Saturday, December 24, 2011
Disabled Marine veteran designs Sprint Cup car.
By Seth Livingstone, USA TODAY
November 12, 2011
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Although confined to a wheelchair and unable to use his arms, Marine veteran Scott Bates will be very much in Sunday's
Kobalt Tools 500.
His Veterans Day design, created with a head-controlled, reflection-operated mouse, rides with J.J. Yeley on Front Row Motorsports'
Vampt-sponsored No. 38 Ford Fusion.
In addition, Sunday will be proclaimed Scott Bates Day in the state of Arizona, honoring the inspiration of Bates, 48, who suffers from
"This is what I've always wanted to do — design a car for the Cup level," says Bates, who saw his paint scheme after competition for the
first time on Saturday when Yeley turned a lap at 128.98 mph in qualifying. "It's incredible. I can't believe it's happened."
Bates, from Muskogee, Okla., not only learned graphic design, he's learned to do it by operating a sensor attached to his computer which
reacts to his head movements. The system permits Bates to choose shapes, colors, shades and strokes.
"You have to have determination to get ahead in this crazy world," Yeley said. "Here's Scott, a normal guy who had no issues, served with
the Marines for a couple different stints, then ends up with M.S. in a wheelchair. Yet he still has the fight not to give up. It's a huge
inspiration to me."
Passionate about auto racing, Bates started by designing templates for video games and produced a paint scheme for an ARCA car that
wrecked in a practice run and never made it to race day.
"God took away one of my abilities to show me a new way," said Bates, who was joined at the track Saturday by wife, Kathy, daughter
Valerie her husband Tim and two of his six grandchildren. "I never would have taken the time to learn (graphic design) if I hadn't been
sitting in this chair and had to retrain myself to do something to occupy my time. I couldn't bear just sitting and watching TV or surfing the
Internet. I wanted to do something."
Vampt founder and chairman Ian Toews heard Bates' story and enlisted him to design his Veterans Day weekend car.
"Not only are we recognizing him for his military service, but the design itself is a patriotic one that pays tribute to all veterans," Toews
said. "We will all be very proud to stand beside it on Sunday."
Bates' design features and American flag and the message "Vampt Nation Salutes Our Nations' Veterans" on the deck lid.
"It's one thing to see the design on a computer or printed out, but in-person it resonates very well and shows up well on the track," Yeley
says. "My plan is to try to run as fast as I can, try not to put any scratches in it and make Scott proud on Sunday."