As long as you can show you are competent and safe behind the wheel, there is no reason why you can’t compete in motorsport – whatever your disability.
Motorsport’s most famous disabled driver is Alex Zanardi, who has been a winner in the FIA World Touring Car Championship for BMW while driving with prosthetic legs. The former Indycar champion lost his legs in a racing accident in 2001, but was competing again two years later. In the UK, former British Touring Car Champion Win Percy, who suffered paralysis long after his professional racing career ended, still regularly competes in historic racing.
There are many other enthusiastic club level competitors, helped by the (BMSAD) British Motor Sports Association for the Disabled. This looks after the interests of, amongst others, amputees, insulin-controlled diabetics and those with paralysis, all of whom would have found it impossible to get a circuit racing competition licence just two decades ago.
The BMSAD runs an assessment programme, under which licence applicants attend a racing, stage rally or karting school to assess their competence and safety behind the wheel.
This includes a test to evaluate how quickly a driver can get out of their racing machine. BMSAD chairman David Butler, a triple amputee since the age of 11 and now a club racer, says: “It’s only reasonable to do that. We don’t want to risk the lives of marshals, who are fantastic people and would do anything to get a driver out in the event of an accident”.
“When Win Percy did the test, he threw the door open, shoved his legs out and rolled onto the ground. That’s fine – because once a driver’s done that they can be dealt with by the marshals.”
Butler, who set up the criteria for the Assessment Programme, adds: “Provided we know about it, we can ask a school for a written report on any driver as to whether they are competent and safe. Our panel is there to encourage people to go racing – not to try to stop them.”
Licence applicants will also need to see the BMSAD’s medical specialist, Peter Dorrington-Ward. Once he’s given the go ahead, there’s nothing further to stop you.
Butler, who competed on hill climbs, sprints and rallies for 30 years before finally gaining his licence to race at the age of 47, says: “Safety is the number one criteria. If successful, once an applicant has their licence, it proves they are able to race or rally, regardless of any disabilities, and that distinction is important because it means that they are covered by event insurance.”
You can get more details from Just Mobility.