June 18, 2020
(By Tyson Graves)
It will be an emotional moment Friday night as David Marlow puts on his helmet and straps into his Pro Late Model at Farmer City Raceway. It's been nearly three years since David was in a life threatening motorcycle accident. David sustained injuries that could have left him paralyzed or even worse dead. On September 24, 2017, the night after competing at Spoon River Speedway, David was struck on his motorcycle by another vehicle on Route 66 at Funks Grove.
David began his racing career back in 2015 in the Street Stock division before moving up to the Pro Late Model division in 2016. David's primary track to compete has always been the Farmer City Raceway in Farmer City, Illinois. A track where he has and continues to be a big supporter always lending a hand when needed to the track. Racing has always been a passion of his for as long as he can remember. David grew up watching NASCAR on TV, but it was during his Freshmen year of college that he went to his first dirt track race. It was that night he found his new passion and wanted to get behind the wheel of a race car.
That is when he met Brian Nettleton, he immediately became friends with Brian and told him all about his dreams to race. David jokingly remembers Brian telling him it would be the worst financial decision of this life. David admits he is not wrong, but it is worth every penny! In early 2015 David saw an ad for a race ready street stock for sale, he brought it home and things have never been the same since.
When asked about his biggest feat in racing David says many would say his B-Main win in 2017 in a Super Late Model race. He cherishes that night and the win but he thinks his biggest feat is his determination to never quit. One of his favorite parts of the racing experience is his interaction with the fans. His race team Marlow Motorsports is responsible for putting on several Fan Appreciation events at the Farmer City Raceway throughout the season. This includes free food off the grill and the time of hanging talking with fans.
David's no quit attitude was shown in 2016 when he hit the wall in hot laps and nearly called it a night. After running into a friend in the stands, his friend said "I came here to see you race." Not wanting to let his friend and his fans down, David scavenged the pit area and found all the parts he needed to fix his car and get it ready for the feature event. Realizing people came to see him race he knew going forward he needed to do everything possible to be on the track for his fans.
David's love for racing and being able to compete was suddenly put to a halt on that September night back in 2017. The accident left him with a long road to recovery. He broke seven ribs, three vertebrae in his neck, lacerated his spleen, broke the bone at the base of his skull and collapsed a lung. He also had some nerve damage that weakens his right arm and shoulder blade area. This accident left a lot of unknowns for David. He was forced to wear a neck brace for six months as it was a rare occurrence from someone to break the bone at the base of their skull. David spent many nights sleeping in a recliner due to struggling with vertigo for nine months. Over the past two years has endured lots of pain in his neck. Trips to the mental health counselor to help deal with the accident and visits for injections to deal with the pain has made the last two years a battle. But David is very thankful and considers himself lucky to be here and doing as well as he has.
After his accident the first question he asked his doctor was "When can I race again?" He initially thought during the off season before 2018 he would be ready to race. David did not know the extent of his injuries at that time. After a second opinion and healing not going as well as he expected he even began to question if he would ever be able to race again. This is where the visits to the mental health counselor paid off. David learned to deal with the uncertainties, prepare for the long road of recovery, and most importantly learned that it is alright to not be ok sometimes. He came to the realization that remaining involved in the sport of racing was a way to be still involved while he continued to heal.
David wasn't sure how his family would react to his wanting to race again. Their only plea was to be smart because they still wanted him around for a long time to come. David is sure there is something out there that might get him close to the same feeling racing gives him but he is not ready to give up on that chapter of his life. This led to the decision of putting his good friend Shawn Diggs behind the wheel of his car until he could drive again. He knew Shawn well and knew he would take care of the equipment. He drove the 2018 and 2019 season for Marlow Motorsports. It was hard and David remembers getting a little emotional the first time Shawn got behind the wheel knowing it should have been him. Shawn did very well for David being competitive in the points battle the past two seasons at Farmer City. David wishes they could have got a win together but understands in this class you compete against the best in the country week in and week out. Shawn and David both can say they learned a lot during the past two seasons.
This Friday night David will get back behind the wheel of the M14 machine. "You name it and I've felt it this week alone," David told us. "I've shed a few tears thinking about everything I have overcome and how thankful I am to have this opportunity again." There was a time when he thought he may never return to the track in the drivers seat. Friday night David is excited to do exactly what he loves to do most in life. "It may sound crazy, but there's nothing like turning laps in the car, it clears my mind." David admits that chasing your dreams isn't always easy, but it's worth it and he encourages everyone out there to find that thing your passionate about and go for it.
You know David, he would like to be behind the wheel for every event in 2020 but it is not realistic at this time. He plans to have a couple of drivers share the seat with him this season. Brother Terry Trost and friend Joey Zimmerman will share seat time with him. This will allow David time to evaluate his body and how it reacts after each race weekend. He told us, "I absolutely love racing, but my health will have to be a big part of my ability to continue doing so."
Before the accident David thought he was living a dream come true. That passion to get back behind the wheel was the driving force that motivated him to get to a place to drive again. During this time it has sunk in for David that he could loose his ability to drive forever. "I wish I could sit here today and say that I beat it and that I am 100%, but I know it is yet to determined and obstacles will lie ahead. I don't know how my body will react Friday night or how I will feel Saturday morning." David said. He claims to be just wanting to go out and enjoy the moment.
David wants to thank all his family, friends, crew, and sponsors for their support through all of this. As an after affect of his accident he has become a big advocate for spreading the awareness to #StartSeeingMotorcycles. There are too many accidents like David's that could be avoided if people took a little extra time, especially at intersections, to look twice and look carefully.
We are unsure how David Marlow will do Friday night at Farmer City Raceway. It is yet to be known, but one thing is already true to those who know David, he has already won the race in the hearts of those around him.
Personal Thanks from David:
I'm sure I'm going to miss a few people here and for that I'm sorry. First and foremost, the Skelton Family (Grace, Stacie, Rusty, & Clayton) & Barb Lay for getting me the medical help I needed when the accident occurred. My brother Terry and Sister in law Kate for allowing me to stay with them after my accident and continuing to help get me to and from work, doctors appointments, mowing my lawn and being two of my biggest supporters. Shawn Diggs for not only coming over to drive for me, but being a great mentor in this sport as well. Brian "Noodle" Nettleton for all the help and advice with the car. Jacob Smith for being my right hand man in this adventure. Jeannie Gebhardt for giving me a shop to work out of. So many friends who reached out to me and helped provide me food, groceries, or get me to and from places I needed to be. All of my doctors, nurses, & therapist for helping me mend. My Sponsors, LaTeaDa Tea Room & Gift Shop, Absolute Home Repair & Remodeling, Happy Nails, McDaniel Construction, Hooker Harness, Bloomington Meats, Tevoert Auto Repair, Heyworth American Legion, & Daniel Cowles with DRC Signs & Design's. My Family, Friends, & Fans for sticking with us through the good times and the bad. And last but not least, my guardian angels as I don't think I'd be here without them.