Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Kevin Sloan: The Come Back Kid!

Kevin Sloan in his A Mod. facebook photo.

Silver Lake, KS – Who doesn’t love going to the movies and sitting down and watching the underdog defy the odds and make history? Come backs and long shots are what people want to see. Nobody cares if the Yankees win every single year. Fans want to see the Rocky Balboas of the world. Seabiscuit, Rudy and Roy McCavoy bring people to the edge of their seats, not Donald Trump. This year in the racing community fans will have a new underdog to root for; Kevin Sloan.

Lets go back a little bit, back to 2007 at Central Missouri Speedway.

Kevin Sloan looks more like a basketball player than he does race car driver. He stands about 6’4, he walks with confidence and he looks like he can run the 25 laps of the Modified a main before he races in it. Sloan walks through the pit area with a smile on his face and he excited about being at the race track. It all is about to change.

As Sloan headed out to the race track, his life was about to a tragic turn.

Kevin working in hotlaps in his A Mod - facebook photo.

“I’ll never forget that night,” said Sloan, “It changed my life forever. I never got knocked out, so I remember it pretty well. From the time I bicycled, to me landing on my roof and to being on the way to the hospital.”

Sloan experienced something that a driver worries about maybe even more than death itself, being permanently disabled. His injuries were severe.

“I broke my C6 (vertebra), and I have an incomplete C-8 spinal cord injury,” said Sloan, “My arms and chest aren’t affected, but my fingers and chest down are. I can’t feel hot or cold, but I do have some sensation. For the first month, I was in the hospital and I couldn’t move my fingers or my legs at all. One day I could wiggle my toe, to five months later being able to walk short distances with two canes. I didn’t make a full recovery, but I’m thankful for what I have now!”

Most athletes, and people for that fact, revisit thoughts in their heads about an injury they sustained. Going back to that race night, could Sloan have done something different? Would a different line made the difference? What if this hadn’t happen to me at all? It’s common to think about these things and Sloan is no different than most people. He has learned how to cope with those feelings of what happened.

“I used to do that (think about the accident), but not so much anymore,” Sloan commented, “I think it’s pretty normal to think “what if” after something like that happens to a person, but worrying about it isn’t going to make it better so I’m trying to move forward the best I can.”

It was a long period of time that Kevin sat in hospitals waiting to get better. Five months went by as he worked and waited for his body to respond. Little by little, he was showing signs of improvement. Just like an athlete, at any level, he began to have thoughts running through his head. He is a competitor, a guy who could do things that he wanted, when he wanted to, but now he wasn’t in control. It was a tough predicament. Just thinking about it as I right this story is tough to think about. It has to be an excruciating experience.

“During the last 5 years I’ve battled depression,” said Kevin,”For me that’s been the toughest part about this, it’s not the physical part it’s the mental part. There were times that I never wanted to see a race car again.”

I would call it a success story if Kevin Sloan continued to be the guy he is now. He’s always got time to speak with people, he is back at the race track and he is still with us! That to me is a success story.

Kevin gets into this new B Mod at Lakeside Speedway's practice day - facebook photo

Last winter people started to talk about Kevin Sloan making a comeback! When you here something from 1 person you tend to dismiss it easily and after you start hearing about it from several folks you start taking notice. Two weeks ago at practice, my brother John, the track announcer at Lakeside, said that he watched a fast B Mod but didn’t seem to know who it was. As he went to investigate in the pit area he found out who was behind the wheel, Kevin Sloan.

Talking to people that were at the practice on that day, the consensus was the Sloan looked very good for someone that hadn’t been behind the wheel of a race car in some time. My only thought was where did this idea come from?

“This past fall Buz (Kaster) gave me a Dirt Modified magazine to read. One of the articles was on Zach Hensley. He drives with hand controls, and that’s how we started to think about actually doing this,” said Sloan, “I talked to Zach quite a few times this winter, when we were figuring them out. I am glad he helped us out. They (the controls) work great, but it’s definitely going to take some time getting used to them.”

Sloan's old/new ride for 2012 - facebook photo

It’s a wild idea, but what seems to be an even wilder twist to the story is where he got the car!

“The car is actually my ’07 Hughes car I had my wreck in,” said Kevin, “It only had about 16 nights on it when I wrecked so I wanted to try and fix it. They had to cut the halo off the car to get me out, but Buz did a great job in replacing all the bars. Other than that we just sandblasted it, painted it and put it back together.”

Sloan’s new ride is a complex one. Countless hours of work and prep went into getting it ready to hit the track. Kevin said that Buz Kaster, Dave Hemme, Mark and Willy Schafman deserve a lot of credit for getting him back out this Friday night at Lakeside Speedway. The car turned out really nice and the group had a lot of late nights working on it.

For Kevin to pilot his B Mod, there is a bar that he uses his right hand with a motorcycle ‘twist’ throttle attached to it. That same bar has another bar going down to the brake pedal. He will twist for gas and push for the brake. Kevin also has a button mounted to the steering wheel that runs a fresh tear off over his shield. As both hands are occupied, he won’t have time to peel a tear off from his shield, like most drivers. Simple enough? Yeah right.

Hitting the track for the first time, since his accident might have been just the medicine he has been searching the past 5 years for!

“It was awesome!” exclaimed Sloan, “When I ‘twisted’ it to the floor for the first time it wasn’t the same as what I was used to with the A Mod motors, but it’s what I need to get back into the swing of things. I had to do this for myself. I needed to see if I could do it now or not. I didn’t want to have any what ifs down the road. Luckily, I’ve had really good support from everyone so far, especially my close friends, and family. My dad has been really involved with me racing since I started back in ’05. He’s excited for me to do it again too.”

Friday night is closing in and practice time will be over for Kevin Sloan. His journey is worthy of a Hollywood screenplay. It has all the twists and turns that you would want to see. Sloan’s is a story that tugs at your heart and makes you become a fan of this racer. It doesn’t matter whether you like him or not, whether you were or weren’t a fan of his before, his story is an amazing one. Sloan’s racing goals for the 2012 season are simple. He wants to start at his own pace and move up as he feels more comfortable. The most important thing to him right now is to get laps and from there he hopes to get faster each and every week.

I don’t know who will get a chance to play Kevin Sloan when his story hits the big screen, but for know Kevin Sloan is back and he knows it!

“I sure hope so,” said Sloan on being back, “I had a really good time in practice, and have the bug back in me to race again. We’ll see how we do this year and go from there. Being back around my car, and helping on it where I can has really helped me on the mental side of things. Without good friends, and family this wouldn’t be possible for me to do, I can’t thank them enough.”

Welcome back Kevin Sloan! We missed seeing the 21K on the track.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: