from the previous year at Chris Wood’s (Lebanon NH, Walmart store). We gained interest from 3 or 4 other bottling groups in Maine, NH, and Massachusetts’s. PROBLEM was we didn’t have Corporate blessings, So Rich went from the hero with excellent sales, to unemployment because….believe it or not, Pepsi sold exclusive show car appearances to Jeff Gordon. Jeff Gordon sub-contracted show car appearances to a company that couldn’t book any events in NH, curing cup, week cause we had everyone booked. God strike me dead, Jeff Gordon went to Pepsi and Pepsi dropped the ax on Rich Huse. Rich went to work for Coke to feed his family, I heard some Walmart guys went to jail for squeezing vendors (The program grew and attracted interest from Corporate America included power players benefiting from slotting feels and increased sales. In less then 3 mos we cultivated interest from KRAFT, KEEBLER, NABISCO, COCA-COLA, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AND MANY MORE, GREW FROM RACE TRACKTHEME TO GOLF COURSES AND COMEDY SHOWS we killed it, my time had arrived.

Walmart move in like a bunch of Ninja’s at 2 am, notice hoods say Billion Dollar Pepsi promotion? I had them provide paint and vinyl to be free from ant legal liabilities

That’s when I met Cam Shaw-Duran, he was in a wheelchair playing pool, laughing ~ joking, and enjoying life. It was natural for me at the time to assume he was drinking or smoking something that I wanted. if I had to rough him up to get what he had it was game on as far as I was concerned. I was miserable for 25 years and was ready to get a lesson in life from a handicapped guy, Cam Shaw- Doran was the seed of growth that would change my life.

Its a story in itself, but Cam came up to my driving experience for ambulatory people and brought his friend Body Miller. Ya know the ski guy from Franconia? I never heard of this ‘BODE MILLER’ guy that Cam was talking about, evidently, he had just won the Super Stars competition on National TV and Cam couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of him, in fact, cam asked, “did you grow up in a cave”?

2) What is Accessible Racing? And what’s the best part about it?

So when Cam drove his Audi into my driving experience with this Bode Miller character riding shotgun I immediately thought I was deceived by the wheelchair. Turns out my own ignorance was the fickle finger of faith, my first exposure to hand controls for persons with disabilities to regain mobility post-injury. I was more impressed by Cams Audi and acceptance of his new parameters post-injury than my driving experience. One could hear Cam screaming in ecstasy over the sound of the motor on a third-mile track. When best friend Bode helped Cam exit the car tears were streaming down his cheeks. That was the defining moment and birth of Accessible Racing, when planes hit the tower we were doing a driving experience at New Hampshire International Speedway on 9-11-01, Now known as NHMS. One of our Veteran driving instructors, Dynamite Dave Dion left his shop in Pelham NH and headed Home to VT, he said “We are headed for a conflict soon as we discover who is responsible. I hope the guys coming home (from battle) are greeted with a lot more respect then we came home to (from Vietnam). Dave Dion and Billy Russel are the main reason we (Accessible Racing) do what we do for disabled Vets as well as other physically challenged civilians.

Cam and I with Bode & Stub Fadden

The direct answer to what is Accessible Racing, AR is designed as a mobility program to help physically challenged individuals regain daily living tools and improve quality of life after injury, build self-confidence and avoid making the mental list of things one can no longer do.

Shriners Hospital pic of a patient using a gaming wheel with hand controls

My personal experience dwelled in that dark area for almost 25 years, AR is a fast track to avoid isolation, depression, addiction, and suicide with social networking.

3) You recently designed a new simulator to help people regain mobility post-injury, can you expand on that?

Tommy “The Tiger” Baldwin told me a long while ago, “Everyone (sponsors) wants to find the next Jeff Gordon or Richard Petty. You have to work the media, same way you work on your racecar to make it faster…you got to have the media find something unique about your program in order to position product, increase sales or somehow advertise benefits that make the cash register sing. You have to focus on off-track promotions to compliment on-track success. There’s not a ton of TV so your message has got to deliver and that means getting creative to make the news.”

We had to have something sticky to keep generating interest in the bigger story at trade show displays, Lee Perry (Driving Aids Development Corporation, Vienna Virginia) developed hand controls for a standard gaming wheel and big screen on a 6-foot table at the first trade show. I had countless good intentions that never materialized from the Mom & Pops guy to Logitech. in 2019 I had a Donald Trump, “hold my beer” moment, went back to school at the University at 57 years old and was set to lead the third largest St Patrick’s Day / Evacuation day parade in South Boston Massachusetts. I knew opportunities like leading St Pats parade was HUGE, and might not come around again in my lifetime unless I capitalized. My goal was to get invited year after year and not just a splash in the pan. My Mom paid to get the bodywork and paint job, the simulator was coming down to the wire but ready on to demo.

Skoal Bandit car builder Quint Boisvert told me once his secret was ole school, “show me don’t tell me” That’s the secret sauce, the simulator allows physically challenged to experience Mobility again.
NEW paint scheme on the hot rod, I gave up the hood for South Boston logo in appreciation for acknowledging what we are doing

The wheel would be the benefit disabled Vets and we would recognize this with a visit to VA Boston Spinal Cord Injury West Roxbury campus to build hype for Vets that are tied into Evacuation day parade. I also scheduled our friends at Boston Shriners hospital for kids, we had plenty of media attention to promote the EVENT, the EVENT was to bring attention to the gaming wheel at VA or Children’s hospitals. The Hospitals are the storefronts to access the market, the therapist is the KEY players to carry a message to administrators and patients. The driving experience is the Willy Wonka experience to help hospitals distribute benefits to patience and fundraising sponsors. If GI Joe next door lost his way in battle, this is a way to feel good about doing something to get him into a social network and new lease on life. Position product, create halo effects for product vendors, and increase floor traffic for retail product vendors and retail outlets.

Gaming wheel set up for a demo, this is the real deal, patent pending

4) What are your plans for Accessible Racing in the future?

The future is NOW when Boston was canceled it was a perfect storm because I was trying to convince the University we needed an NDA that didn’t scare off the VA Boston network, I knew for a fact I wasn’t going to Boston to watch a parade, I knew from experience we would be the headline act. I also knew we needed the protection of legal properties. The postponement allowed the natural evolution of partnership with the University, Commercialization plan with Tremonti Consultants to justify the need, licensing for manufacturing and distribution of wheel due in 30 days. We are on the clock NOW, but getting answers during this Coronavirus Pandemic is like nailing Jello to the wall. But we are coming with lots of momentum.

Soon as we have firm facts we will go shopping to the boys in New Brunswick (Canada) Sure Grip hand controls is the largest manufacture and distributor in North America with global retail outlets in Vietnam, UK …places I never heard of. We also reached out to Larry Connell, Chief Of Staff at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs but don’t expect to get any attention until Recreation Therapist at VA medical centers and Model Rehabilitation start buzzing about us. We will start 2020 at a short track in Groveton NH with the Monster Trucks, perfect event to film for our partners at Rendever.com, they film virtual experiences for distribution in elderly housing communities in 39 states and 3 countries. This will provide us with the excitement to bring to our existing interest at VA Boston and James J. Peters Bronx VA (1 of 7 Regional Amputee Centers, they disseminate medical therapies to 1,400 VA Medical Centers Nationally. We have our focus on International Paralympics. Two friends have been with me threw thick and thin and will be instrumental in communications and planning moving forward. They give me direction, there the main reason I developed the relationship with the University and designed something tangible that deliver benefits instead of barstool conversations.

Dave Baskin was the founder and Director of Disabled Shooting Services, #110 inductee into USA Wheelchair Hall of Fame and 1996 – 2000 Chairman of International Paralympic Committee.

Woody Groton was one of the original Wounded Warrior Project and Manager of the Soldier Ride. Lt Colonel Groton has over 20 years of experience as a military officer.

The ‘show me don’t tell me” example is in the RESNA presentation by Dr. Jeffrey Heckman…

5) What is your favorite thing to go fast in?

BED, sometimes have a hard time shutting the brain off and going to sleep.

My friend Nancy Doughty’s 57 Chevy is my dream ride, it may not be as FAST as it was, but its got GREAT CHARACTER, I’m at the age where old is still good.

2 Comments on Five Questions with Brian Hanaford of Accessible Racing

  1. In 2001 I stated having mobility problems and was not diagnosed with Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy until 2007. I was rapidly heading towards live in a wheelchair. By 2009 I decided enough was enough , let’s see what we can do about “quality of life”. After some research I decided to have Stem Cell therapy. My first was almost instant success but short term. In 2011 I had a 2nd treatment in 2011 at a Miami clinic usin*. 6 own stem cells, with a much slower start (6weeks) but what a change. My energy level shot way up to a 40’s age level and it’s still there, but somewhat diminished , but I’m still walking. I have never let my disability get in my way- my motto “It may slow me down , but it won’t stop me”. What is my secret? Stubbornness, my love of motorsports and always being the salesman. I have been running my own road race car and road race team since 1971, Racing my 70 Ford Cortina GT, that I have owned since new, but now with son, Mark, doing the driving chore. We have had few victories, our share of heartache but we sure have our fun and the strong bond with my son. Throughout this affair with MD I have discovered that I have the unique ability to design and fabricate equipment and methods of compensating for my disability- e.g.: if I fall due to my disability (balance) I cannot get back up on my feet, so I got an electric bath seat, put casters under the seat, built a poly ramp , attached to the seat with a removable pin , added arms from a wheelchair and placed a rubber mat all to help me get up on the seat. I then raise it up too I can then stand up. At this point in time it no longer rises high enough so I am now waiting for a pair of HD inflatable cushions which I will hook up to a 12 volt compressor from a car seat bolster. I have designed a power step for use on my F350 to help me get into the drivers seat, based on design a friend designed for his Dad’s Chev 1/2 ton. This winter I purchased a Hoyer Advance patient lift and the plans are to make up a very simple harness designed to stand me back up on my feet. My one disappointment has my decreased ability to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission as my left leg is getting too weak to push in the clutch pedal in. I went looking for a possible solution – either find a supplier or manufacturer to come up with hand control for the clutch pedal or buy a suitable automatic. Well the 2nd won out and I purchased a 2010 Ford Flex LTD at a very good price, fixed what was wrong so it passed vehicle inspection and now driving as my main vehicle. The 6 speed Altima will now be sold.
    So in my case there is no depression, nor will there be any. Life is grand!! I may be 73 but every day I make a point of learning something new everyday, read or video some incident pretaining to Military history and Racing history

  2. Pretty much the same questions I asked you when we first met in NMMS. Met Dave Deon and becam great friend. The we went to Limrock and I can tell you how many laps we made before the ride tired out. But it was great meeting so many of your friends, peeps and challenged racers. You run a great program brother and I hope all the priced fall in place for ya!

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