Recently I had the chance to speak with Chris Hacker and get to know him a little better. But who is he and why should you be paying attention to him?
One of the first things that make Chris stand out is that he has a Brachial Plexus injury. As far as I know, he is the only NASCAR driver that has one, and if he isn’t, he is the only one that talks about it. Chris received this injury at birth. His Brachial Plexus injury has caused nerve damage in his left arm, and mainly affects his range of motion, but it does affect the strength in his arm to a degree. This has been a challenge at times for Chris as he tries to advance his NASCAR career, although he states it’s “normal for me” since he was born with the injury. Chris admits that sometimes he needs to have the steering box adjusted to compensate for the limited range of motion, but it’s not always necessary. He also admits that starts and restarts are a challenge as he must shift quickly and get his right hand back on the wheel. He also knows that as he advances his career, road course will be a challenge due to having to shift through turns. I’m confident that Chris will rise to this challenge just like he has risen to all the other challenges he has faced.
Another challenge that Chris has faced has been funding for his career. His parents fully funded his racing up until he was 16 years old but were unable to continue doing it after that. At that time, Chris had to get out of the seat for a few years and find ways to fund himself. Chris was able to get enough money to fund two ARCA races, Phoenix in 2020 where he finished 15th and Charlotte this year where he finished 10th. Chris also said he intends to have the funding for a Camping World Truck Series race at some point. When I asked for more details on this he simply stated, “I can’t really give out too many details, but it will be this year.”
So how did Chris get interested in racing? The same way any other guy does, he grew up watching NASCAR with his dad, who had raced the local track circuit. His favorite driver? Jeff Gordon. But Chris said he really wanted to race when he was at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds the summer before he turned 8 watching quarter midgets. He told his dad he wanted to try it, and the rest is history. Chris began his racing career at 8 years old in the quarter midgets. At 9 years old, he moved up to Bandoleros until he was 11 years old, raced in the Legends series when he was 12, said he knew when he was racing Legends that he wanted racing to be a career “instead of a hobby.” At 13 years old, Chris had to write a letter to the director of the CRA so that he could compete in the series driving Late Models.
Growing up in Noblesville, Indiana, Anderson Speedway was his home track while driving Late Models. While Chris says this is his favorite short track, it has had its ups and downs for him. On July 6, 2013, when Chris was only 13 years old, he was involved in a massive crash at Anderson Speedway. As two cars spun in the middle of turns 3 and 4, the car in front of Chris checked up, but wasn’t able to stop, and crashed into the two spinning cars, sending it backwards to land on top of Chris’ car. When I asked Chris what goes through a driver’s mind during a crash like that, he stated, “Those big wrecks are kind of something you’re going to have to expect when you’re doing this sport.” Though shaken up a little after the crash, it wasn’t going to stop Chris from continuing with his dream. As soon as the car was able to be repaired, he returned to Anderson Speedway on July 19th and won. That is determination.
And determined he is. Chris told me he plans to move to North Carolina sometime in the winter to focus more on his racing career. He talked about how his parents have always supported his dream and how he watched his dad work hard to get where he is today. Chris said, “You got to work for the things you want in life.”