In 2019, Erik Roeffen lost his right arm in a work accident, which is why his racing career was set to be ended – But the Dutchman will return to the National Hotrods in 2021 in a modified car
Erik Roeffen lost his right arm in a work accident in 2019, which is why his racing career almost came to an end. The Dutchman picked himself up to fight his way back into the cockpit of his BMW Z4, which he races in the National Hotrods on the Autospeedway ovals in the Netherlands. With special permission to modify the car, Roeffen will make his comeback in 2021.
The Nederlandse Hot Rod Rijders Gemeenschap (NHRRG) and all other drivers have agreed to allow the Longhorn Racing Team to modify the car so Roeffen can steer it with just one arm. This includes a shift kit that allows the Dutchman to use a paddle to shift through the gears. The car is ready to go and just waiting to be put on the track for the start of the season.
Speaking to ‘Leadlap.net, Roeffen explains exactly what happened, “After losing my right arm, I quickly decided I wanted to drive again. That’s why I didn’t want to say goodbye to the Autospeedway sport.” Accordingly, Roeffen presented his idea to the promoters and the other drivers, who were in favor of a special permit.
Conversion a complete success
Then the car had to be modified. “The most difficult thing was to adapt the transmission,” Roeffen explained. “I need a paddle on the steering wheel, power steering and an alternator for power. That took a lot of learning, because I have to shift up and down with my left hand. Then we found Geartronic from the UK.”
When it came to power steering, the solution was based on the electric Opel Corsa. Roeffen also has the option of heavier and lighter steering adjustments. “Timms Autoteile picked out a lot of the things we needed and got them for us.” That puts Roeffen in a positive frame of mind to get back in the action in 2021.
But he doesn’t yet know how fast he can be with the modifications. “I haven’t really driven yet,” the Dutchman said. “We still have a few things to do before we can make the first meters. All I can say is that the project has been successful and I don’t want to just ride as a stopgap.”
Help from family, friends and competitors
Roeffen’s comeback would not have been possible without the support of the NHRRG and other drivers. “I would like to thank the driver of the NHRRG for their support. Also, without certain people and sponsors, none of this would have been possible.”
“My wife Melanie is very supportive and has been with me since the accident. Wil Kurvers has been my mechanic for more than 30 years. Pieter and Saskia, my main sponsor Steakhouse The Longhorn, as well as Camping Schloss Ooijen help me, as well as Timms Autoteile and Lack und Blech by Guido Wagner. I also thank Peter Diessen, Jeroen Kurvers and Jeffrey Roeffen.”
It is not yet clear when Roeffen will first compete in a National Hotrods race due to the current pandemic situation. The first races of the 2021 season have already been canceled due to the ongoing situation. As soon as a track opens its gates for the first time, the Dutchman can be expected in the red #12 BMW Z4.