RUMMERFIELD, GILLIS: SPEED A TOOL AND RECOVERY IS THE GOAL
CAMARILLO, Calif. (Aug. 12, 2005) -- Records are made to be broken. Pat Rummerfield and Gil Gillis are here to break them.
Rummerfield will climb into a Toyota-powered roadster on the world famous Bonneville Salt Flats this weekend and attempt to set a new land speed record for roadsters with three-liter engines. The effort is sponsored by Gillis, who has already set records in the same car with a different engine on board.
The men are united by a quest for speed and by the desire to pick up the pace in the search for improved medical treatment for spinal cord injuries. They use the land speed effort as a marketing tool to increase awareness of the work done at the Kennedy Krieger Institute's International Center for Spinal Cord Injury.
The Center is affiliated with Johns Hopkins and is located next door to the famed care center in Baltimore, Md. Rummerfield credits his recovery to the groundbreaking therapy developed by the Center's Dr. John McDonald. McDonald also worked with the late Christopher Reeve after the actor was paralyzed.
"I do it because I can do it and I want to do it," Gillis said. "I think what Pat is doing is good for people that need help."
Gillis, who lives in Camarillo, holds two land speed records for a modified roadster with a two-liter engine, one using gasoline and one using a more exotic fuel. A successful businessman, the 65-year-old Gillis met Rummerfield when they were racing stock cars at Irwindale Speedway.
Rummerfield, who lives in St. Louis and is the Director of Development at the Center, is already a land speed record holder. He set the mark for electric-powered streamliner cars six years ago, but now he wants more speed from the Gillis car and more public awareness of the Center.
Rummerfield, 51, is believed to be the only fully recovered quadriplegic. He has done all his land speed driving since overcoming the accident that nearly killed him in 1974. His recovery lasted 17 years.
His assault on the salt will not take that long. The records for the F Modified class, which is for cars with three-liter engines, are 239.199 mph for a fuel-powered run and 251.299 mph for a gasoline-powered run.
"We know that, from an engineering standpoint, the car can make speed," Rummerfield said. "But this is a new package for the car and we'll have to learn how the car reacts to everything we've changed on it."
The car, named the Xtreme Freedom Special, runs on Goodyear tires.
Pat Rummerfield, Gil Gillis and the rest of their team are expected to make their bid for history Aug. 13-15. More information on the team is available at www.Gilgillis.com. More information on the Kennedy Krieger Institute's International Center for Spinal Cord Injury is available at www.spinalcordrecovery.org.