Born without both arms, Richie Parker has spent his whole life beating the odds, from riding a bike as a child, driving a car, and becoming a successful engineer at Hendrick Motorsports, one the most successful teams in the history of NASCAR. When most people would use such a disability as an excuse why they cannot do things, Richie used it a fuel to prove his doubters wrong.
Parker, a Beaufort SC, native and 2009 Clemson University graduate, has always loved cars and when he found his dream car, a 1964 Chevy Impala (that he still drives to this day) he discovered how to adapt it with a foot mechanism that allows him to steer it.
“When we were trying to figure out how I could modify a car, I was told by a few different people, ‘Well, if there’s a bus in your area, or if there are taxi cabs, then that’s all you need to do. You just use that as your transportation.’ But that just wasn’t me.”
Parker pursued his love for cars in 2005 through a 10-week internship with Hendrick Motorsports which he applied for through NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, and he hasn’t looked back since. Eight years later Richie is still with Hendrick as a chassis and body component designer.
“Based on his resume, I knew he could do the things that I needed him to do, it was more a question of how,” said Rex Stump, engineering manager at Hendrick.
Richie, who makes his designs on the computer with his feet, admits that the job is demanding but like his whole life “no” is never an option.
“It’s very demanding. When we have somebody like [crew chief] Chad Knaus that comes back from the racetrack and he says he needs something next week that’s gonna help him win a race, then ‘no’ is never the answer.”
You can check out ESPN2’s feature on Richie Porter’s inspiring story below.