Ex-Military hope to be the first disabled driving team to enter Le Mans
23rd June 2017
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.
Le Mans is synonymous with racing elite and the crème de la crème of motorsports, and nothing less would do for the aspiring enthusiasts who are used to a competitive environment and are now looking for new challenges.
Team BRIT (British Racing Injured Troops) have taken on a serious challenge but have the will and grit to succeed. The team is made of a mix of serving and ex-military, who all sustained injuries, both mental and physical.
Technology is a great leveller and nowhere is this more apparent than when in the specially modified cars. New world leading hand controlled steering technology allows the BRIT team to compete against the able bodied drivers on a level playing field.
Le Mans is a test of endurance of both machine and driver, and though the BRIT team’s aspiration is to enter into the 2020 race, they have to pass other challenges first. They are currently in the midst of the Fun Cup UK Championships with recent successes at Oulton Park, where the team finished 15th.
The team consists of Tony Williams, a 32 year-old from Lancashire who was shot six times while serving as a medic in Afghan, Jimmy Hill a 34 year-old from Bournemouth who was shot five times in the leg and still serves in the Marines, based in Headley Court Military Rehabilitation Centre. Warren McKinlay , 35 from Braintree in Essex not only suffered a broken back and pelvis during a motorbike collision, but also has recovered from Cotard’s Syndrome. The youngest member of the team is Andy Searle at 24 from Torquay. Andy was only 19 and serving in Afghanistan when he was injured by an explosive device in which he lost both legs and part of his right hip. Andy told Devon Live in an interview:
““After my injuries, I never felt I would be able to compete in sport again. The nature of my disability means that it's difficult for me to drive usual racing cars as I struggle to hold myself upright. KartForce karts and the team BRIT cars are designed in a way that allows me to drive comfortably.
“The steering technology means that when I'm racing a team BRIT car I'm on the same level as every other driver. My disability is forgotten, it's just about driving ability.
“This is something I never thought I'd have the chance to do. Joining Team BRIT has given me a focus, something to challenge and inspire me, and something I can be proud of."
The alterations that have been necessary in their lives have been hard to adjust to, not only physio therapy but the additions to everyday life with facilities such as a new stairlifts and walk in showers. Kart Force, the driving power behind BRIT team and other activities, gives hope to troops after they have suffered significant injury and look to return to a competitive environment.
Image Credit: David Merrett