Armless biker hits speeds of 160 mph
by Michael F. Vinning Wednesday, Published in Houma Today,August 5, 2009

Lance Jenkins is ranked No. 2 among pro-mod drag bike racer in the U.S.

Maybe it's that the Bayou L'ourse resident is the No. 2 ranked pro-mod drag bike racer in the U.S.; or that he runs the quarter mile in 8 seconds topping speeds of 160 mph; or possibly that in his most recent race, July 25 in Holly Springs, Miss., he walked away with the top prize. What's more impressive is that the racer does all this with one arm.

In April 2006 at a race in Reynolds, Ga., the Vidalia native crashed leaving him with a broken leg and minus one arm.

Jenkins' first words following the crash: "What was my time? Who won? How's the bike?"

Doctors told Jenkins, in addition to the permanent loss of his arm, he would never walk again. Six days later, Jenkins left the hospital and found the closest race.

"If I couldn't race, I was going to watch," he said.

But the route Jenkins took coming back from the crash hasn't impressed those closest to him; they knew he could do it.

"He doesn't let anything or anyone hold him back," said Jenkins' fiancee, Ambor Duval. "He is all around a better person since the accident, both mentally and spiritually."

His close friend, Bruce Spence agrees.

"Lance is 100 percent real," he said. "I knew this from the first day I met him. He does things that I would never even try as a person with two hands."

Jenkins said it was his competitive spirit and his faith in God that helped him persevere through the adversity.

"I was winning the whole world, but I was losing my soul," he said. "That's why my racing career isn't about myself anymore; it's about helping children who lost a limb or limbs to achieve their dreams and goals."

Not letting one arm keep him down, Jenkins has worked on helping others in similar circumstances. He said a young amputee, Kade Dempster of Baton Rouge, helped inspire him to try and help others. Over the last year, Jenkins has worked on forming a nonprofit, Lend-A-Limb Foundation.

"You know there are organizations to help kids with just about any disease, but there's nothing out there to help kids who have lost a limb," he said.

Jenkins said the more races he can win, the more sponsors he can attract and the more attention and money he can gain to benefit Louisiana amputees.

"It's important that children understand that their life isn't over because of their tragedies," Spence said. "If you want it, you can do it; and if you don't believe you can, come and see Lance race and see a true triumph of human spirit."

For Jenkins, racing started at an early age, and the fuel pumped through his veins.

"I ... have raced just about anything with wheels on it," said Jenkins, who was raised in a family of racers.

His father, mother and older sister all raced competitively at one point.

"My sister stopped racing around 12 in fear of being labeled a tom-boy, and I'm glad she did because she always beat the tar out of me on the track," said the motorcylce racer who started racing at 3.

At 18, Jenkins raced on the Pro-Am Super Motocross Tour, but after suffering two broken wrists, he began racing go-carts for RP Motor Sports, which earned him two state championships. Missing the thrill of top speeds, Jenkins turned to drag-bike racing - racing for teams such as Harley-Davidson of Baton Rouge, Lott Racing and then Valley Racing in Illinois.

At one time, Jenkins held five national records in three different speed classes and was named Racer of the Year by the American Motorcycle Racing Association in 2003. Jenkins also has earned two national championship titles. Jenkins now races for a Bayou Beouf-based team owned by Randal and Paula Andras.

"I was with Randal before the accident, and he and Paula have stuck by me 100 percent," Jenkins said. "They are as close to family as you can get, and I owe them everything."

Although Jenkins chooses not to wear his "normal" prosthetic arm during the course of his daily life, he does race with the aid of an electronic prosthetic.

"It's pretty high-tech, but it still doesn't allow me to feel anything in my throttle hand, which can be kind of scary," he said.

To watch Jenkins race, he'll be in action during the Halloween Bike Fest Oct. 25 at No Problem Raceway in Belle Rose. To see Jenkins race, visit www.americanmotorcycleracingassociation.com and www.fascoonassracing.com. To make a donation to Lend-A-Limb or for sponsorship information, call Jenkins at 992-9402 or mail to Rolling Stone Promotions c/o Lend-A-Limb Foundation, Lance Jenkins, P.O. Box 381, Amelia, LA 70340.

"I can't do anything that God doesn't allow me to," Jenkins said. "Never quit, believe in God and anything is possible."

 

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