We never know when our lives might be changed forever in an instant. Cars are great machines for many reasons but they also can be very deadly.
There is a member of the Nature Coast Mustang club who has an incredible life story and love of cars, particularly Mustangs. He also has a great positive attitude after experiencing a traumatic event that would destroy most of us.
Brian Fowler, who is currently the Vice President of the club, had a life changing car accident over 18 years ago. He was involved in a very serious early morning crash in which his car caught fire and burned a significant portion of his lower body. He then spent 6 1⁄2 months in the hospital fighting infections and recovering from very serious burn injuries.
Brian lost his entire right leg and had severe burns on his left leg and other parts of his body. He had numerous painful skin graft surgeries and lots of physical therapy. He was grateful that he had his family and friends there to support him during his recovery.
Brian still has to deal with the residual effects of the injuries, mostly skin related, and some internal issues. He also has some issues with strength, endurance and gravity as his crutches can slip on the most inopportune occasions, although I must say that he handles those crutches very well and I think he can outrun me.
Brian is originally from Florida, has moved around a bit as an Air Force brat and has been a “petrol head” as long as he can remember, playing with Hot Wheels cars and building car models as a kid. He still builds model cars today. He has a lightly modified 2008 Mustang which he doesn’t consider a “show car,” although it is a beautiful car. It’s his daily driver but he usually keeps it clean and looking good.
Brian has worked on his own cars since he first started driving. As a high school kid flipping burgers, paying a repair shop was out of the question so he had to learn to fix things himself. He still does as much of the work on his car as physically possible and does a great job getting the car ready for cruise-ins and shows.
He has only recently started showing his car. At a show where there were over 300 participants, he won second place in his class, which is a difficult feat since there were so many cars in his class. When he went up to accepted his award, he was beaming with a huge smile and the crowd was cheering for him, more than for any of the other winners because most of us knew it took him much more effort to get his car in “show clean” condition than the rest of us.
Brian has such a great attitude and sense of humor dealing with his handicap. He often jokes about two-legged people and even his email address contains a bit of humor as he tagged himself “monoped.” Brian is truly a courageous person and a real car enthusiast.
July 25: All American Muscle Night cruise-in at 6 p.m. hosted by Nature Coast Mustangs at Arby’s on U.S. 19 in Crystal River. All years, makes and models of cars and trucks are invited to attend.
Ken McNally is a car enthusiast from Citrus County and his Car Corner columns appear twice a month in the Hernando Today. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (352) 341-1165.