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Chris Hacker, his left arm weak, looks to speed his way into the Cup series | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Chris Hacker holds the steering wheel of his car race differently from the rest of the pack.

His left hand is positioned at 11 o’clock, his right at 4. That’s not the standard positioning, 10 and 2, that other NASCAR drivers use. They have two perfectly good arms, with a complete range of motion. Hacker, due to a birth injury, does not. His left arm can only do so much.

His last of three surgeries gave him the freedom to lift his left hand to his forehead and stretch his arm forward 50 percent of the way.

That, however, won’t keep the 23-year-old Indiana native, from devoting his life to stock car racing, see how far he can go. He’s competing in the Ambetter Health 200 Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That race is part of the Xfinity Series, just one step below the big league of NASCAR, called the Cup Series, held on Sunday.

Hacker hopes cup racing is down the road, but first, he’ll need to prove himself in the XFinity tour as well as the Craftsman Truck Series, which is ranked third among NASCAR’s three national touring circuits.

For now, Hacker is juggling his time between Xfinity and trucks, running a limited schedule in both. Perhaps one day, he’ll rise to the top and compete in the Cup Series, where millionaires and celebrities are born.

His aces in the hole are his 14th place finish on the Xfinity Series this year at Richmond Raceway. He also finished 12th in a truck race this year at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

“Yes, the goal is to get to Cup racing one day,” Hacker said Thursday as he drove from the airport to NH Motor Speedway in Loudon. “If I can get another top 15, that would be cool.”

He’s got a good story to tell. The one about the kid trying to work his way up the ladder, searching for sponsorship and a great pit crew and a chance to join the series that Dale Earnhardt and fellow Indiana resident Jeff Gordon, Hacker’s favorite driver growing up, once dominated.

But Hacker’s story contains a bit more. Doctors underestimated his weight before birth, believing that the baby would weigh eight pounds, maybe seven. Instead, as an 11-pound boy, a C-section was needed but not performed. Hacker, too big, got caught in the birth canal.

He ruptured his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae and developed scar tissue in the C-7. He underwent three surgeries by the age of 7. He underwent nerve grafting and had a tendon transferred from his calves and ankle. His physical therapist became his babysitter.

Diagnosis: brachial plexus injury, or BPI.

He said he struggled with minor activities that we all take for granted. Buttoning his shirt. Applying deodorant. Tying his shoes.

“My parents were devastated when I received it during birth,” Hacker said in a memo promoting a support group that helped him cope. “They knew I had a long road ahead of me involving painful surgeries and physical therapy, as well as physical limitations that most kids don’t have to deal with.”

As Hacker described by phone, “The main cause is my shoulder and head were going in opposite directions when I was born.”

He was bullied in school and often wore long sleeves. The nerves that control the muscles in his left shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist and hand had been severely damaged, yet Hacker chose to pursue race car driving when he reached age 13. While he rooted for Gordon on Sundays, Hacker’s father loved Tony Stewart. Hacker wanted to be the one on TV.
He worked his way up the lower racing divisions, adapting to steering and shifting.

Hacker is experienced at driving with limited mobility to the point that it no longer affects his speed.

“I let the hand hang out and it goes for the ride,” Hacker said. “During cautions, I will use my left hand to steer to give my right hand a break.”

His two top 15 finishes in limited action might be enough for his sponsor, Morgan and Morgan law offices, to open its checkbook to spring for a ride on the Cup Series. He also received a settlement from the hospital, money that can help him reach his goal. He declined to say for hows much, adding, “It will help.”

“If I’m doing Cup in three years, I’ll be a happy camper,” Hacker said.

And he’s going above and beyond. He wants to create a platform to show kids that they can achieve virtually anything, even drive a race car at 150 mph with one good arm. His sponsor will love it, showcasing a representative, a role model, with an altruistic nature, always good for business.

“I can help others,” Hacker said. “I can show them they can do what t  hey want to do in life.”

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