Central Oregon Daily▶️ Our favorites of 2022: Remembering Prineville Wheelie Guy, 40 years later

▶️ Our favorites of 2022: Remembering Prineville Wheelie Guy, 40 years later

▶️ Our favorites of 2022: Remembering Prineville Wheelie Guy, 40 years later

▶️ Our favorites of 2022: Remembering Prineville Wheelie Guy, 40 years later

We at Central Oregon Daily News been thrilled to bring you the stories of the High Desert and beyond these past 12 months. We wanted to look back and not only re-share with you some of our favorites, but tell you why we love them so much.

“Sometimes the best stories come out of the blue. Relatives of “Wheelie Guy” showed up in our back parking lot one day with a weird story and a commemorative shirt. They said they knew this was the place to come because we tell this kind of story. So Steve Kaufmann did — Allen Schauffler, Central Oregon Daily News anchor and storyteller


A feat of strength.

“Your attitude, it’s going to make all the difference in the world.”

A crazy idea.

“I wanted to go down that hill and I knew I could do it.”

Maybe a little bit of both.

Whatever you want to call it, Pat Simpson pulled it off 40 years ago on Highway 126 west of Prineville. But before we get what “it” was, we have to learn more about the man.

“I was born in Prineville, July 4th, 1955.”

His family had moved to California. And 10-year-old Pat was being a 10-year-old.

“I was a brat as a kid. I was up in the tree collecting walnuts and I was waiting for the other kids to come bay and throw walnuts at them. The branch broke that I was on and — uhhh there we go, payback,” Pat says with a laugh.

Some tough karma.

“Crushed my spine at T9.”

He was admitted into a rehab program at Stanford Medical Center.

“They did rehab films of me and stuff, so on and off I was there two and half years.”

RELATED: Prineville man who walked 33 miles to work gifted car from total stranger


Five years after his fall, the family moved to Bend.

“Wherever we’d come and visit, it was always going down that hill was a big thing.”

A defining piece of Prineville geography — The hill. The grade. Whatever you call it. — defiantly defined Pat’s visits to grandma’s.

“Exploring, stuff like that so yeah that was our playground when I’d come visit.”

The childhood accident pushed him to attempt a stunt on his childhood stomping grounds.

“After I had my accident, you go down the hill it’s like ‘Boy, I gotta do that in the wheelchair.’”

Pat Simpson’s plan was in motion.

“Well it’s a lot better than going uphill!”

What if he could ride a wheelie down the hill into town?

“Everyone thought it was a crazy idea, and thought ‘I can do this. A you have to do is hold back the chair.’”

He trained with his pastor.

“He was a runner so, every night, we’d do O.B. Riley Road and we did that for months.”


“I didn’t really try any of the downhill stuff until I actually did it.”

The date was Friday, June 18, 1982. Ronald Reagan was president. “Ebony and Ivory” topped the music charts and “Dallas” was No. 1 on T.V.

And there was no shortage of fashion in Prineville.

“We show up and the hill is just orange with t-shirts and news crews and police. It was just a little overwhelming and everyone was there for me so it was like ‘Oh my god, this is a pretty big deal you better pull this off.’”

Yes, there was merchandise.

“I think it was about $3,500, which was pretty good for back then.”

With the help of the Women’s Council Of Relators, Pat’s feat turned fundraiser for the Easter Seal Society.

They also donated the 50-pound wheelchair.

“They insisted I wear the helmet. They had me with the knee pads.”

He rolled with a crew running alongside.

“Yeah just in case something happened.”

A two-mile ride.

“And it burnt through the gloves so my hands were getting toasty.”

Down a 12% grade.

“I got to the next to the last corner I didn’t know if we were going to make it or not,” Pat says. “By the time I got to the finish line, I was going pretty good speed.”

It took 19 minutes by some accounts. Plenty of praise awaited him at the post wheelie party on the courthouse lawn.”


“When I had my accident I was paralyzed from my neck down and it’s like ‘God, you give me my arms back, you’re not going to hear a peep out of me.’ And my arms came back and it’s like ‘I got this.’”

Pat Simpson got it.

“I’ve had an awesome life.”

Including that exciting day 40 years ago.

“I wanted to go down that hill and I knew I could do it.”

A day he’ll always remember.

“I think about it every time I go down the hill.”

And hopefully after hearing his story you will too.

Some pushed for Pat’s wheelie attempt to be documented in the Guinness Book of World Records, but a representative from the organization didn’t show.

Central Oregon Daily is Television in Central Oregon … on-air, on-line & on-the-go. We are KOHD – Central Oregon’s ABC, KBNZ – CBS for Central Oregon, and local programming on Central Oregon Daily, COTV and CO4 Visitors Network. We are storytellers of all that matters to Central Oregonians.

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