Doug Henry stays positive; it's the only way he knows. With every excuse to give up, he calls the devastating episodes in his life "mishaps" and instead of letting them burden him he just rebuilds. His story is famous even to casual observers of American motorsports: the back injury from the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it motocross crash of 1995, the supermoto wreck that resulted in paralysis in March 2007, his wife's breast cancer diagnosis two weeks later and, most recently, on the day before Thanksgiving 2010, their Torrington, Conn., house fire.
Henry credits his parents for his manners. "My whole thing now is not looking at the things I don't have and only looking at the things I do have," he said. "You get pretty insane dwelling on the stuff you don't have," he says.
It would seem Winter X would be the furthest thing from his mind but, says Henry, with the timing, it's both a welcome distraction and a burden. He spends his days working with his wife to help their two children maintain as normal a life as possible, deal with insurance agents and figure out a plan for a permanent place to live. They haven't decided if they're going to rebuild on the same property.
Winter X is something Henry is unwilling to give up, even at the end of the first week of January, when he was still waiting for his snowmobile to arrive. Shipping issues delayed delivery through the holidays, and even on the day it was finally to arrive, he received a text message saying that the shipping truck had broken down. It would be another day. That's OK, Henry sighed. There wasn't any snow on the ground at the time anyway.
Henry was the only para-athlete in Adaptive SnoCross competition at Winter X 2010, and he earned a bronze medal. He has been working with a company in Torrington called Fab-U-This on designing a special seat that will allow him more movement. "The difference between a bike and a snowmobile is that a motorcycle leans so I don't need the seat to lean," he says. "On the snowmobile I have a seat where it leans from side to side so I'm able to shift my weight to the inside of the corner and back to center again. Fab-U-This is the same company that developed the roll cage for his dirt bike in the summer of 2009. Henry hopes to have the seat finished in time for Winter X, but he couldn't complete the design until the sled arrived.
In 2011, Henry will be joined by several para-athletes, but he's still shooting for top overall rider on his Yamaha Nitro. "Mike Schultz is going to be very difficult because he's a great rider and he's an amputee with a ton of racing and snowmobile experience," Henry says. While he might not be the fastest rider, if Henry can get close to Schultz's pace, he can use the pressure tactic to force a mistake.