COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — “I’m just like everybody else here racing,” avid dirt-track racer car driver Charlie Ray Howell said. “I don’t want to be treated no different.”
However, Howell’s driving experience is different from the others. He was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic bone disorder, and on March 12th, 2010, suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident, leaving him paralyzed below his knees.
“I never did actually get depressed on anything. It was more of what do I have to do myself to learn to get back to myself. I did a lot of ‘I don’t want nobody to do nothing for me let me learn it the hard way. Let me do it myself,” Howell said.
It took two years for Howell to get back in a car and on a track after learning to drive with only his hands. However, he never planned to give up. Racing is what Howell does, because as he would say he’s “brittle not broken,” and wants to race for those who can’t.
“Don’t get me wrong, they can, but it goes back to the physically, the mentally. It’s for them. I want people who say they can’t to say they can,” Howell said.
For Howell, pursuing his racetrack dreams isn’t about finishing in first place. It’s about being able to do what he loves.
“I’m a winner already. It’s not the fact of me winning every race or even winning a race. It’s the fact of I’m already a winner doing something that I love doing, ” Howell said.