Product Spotlight: Get Into Gear with ZeKenetic

Zeke Massie is a car guy. Has been since the tender age of 7 when his lead-footed Grandma used to careen though the back streets of upstate New York.

And while the 1994 motorcycle accident that left him a T5 complete paraplegic may have changed his life, it didn't change his passion. Now this retired Marine has launched ZeKenetic Foundation, a Georgia-based organization determined to prove to other wheelchair-using motorsports enthusiasts that…once a car guy (or gal), always a car guy (or gal).

Man paddling adaptive paddleboard.

"My motto is adapted from my days in the United State Marine Corps 'adapt and overcome' and used on a daily basis to make my dreams happen," said Zeke.

While in rehab, Zeke was both excited and relieved to see another patient in a wheelchair access a big truck. "I don't have to have a van. I don't have to have something slow. I can have a racecar," he realized. "And if I can have a race car, there's so much fun to be had."

Following his accident, he searched for a vehicle that could match his active lifestyle and hold his daily wheelchair, sportschair and handcycle. When he found his first Volvo sportswagon, a 1996 850R, he fell in love with its handling, power and reliability. Since then, Zeke has owned and modified several Volvos, including a rare yellow 1995 T5R which he adapted and used in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) autocrossing. He also drove his daily driver, a red 1996 Volvo sportswagon, in the Panoz Racing School at Road Atlanta, one of the world's best road courses.

His reputation as a smooth, consistent and capable high-performance driver grew, and so did his expectations of his track vehicles. It was his love of supercharged driving which led him to find his wife, Alicia during a track driving day at Road Atlanta. A couple years later, their shared passion for track driving and desire to make high-performance driving and go-karting accessible led them to found ZeKenetic.

"I want to give back to the community—the brotherhood of guys in chairs—to show the newly injured that there is a sport, an activity, a hobby, they can pursue in which there is a level playing field," Zeke said.

"On the racetrack…the only way they know I'm handicapped is my license plate as I pass them."

ZeKenetic Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity integrating the motorsports community and wheelchair users, was launched in 2012 in collaboration with Randy Pobst, successful racing driver for teams such as Freedom Autosport (Mazda MX-5), K-PAX Racing (Volvo) and TPC Racing (Porsche). ZeKenetic Foundation's goal is to maintain a fleet of accessible, adapted track cars to serve as student cars to teach other drivers who are paraplegic and quadriplegic the complexity of track driving, and its benefits in daily street driving. Additionally, ZeKenetic Foundation is excited to soon provide rental karts with hand controls at Atlanta Motorsports Park's concession kart track and at Andretti Indoor Karting.

Being able to drive a well-maintained, dedicated track car outfitted with safety devices and permanent hand controls gives wheelchair users the confidence to try a sport that has been fairly inaccessible up to this point. Hand controls retrofitted on go-karts and offered to any wheelchair users wishing to try karting allow friends who are able-bodied and have disabilities to spend fun times racing against each other on a level playing field.

Always striving to achieve higher levels of accessibility, ZeKenetic is now offering HotLaps around Atlanta Motorsports Park's race track. HotLaps give people of all abilities the opportunity to experience the track from the passenger seat. The cars used for the HotLaps may be one of the following: BMW M3 with hand controls, Porsche 911 Carrera (manual transmission, no hand controls) or Zeke's personal high performance car, the only street-legal widebody Volvo S60R. This is a powerful and fast machine, gutted to reduce weight, upgraded with an aggressive tune, race seats & harnesses and hand controls. For years, the car proudly wore a Marine Corps inspired custom flat olive drab paint job, but is now moving towards a Harrier Jet-themed paint scheme. All track cars are garaged at Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville, Georgia.

Man paddling adaptive paddleboard.

ZeKenetic Foundation will bring its student driver 'race' car, a BMW E36 M3, to the Abilities Expo Atlanta for "show & tell." This track car is outfitted with racing seats, racing harnesses, a safety roll cage and hand controls. The M3 will share display space with a hand-controlled go-kart modified and manufactured by Stratos Karts, an Alpharetta, Georgia-based kart design shop and manufacturer. Stop by booth #709 to see and touch the go-kart and track car, and to talk to Zeke about his upcoming projects.

The foundation is seeking donations from corporations and individuals to help maintain and develop specialized high performance track cars and go-karts, and install permanent hand controls, racing seats and harnesses. Contributions in the form of consumable items, such as tires, brake pads, rotors and fluids are always appreciated. Supporting ZeKenetic Foundation puts you at the forefront of integrating people with disabilities into the world of motorsports.

Find out more about ZeKenetic Foundation online at www.ZeKenetic.org or on Facebook. You can get in touch with them via Facebook, alicia@zekenetic.org or (678) 907-9719.

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