Earlier this month we had the opportunity to follow Karah Behrend out on the trails in her 2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2. Karah, a medically retired Air Force veteran originally made a name for herself in 2019 when she competed in the Rebelle Rally behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross assisted by hand controls with navigator Rachel Ridenour. Placing second in crossover class, Behrend became the first disabled driver to compete in the all women’s navigation rally. Now the first female with a disability to obtain her Sports Car Club of America license (SCCA), Behrend has set big goals to push new boundaries as a professional driver.
GETTING OUT THERE
We just like to get out there and go take the truck on the road, because I am in a wheelchair and can’t necessarily get through this stuff if I don’t have motorized access. It’s a lot of why we do what we do and the reason we push for responsible off-roading and overlanding. If you take care of your trails, they’ll take care of you, and more people like me can get out.
I’ve been driving about 3 years now and maybe have half a million miles with hand controls. Eventually it gets to a point where I don’t even think about what my hands are doing anymore, I just drive the road. Basically how this works, I steer one-handed, I use this little skinny pedal where my thumb is to control the gas, I use the big one at the bottom for the brake.
ADVICE TO OTHERS
If you find yourself needing hand controls someday, I want you to know that it’s not scary. It's definitely a skill you have to learn, so practice does make perfect. I’m still learning just like everybody else, just like anybody that uses pedals. It’s a skill, and being able to multitask with a bunch of different things with two limbs instead of four is a huge thing. You definitely have to practice. Get out off-roading, it’s good for you.
"I really enjoy knowing that no matter where I am, no matter what it is, I can change my tire, I can deflate my tires, and I can fix what I need to fix for the most part. I can’t really get everything, but it’s a good feeling actually being independent. "
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