In Jan. 2009 I had a severe heart attack and was intensive care for several days and in the hospital seven, came home for three days then back in the hospital for six more. I didn't talk or communicate at all for weeks and I couldn't walk or sit up. Everyone thought I wasn't responding because of the heart attack until one morning my Wife of 40 years (we were high school sweethearts and married the summer after graduation) parked my wheelchair at the breakfast table and was standing with her back to me at the stove. Out of the blue I asked if she was married which was probably the first sentence I had made in weeks. Her response was ( you know we have been married for over forty years ). I said No you are not my Wife and where am I at. She said this is our home and you had the house built yourself. After I said No This Is Not My Home, you knew something was wrong. After two MRI'S it was obvious I had had three strokes within a month or less.
I had suffered 100% total memory loss and could not walk or even sit up and I had the mentality of probably a 4 year old. In a few weeks I kind of came out of the fog and I was overwhelmed with a thirst for knowledge. No I did not regain my memory and I didn't know who my two adult Daughters were nor my five Grandchildren, Mother and Dad who both have passed away since then but I started reading every book in the house and my Wife would order me three or four books a month especially on topics of American and World history and the history of American wars. I watched CNN and National and World News but I never mentioned cars or watched car races or car shows on TV and cars had been a big part of my life. One Sunday my two Daughters rolled my chair around our circular drive to a building up behind the house. When they rolled me in and turned on the lights I was overwhelmed by the cars and truck inside. I didn't really know exactly what kind of vehicles they were but I promised myself that I would drive again. I get about fourteen car magazines per month and the stack of unreads had gotten quite high and all of a sudden I wanted to read them all. The first one I Picked up was HotRod the bible of all car magazines. In it was an article about Landspeed racing on the Maxton Mile under the sanction of the East Coast Timing Association and I was so intrigued by the challenge of running as fast as possible just man and machine against the track that I vowed to myself that I would make one run down the track and do the best I possibly could and my 2003 SS Silverado could do but first I had to get out of the wheelchair and learn to drive again. I hated the wheelchair with a passion and the fact my Wife had to almost lift me out of the chair and into her van then load the chair up. I had a home therapist come to the house three days a week for a while and she had me do ten leg lifts with each leg, neck exercises, arm and shoulder etc. but I was somewhat limited because I found out I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Desease about eight years before the heart attack and my legs and arms were stiff and weak from that. I started gradually working my way up to where I was doing a hundred leg lifts and leg marches with each leg. I lifted both arms over my head and stretched them a hundred times during the day and night scattered out and I started lifting 2 lb. weights. Then worked my way up to 6 lb. weight and was lifting them 100 times each way in three different directions. It wasn't long until I was able to start using a walker and my family would carry me to the local high school parking lot in the evenings and weekends. I treated the lanes between the parking places as a road and stayed on my side and timed my stops at the end of each one like it was an intersection. After six weeks I was allowed to drive home from the school and graduated to start driving on county roads then to the interstate that runs through our rural county.
I called Keith Turk with the East Coast Timing Association and found out kind of how the events at Maxton were held and ordered a rule book. I needed some experience driving at faster speeds slowing down and turning off on to a return road. I called several driving schools but they were very expensive and I saw an ad for Paradise Dragstrip which was celebrating fifty years in business and still under ownership of Otto Timms the original builder and his family. When I called the number Mr. Timms had passed away a few months before but when I explained that I wanted to make several runs with someone riding with me and observing and if I did a good job of vehicle control, breaking etc. that he would write a letter to that effect. A week later Lee Timms bravely climbed aboard with me as I made eight trips down the strip. Now my biggest hurdle lay ahead of me, getting my family agree to let me carry out my dream. When my Wife realized how much running the Maxton Mile meant to me she reluctantly agree but I had to find someone she trusted to go with me and do most of the highway driving. My Daughters were a bit harder to convince but I did make them realize the importance of the goal was to me.
In Sept. Of 2010 my Brother In Law David Wilson and Grandson Luke a Dewberry left for Maxton, NC. Remember the potato chip commercial that one chip wasn't enough well one trip down the Maxton Mile wasn't either. After four runs I was told I was only about 1.26 MPH from breaking a landspeed record but there was nothing I could do.
The next month, Oct. would be the last Maxton event ever held and after convincing by my Grandson we decided to go back for the record. I bought a cold air kit and a handheld tuner, taped up the grille and after eight months from the time I got out of a wheelchair for two years I had set a new landspeed record.
Since then I have increased my speed by ten MPH and have set a total of six landspeed records, my Wife and I have renewed our Wedding vows and I am grateful for each morning when the sun comes up.