LAFAYETTE – The month of May brings out the spirit of racing in all of us. It’s that spirit within the racing community that helped carry a Morgan County teen through some of the toughest times of his life. #Lucas912Strong embodies it all.
"Honestly, I don't know where I'd be at without racing,” Lucas Grounds said. He will be the first to tell you racing is his whole life.
The 17-year-old started racing when he was three years old and it was not long after, he started racking up the wins.
He is a seven-time Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) elite racer. At 15, he signed a deal to go pro.
“The adrenaline rush from any type of racing it’s awesome,” Lucas Grounds said.
Two years ago, Grounds life changed forever, but it did not stop him from doing what he loves.
“Racing's put such a big impact on my life. It’s incredible and I really don’t know where I’d be without it,” Grounds said.
David Quillen, better known as DQ, met Grounds years ago and became his mechanic.
“There’s something about racing, you just have to do it,” DQ said.
The two often work on all go-karts, dirt bikes out of the back of Spyke's KTM and Husqvarna Motorcycles in Lafayette. Together, they have traveled around the country together on the racing circuit.
"Well, it should've been an easier swap than it was, but he's making some parts changes to make his go-kart faster because I beat him in the last race,” DQ said pointing to Grounds. The two are outfitting Grounds’ go-kart.
DQ is often by Grounds’ side, including the day of Grounds' accident. In December of 2020, the two were out riding with friends when Grounds slid out going through a covered bridge.
"The last thing I remember doing is pushing the bike away from me because it was heavy and I didn't want it to land on me,” Grounds said.
The accident left Grounds with severe spinal cord injuries from the waist down.
“Most people would take something like this and say maybe it’s time to slow down and I’ve probably done everything but slow down,” Grounds said.
Grounds spent 61 days at Riley Hospital for Children undergoing intense physical therapy. He continues therapy still five days a week with the goal of walking again.
DQ and Grounds agree almost immediately the racing community threw their support around the teenager. Family, friends and complete strangers showed their support from organizing fundraisers to showing up outside his hospital window.
"Everyone's been so involved from different types of racing,” DQ said.
Never racing again was not an option. Quickly the duo went to work, adapting bikes grounds could use by installing hand controls to steer, brake and speed up.
"I don't think it was much more than a week after he was out of the hospital that he was up here [Spyke's KTM],” DQ said.
In the months since the accident, Grounds hit the track again. Getting back on a dirt bike, though, is his goal. Come Saturday, he will be one step closer. He will compete in his first GNCC race since the accident in a three-hour ATV motorcross event.
"I wish I could say I'll be nervous, but I don't get nervous. I'll have a smile on my face,” Grounds said. He continued, "I'm just happy to back at the track."
DQ will compete in the event too. Seeing his friend racing again, DQ said, will be priceless.
"If he's going really fast, I'm just gonna try to race him and try to pass him, but if he's just moseying along, I'm probably going to have to kick him into gear a little bit,” DQ said.
Come mid-May, Grounds and his mom, Shanda will be heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch and join Ed Carpenter's team during practice.