MOORPARK, Calif. -- Land Speed Record holder Pat Rummerfield, whose recovery from quadriplegia is rated as a modern medical miracle, is bounding down the speed record trail again.
Rummerfield will drive a roadster in quest of American class records during the upcoming Bonneville Speed Week trials at Wendover, Utah, Aug. 12-18, in a vehicle built and owned by veteran speed merchant Gil Gillis of Moorpark. It's called the Xtreme Freedom Special. Gillis already holds gasoline and fuel-burning records in the 2-liter G Modified Roadster class driving the same car.
Rummerfield will race the Extreme Freedom Special powered by a 3-liter Toyota engine in the F Modified Roadster class, where the existing records are 239.199 mph and 251.299 mph in fuel- and gas-burning classes.
The car will make its run for the record on Goodyear tires. Goodyear is the world's most successful tiremaker in land speed history.
Rummerfield is the Director of Development for Kennedy Krieger Institute's International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, an affiliate of John's Hopkins. He holds world records for the electric-motor-powered streamliners set six years ago at Bonneville. While speed is the immediate challenge, his more important goal is to call attention to the efforts of the Kennedy Krieger Institute's International Center for Spinal Cord Injury researchers and clinicians to end the suffering brought on by spinal cord injuries and to raise money for their work.
Rummerfield set the electric car world record of 245.523 mph in 1999 and an American record of 251.322 mph the same year. In 2000 he was presented ESPN's highest award for courage and perseverance in amateur athletics, the ARETE trophy.
Barely surviving a traffic accident in 1974 near Kellogg, Ida., Rummerfield spent 17 years in painful therapy regaining the use of his arms and legs. Once back on his feet,
Rummerfield he drove himself to recover proficiency in his favorite sports -- skiing (broke his leg the first time out), running and swimming.
His first 5K (3.1-mile) run, he came in next-to-last, but he finished. That set him on a course to become a triathlete. He climaxed that effort by finishing the legendary Ironman in Hawaii in 1992. In 1999 he became the first recovering quad to enter and finish the Antarctic Marathon.
Rummerfield and Gillis met and bonded during stock car races at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. Gillis was attracted to the driver, because his own son is driving mini-sprint cars in Oklahoma and Texas despite the handicap of suffering from cerebral palsey.
Gillis, who works in the commercial credit card industry, was a U.S. Air Force bombardier in a tactical unit during the Vietnam War. After Sept. 11, 2001, he and USAF veteran buddies conceived the Xtreme Freedom Racing Team idea to flaunt their patriotism and support of U.S. military action against terrorism.