he’s been tinkering ever since, improving the control system and
“I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital and actually start working
on it,” Parsons says. “That was definitely what kept me going, the
possibility to make [this a reality] when I got out.”
The result is a 2,500-pound beast powered by C12 VP racing
“The car to drive is literally a handful, but with some seat time
it’s very controllable and fun to drive. The V8 screams like the
heartbeat of America,” says Parsons, who has some wry humor
about his own creation.
In an email in which he waxes poetic about the car, this
sentence ends with “lol.”
Parsons built the car from the ground up, but the hand control
system was not something that had been taken into account by
any of the original parts suppliers. That he had to incorporate
himself. The key was making something that could replicate all the
functionality of the acceleration and brake foot pedals, while also
allowing quick shifting and the use of the hand brake.
“The system I made was completely standalone from the car’s
mechanical functions itself,” he says. “The biggest challenge in
incorporating it was making something comfortable for me to use,
basically replacing the functions that would be controlled by four
limbs and having it controlled by two hands. Clutching, shifting,
handbrake, steering, gas are all controlled by two hands instead
of four limbs. I went back and forth with how the controls should
work, but in the end I came up with a really good comfortable
system that is ergonomic to use for drifting and racing.”
He could base some of the hand controls on a hand control he
already had for his everyday truck, so was able to replicate those.
However, the clutch, gear shifting, and buttons had to be changed.
“I went through about four different iterations for the clutch
handle to make that work... I went from very prototype concepts to
something that was more comfortable to something that was easy to
manufacture to something that was smaller and more affordable with
better electronics,” he explains.
“The very first one I did with the clutch system went through
a lot of iterations mechanically, but once I made it, the proof of
concept one stayed in the car for two years and worked really well
the first time until I decided to make some crazy changes. Then
I’ve been changing it. Just last week, I made some contacts in
the computer programming world, and we wrote about 100 lines
of code that changes the whole clutch shift to a semiautomatic
clutch system. I will be trying it this weekend. It all works on the
bench, so we’re putting that in. So I’m starting to understand
more of the programming side, which is all about asking someone
who knows more about it than I do.”
In this case, that person is Karl Castleton, professor of
computer science at Colorado Mesa University. Together, they
decided to use the programming language MicroBasic.
While the throttle is an electronic drive-by-wire setup straight
from the factory, Parsons worked on his own motion control
systems on the shifting and clutch boxes to actuate the clutch and
shift gears more quickly.
Find the Sensors that are Just
Based on a Nissan 180SX, the 650-horsepower Chairslayer drift racer was created by Rob Parsons to get
himself, and other people without full use of their limbs, back into the world of high-performance driving.