More threads by Retired


Here's a nice story about a man successfully dealing with his disorder - - TSOW

Race car driver Bobby Broking isn't letting Tourette syndrome get in his way on the track
Duluth News Tribune

HIBBING Raceway - An exciting race had Bobby Broking twitching.

A few minutes after finishing second in the Como Oil & Propane modified series opener at Hibbing Raceway, Broking's head repeatedly jerked to the right. His shoulders shrugged up and down. His arms flailed.

Broking is like any other dirt track driver.

He wants to win.

But he's also different.

Broking has Tourette syndrome.

"It's bad when you get excited," Broking, 33, of Grand Rapids said of the disorder. "It's the worst right before a race or after a race. I get movement from it. And I go in cycles. Sometimes I'll do this with my head (jerking his head to the side), or this (flailing) with my arm. Nerves kind of trigger it."

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that manifests itself with involuntary, rapid or sudden movements called "tics."

Some people, though not Broking, exhibit vocal outbursts.

An estimated 200,000 Americans have Tourette syndrome, according to the Tourette Syndrome Association.

A cause hasn't been determined, although abnormal metabolism of dopamine, a brain chemical, may be associated with the disorder.

There is no cure.

However, those with Tourette's can lead productive lives, and enjoy a normal life span.

Jim Eisenreich, a former Minnesota Twins baseball player, and Tim Howard, a goalkeeper for the United States men's national soccer team, are athletes with Tourette's.

"Every case of Tourette syndrome is different," said Tracy Colletti-Flynn, public relations manager for the New York-based Tourette Syndrome Association . "What we found is that when someone is focused, whether they're a race car driver or a concert pianist, it may not at that time be a challenge to them."

Broking, who drives a transport truck for Broking's Transport, a firm he co-owns with his father, John, was 8 years old when diagnosed.

"When we lived in North Dakota, a neighbor said he was always moving around, so we took him to a doctor," John Broking said. "But he wasn't a real bad case. The kids I'm sure teased him when he was in school, but he just played along with them."

When preparing to race, or excited following an event, Broking twitches.

But during a race, the disorder has never been an issue.

"When I'm in the car, I get such an adrenaline rush and I'm focused," Broking said. "But the other night (after the Como race) when I got out of the car, I was really going."

Broking drives his truck several thousand miles a week, delivering out-bound paper products manufactured in Grand Rapids.

On weekends, he competes at racetracks in Grand Rapids, Hibbing, or Proctor.

He's the current modified points leader at Grand Rapids Speedway and has been on a tear recently at Hibbing Raceway.

"He's a real racer -- a good driver and a fearless driver," said Bill Engelstad, president of the Iron Range Racing Association in Hibbing. "As far as I'm concerned he doesn't have any kind of a problem on the racetrack. I'm aware of his condition and to deal with it the way he does I think is great for him and his family."

Broking raced motocross motorcycles as a youth, winning the North Dakota state championship at age 12.

After moving back to Minnesota with his family, he started a dirt track career, competing in hobby stock, mini-mod, modified, and late model divisions.

"Things didn't go well for a long time," Broking said. "I wasn't afraid to hold it to the floor, but I wasn't much of a driver."

Since then, he's won a track championship at Grand Rapids, finished second several times in season points at Hibbing, and won a Labor Day Shootout feature at Hibbing.

Most race drivers are aware of Broking's disorder.

At times, some tease him in a good-natured way by "wiggling around," said Broking.

Broking says he wants to put his disorder "on the table," so race fans can get to know more about Tourette syndrome.

"To me, it's such a weird disease because if your shirt isn't on just right or your pants have a wrinkle in them, you kind of twitch to get them straightened out. I do it on the backstretch before I take the green flag," Broking said of his head jerking. "But once I take the green, I'm totally focused."

Medications are available to help control tics.

However, depression and sleepiness can be a side effect.

"I never took medication as a kid and I take nothing for it today," Broking said. "I'd rather be happy and jumpy than tired and depressed."

Broking's dream is to race his modified during Speedweeks at Daytona, Fla.

In the meantime, he's driving for a track championship at Grand Rapids and a solid showing in the eight-race Como Oil & Propane series.

Supported by his father, and brother-in-law, Neil O'Brien, of Cohasset, in the pits, Broking has consistently been running at the front of the field.

"Our season started out pretty decent, but we couldn't get a win," Broking said. "In the last two or three weeks, the car has been perfect. We've won our heat race in the last three or four events and finished second a couple times in the feature."

And as far as Broking's concerned, the more friends he has in racing, the better.

"I ain't going to let a little thing like that stop me for anything," Broking said. "If I'm around a big crowd of people who I don't know, it's worse, that's why I try to be friends with everybody. I'm just going to be myself."
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.