Showers, Reggie 1964–
Reggie Showers 1964–
Reggie Showers has been clocked riding his motorcycle at speeds up to 188 miles per hour. Since his start in professional drag bike racing in 1989, Showers was a contender in the International Drag Bike Association (IDBA), winning a world championship and setting 14 records. He returned to drag racing in 2000 after some time off and became a contender on the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) circuit. The record-setting, winning motorcycle drag racer also was a double-amputee, having lost his legs from the knees down in an electrical accident as a teen. Jet magazine called Showers “the world’s fastest-moving amputee.”
Showers was born February 6, 1964, the youngest of six children. He grew up in an inner-city neighborhood in West Philadelphia. His fascination with bikes began when he was six years old, after his older brothers went to Vietnam and left their motorcycles behind in the family garage. He would climb on the bikes, flip the switches, and imagine he was riding. At age ten, his parents bought him his first dirt bike, a Honda 75. “When I started to ride it around,” he said in an interview located online at the Bennet-Tec Information Systems website, “I never imagined I’d be racing one day. I was a casual rider who only did it for the fun of it.” Showers raced his dirt bike with the neighborhood kids at a nearby dirt track that was adjacent to a railroad track. The kids regularly rode the dirt trails and played on railroad box cars.
On Memorial Day 1978, his dirt bike was broken, so Showers rode his bicycle to the track to hang out with his friends. Bored watching his friends on the track, he went to play on the box cars. He jumped onto a tall box car and came within the electrical field of wires hanging overhead. The high-voltage electricity arced through him, knocking him out. His friends found him and got help. He had suffered second-and third-degree burns on his arms and lower body, and his legs were severely damaged. Everything below the calf muscles on both of his legs had to be amputated. After spending two months in the hospital, Showers spent the rest of his summer in intense physical rehabilitation. Though he could hardly walk straight, he went back to school that September. He eventually learned to use prosthetic legs as well as he had used his own.
Showers was embarrassed to be a 14-year-old who used a cane to walk. At a baseball game the year of the accident, he discovered he could walk without the cane when a friend asked to use it. “That’s when I realized I could do anything I wanted to do if I put my mind to it,” he said in an interview with Jet. “I wasn’t going to let my disability stop me.” Showers also avoided the self-pity he could have felt after losing his legs. “I never once questioned ’Why me’ in pride,” he said in Jet. “To me it was a calling from God; it was His will. I looked at it as an adventure.”
After the accident, his parents were adamant that Showers not get back on a motorcycle. But, he told Jet, he “still had motorcycles in the back of [his] mind.” He saved up money working at his father’s grocery store and bought his first street motorcycle, a 1978 Kawasaki 900, after high school graduation in 1982. He stored it at his girlfriend’s house to keep the bike a
Born Reginald Showers on February 6, 1964, In Philadelphia, PA; children: one daughter, Autumn. Education: Attended Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
Career: Began drag racing professionally, 1989; won International Drag Bike Association world championship and set 14 world records, 1990; returned to drag racing on National Hot Rod Association’s Pro Stock Bike division and finished in 11th place, sponsored by Prosthetic Design, Inc., 2000.
secret from his parents. Shortly after buying the bike, Showers accepted a challenge to his first drag race, which he won, and he was hooked. While studying communications at Philadelphia’s Temple University, he spent weekends at a New Jersey drag strip, learning about riding techniques, practicing, and discovering how to modify his bike to suit his body. He found that positioning the foot pegs differently worked better for him.
Foot-peg modifications weren’t the only custom changes Showers sought. As he got more into drag racing, he began to build his own pro street bike, with which he set two world records and won the number-one plate in his class. He began competing professionally in 1989 with the International Drag Bike Association (IDBA) and built an even faster motorcycle. Showers initially kept his disability a secret from his competitors. “At first, they didn’t even know,” he told Bennet-Tec Information Systems online. “They treated me just like any other new guy.” His first year out, he won a world championship and set 14 records, some of which remained unbroken. The next season, he won the number-two plate.
After a long time away from the sport, Showers returned to drag racing in 2000, which he called his “second rookie season,” according to an interview online at Dragbike.com. Showers teamed up with Prosthetic Design, Inc. (PDI) to sponsor his own team. PDI provided Showers’s state-of-the-art prostheses and, in exchange, PDI engineers got feedback and engineering data from his use of their products on the track. He also was sponsored by Damp Rid, Inc., a manufacturer of a moisture-absorbing construction product, whose name adorned Showers’s racing leathers.
Showers finished two points shy of a top-ten standing in his first season racing the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Pro Stock Bike division in 2000. That disappointing close finish inspired Showers to remain even more focused for the 2001 season. “Racing a pro stock bike with my disability is a very hard thing to do,” he told Dragbike.com. “Pro Stock Bike racers feet and lower legs play a tremendous part in the overall stability of the race bike…. Some racers take this occurrence for granted. We all have certain ’parameters’ that we have to abide by in life. I just have to make minor adjustments in order to go down track just like everyone else.” Showers is a single father of a daughter, Autumn. He also owned RS Motorsports Group and wants to become a professional motivational speaker.
Jet, April 23, 2001, p. 34.
Bennet-Tec Information Systems, http://www.bennettec.com (May 17, 2001).
Dragbike.com, http://www.dragbike.com (May 17, 2001).
National Hot Rod Association, http://www.nhra.com (July 17, 2001).
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