Joseph Plowman,Polaris RZR 900

Overcoming Adversity

The Inspiring Journey of a Paralyzed ATV Racer

By Melissa Sulivan, Contributing Writer

In the world of off-road racing, adrenaline-fueled adventures often come with an element of risk. For one resilient individual, Joseph Plowman, a passion for ATV racing turned into a life-altering experience after a devastating accident left him paralyzed. However, this is not a tale of defeat; rather, it’s a story of triumph and the indomitable spirit that defies physical limitations.

Joseph, was an avid ATV racer known for his love for the thrill of off-road racing. One fateful day, everything changed during practice. “While I was practicing at my local Motocross National Morelands Motocross, I jumped my Scrambler 850 off the jump “Big Gnarly”. I made the gap but in the air, the front of the quad lifted up. On the landing, the rear touched first bending a rear strut, causing the front end of the quad to be slammed down, which sent me over the handlebars, getting myself run over by the 1000 lb. quad.” That unforeseen accident left him with a spinal cord injury, drastically altering the course of his life.

Joseph Plowman,Polaris RZR 900

“After that, I got an ambulance ride to Carson City hospital then a neat Aero-med ride to Butterworth hospital. After my surgery, I was at Mary Free bed rehab for about a month.” The doctors delivered the heartbreaking news that he might never walk again. ”I went home to start a long process of recovery and getting used to a new chapter in my  life.”

Instead of succumbing to despair, Joseph chose a different path. Determined to defy the odds, he embarked on a journey of physical rehabilitation and mental resilience. Though the road to recovery was challenging, his unwavering spirit shone through. “It took quite a while but I got over my fears because of my love for racing.”  He wasn’t ready to let go of his love for the sport. With a newfound perspective, he discovered adaptive off-road vehicle that could accommodate his needs. “I bought a 2013 RZR 900xp to see if I would like driving one, I fell in love with it. “

Joseph Plowman,Polaris RZR 900

Enter the Polaris RZR 900, a high-performance off-road vehicle that became his ticket to freedom. Customized to meet his specific requirements, that RZR 900 provided him with the means & confidence to get back on the track and pursue his passion for off-road racing. “I drive with two driving sticks, one for gas and one for brake, [that are] made for cars and trucks. Super easy to install and much lower cost than a custom set up and available on Amazon. They are called QuicSticks®.“

Being behind the wheel of that SXS, he not only regained a sense of freedom but also returned to the racing scene with newfound determination.  “I was itching to get back into racing when I had stumbled upon The Trail Master Challenge at Twisted Trails. So I grabbed my friend Kendall Van Putten as a co-pilot and dad Joe Plowman was the pit crew/mechanic(the man who made it all possible) and we headed to Copemish Michigan.”

The Trail Master Challenge is where I had the pleasure to not only meet Joseph, but race with him. We were about to head out on a 7mile track through the woods with varying terrain. I was quite nervous myself and I’ll never forget the moment I realized his situation.

I was in complete awe of the ability for someone with such a “disadvantage” to try something so challenging. I had to meet him and after talking to him, I was completely inspired! He was nervous just like me but his excitement and spirit were unlike anyones I had ever met. Here I was thinking driving a NA 1000 YXZ on 27” tires against turbo RZRS was going to be a challenge… How about doing it in an even more underpowered, smaller SXS, driving with sticks?!

Joseph Plowman,Polaris RZR 900

“I was very nervous but after the first challenge started, I fell in love with side-by-side racing. It felt natural to be back on the tracks since I started racing at 10 years old. Fast forward to today, I’m still racing, hitting the dunes, trails, and thankful that I still have my arms to participate in this awesome sport that gives me my freedom back.” . We have raced SXS together several times since that first race and he always can be found in the pits smiling and positive, regardless how the race goes.

“My most memorable moment would be my first Red Bull Snow Scramble. It was a bone chilling day in February with huge snow drifts and a slick icy course. My dad rented a U-haul box truck for the three of us to make breakfast and stay warm. We had no studs in the tires (everyone found out we could use them about an hour or so before the lineup). We almost finished that race but lap 4/5 broke an OEM ball joint and we had to be towed back.”

Joseph Plowman,Polaris RZR 900

In the face of life-altering adversity, his story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. His journey from tragedy to triumph, powered by a love for off-road racing stands as an inspiration to us all. As he continues to tear up the tracks in his Polaris RZR 900, he not only races for victory but also for the countless others who find strength in his story. Every lap is an inspiration to others facing similar challenges (or any challenge), proving that resilience and passion can triumph over adversity.

“No matter what happens in life, it still goes on. You just gotta keep looking forward towards those checkered flags.”

2 thoughts on “Overcoming Adversity”

  1. His dad. His mom and his sister, give him all the love, support, and encouragement that is needed to make this adventure called life a meaningful experience , not only for Joseph, but ,anyone who might come up against the odds of a disabling encounter.

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