MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

January 6, 2013

Gift puts racer back on track

He’s fought health problems since childhood

— The story of Shane Weeks alternates between happy moments and tragic moments.

At age 3, Shane received a go-cart, and he raced it along a homemade track at his parents’ house. He’d happily zip through trees in the go-cart, which his father, Bruce Weeks, had modified to fit his tiny body.

Just five years later, Shane was found to have a brain tumor.  

“We had to go to Texas for surgery and then Tulsa for chemotherapy,” Bruce Weeks said. “It was a two-year-long ordeal.”

He said his son was paralyzed after the surgery, and it took five extra procedures to uncross his eyes, which had become crossed as a result of the tumor’s removal.

“Time goes by, and he gets stronger — he weighed about 50 pounds after the chemotherapy and surgeries — and about two years later he’s like, ‘Daddy, I think I’m ready to race,’” Bruce Weeks said. “So we put a little car together for him.”

Racing is something Bruce Weeks knows plenty about. He began racing in 1990, and has raced in tracks across the state and nation.

Tragedy struck again last summer, when Shane was found to have thyroid cancer.

“When they did the first surgery, the surgeon came out and said, ‘I removed the whole tumor, but Shane won’t be able to speak because I had to cut his vocal cords,’” Bruce Weeks said. “So, of course, we just hit the floor. I mean, how much can Shane have to go through?”

However, Shane could whisper — which astounded the surgeon, Bruce Weeks said  — and just a few months later, Shane was able to speak loudly and clearly.

Shane said he’s getting healthier and stronger every day, but his improved condition isn’t the only surprise he got to end 2012.

In November, Shane was surprised with his very own new race car, cobbled from various parts in less than two months.

Shane, a refrigeration and air-conditioning student at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee, apprenticed during the summer with two brothers, Alex and Evan Sewell at Sewell Mechanical Inc. in Tulsa.

“(Shane) had talked about wanting to drive a car like we were racing,” Evan Sewell said. “There was a lot of work to do to get it together. We were all so excited, we just wanted to tell him but we had to keep it a secret.”

Shane was surprised with the car during a banquet at a Tulsa hotel. He was told the party was for his namesake, Shane Stewart, a racer his father was friends with and someone whom Shane considered an idol.

“I was just speechless, speechless,” Shane said. “I was just in shock. I couldn’t believe it.”

Shane ran his first race in the car last weekend at the Tulsa Shootout, an indoor event at the Tulsa Expo Center.

“When I went out there for practice, my heart was pounding so hard, it was hard for me to breathe,” he said. “But once I sat in the car, everything went away.”

Shane finished in 11th place out of 23 drivers in the midget class, a class of larger vehicles than he’s used to driving.

“The doctors had told me, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that,’” Shane said. “They had a whole list of things I’d never be able to do, but I didn’t let it slow me down.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

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