Technology Drives Eric Saunders’ Passion for Racing

Eric Saunders (in black 349 car) zooms around turn 4 in a heat race Saturday night

It was a big night at the Plymouth Speedway Saturday – not only because three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart won a Sprint on Dirt Winged Sprint car event by a narrow victory, but Eric Saunders got to compete in the 600 mini winged sprint event.

Saunders said he’s pretty excited about the opportunity to race, especially since a Motocross accident left him paralyzed. Tony Stewart has helped him in his dream to race.

Crews work on Tony Stewart's sprint car (L) and Eric Saunders' race car

“I used to race Motocross and I got paralyzed in 2010,” said Saunders. “He’s [Tony Stewart] helped me out since I was five years old. We still have the team together, Tony Stewart Racing, and I’m really grateful that I have him supporting me and everyone else who supports me too.”

His race car is specifically designed for him to drive.

“I’ve got a 600 Mini Sprint and it’s all hand-controlled. It’s pretty neat. I never thought I would be doing this and look at me now. I’m out here racing my Mini Sprint!”

Saunders says technology has enabled him to drive his car.

“I’ve got my throttle on my right hand my brake on the left. Without technology, I wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Despite having to live in a wheelchair, he doesn’t have a dampened spirit about racing and he could serve as an inspiration to us all.

“If you put your mind and your heart into it, you can do anything that you want and that’s what I believe in. Your brain is definitely the strongest thing in your whole entire body. I’ve overcome a lot of stuff – a lot of difficult things in life, but I just make the best out of it.”

He’s planned to go forward with his racing career.

“I’m just going to start out in the 600 Mini Sprint and then I’ll work my way up. I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring me, but I’m just going to give it 110 percent and be fully committed to it. It’s definitely a challenge, but I’m going to make the best of it.”

He fell short of a victory Saturday night, but it’s a victory for Eric to be able to race at all.

Saunders is the track promoter at the Plymouth Speedway and he’s got quite an event planned in October.

“I’ve been talking with Travis Pastrana about getting the whole Nitro Circus here October 6 and 7. I’m just setting up stuff like that and getting big people in here and drawing a good fan base.”

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Tony Stewart checks his car before the race
Stewart checks the gauges in the car