As ofﬁcial media partner to this year’s Mobility Roadshow we were invited to chat with one of the star guests at the event, racing driver, Nic Hamilton
How are you enjoying the Mobility Roadshow? Yeah it’s good; the sun’s out, it’s really nice to meet some new faces, and I’ve seen some fantastic products. It shows how much help is out there to make peoples’ lives easier and better, that’s a really nice thing.
Can you tell me about your modiﬁed touring car? Although it’s an Audi S3, I’m sure you wouldn’t see one on the stands, even at Mobility Roadshow.
Yeah, we’re really, really lucky. We haven’t really modiﬁed the car too much; it’s just making the pedals, the accelerator and brake a little bit wider. I do use my legs and then we use a hand clutch. So instead of using a foot clutch we have taken it out so now the car only has two pedals instead of three, just to make my life a little bit easier with the clutch. I think other than that, it’s pretty normal so anybody can get in and drive it which is great.
It’s interesting that you say ‘anybody’, because you’re competing in the British Touring Car Championship proper, not a parasport equivalent? It’s the real deal with able bodied drivers and yourself… How’s that been?
The important thing, for me, is that it isn’t a parasport, I’m racing against able bodied people. I’m making sure my body is in shape, my legs are in shape, and my condition is (at its) best for me. The response has been fantastic. I know that there is support out there. It’s great to see so many disabled people out there coming to race and able bodied people being inspired by it as well. It’s been pretty mega, so yeah, really happy to be helping people.
With that in mind, does that prove, by extension, that disabled people can take on anything?
Deﬁnitely, yeah. We’re in the twenty-ﬁrst century, there’s so many new products coming out, so many more with improved technology; anything is possible. I’m just one of many people with stories and with the ability to do certain things. So I’ve definitely enjoyed looking around today. You actually see how much technology is out there and what is possible. It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s very easy to get going if you apply the correct mindset and positivity to it.
I know that you have cerebral palsy. Racing is about instinct and quick reflex. How have you managed to adapt around those issues?
With motorsport everything is down to the tenth of a second, so you’ve got to make sure you can react very quickly, accelerate, brake and steer and all that sort of stuff. The most important thing for me was to adapt the car and make sure the adaptions worked correctly with me and minimise the difficulties of using my legs. So I’m at a stage now where I can fit in my car and know that I don’t have any disadvantages because I have adapted the car to suit my legs. So it’s just a trial and error thing and you learn as you go along. When I first started it was quite difficult but by now I know what I need, I know what works and what doesn’t. So when you go to a new car and you have to start adapting, you know exactly what you need.
So is motorsport potentially the next big thing for disabled people to break into, not least because it gives them an opportunity to showcase their talents at the very top end of things against able bodied people, as you do?
You never know. The thing with motorsport is that it can be very expensive to break into. It’s not like buying a pair of swimming trunks and going swimming. The opportunity is there, so anybody has the ability to break into the sport; it’s always possible. There are so many hand controls out there and loads of adaptations you can make to the car. The sport itself is hard for anybody.
What are your ambitions in the sport?
At the moment I’m happy where I am, I don’t know where I’m going to be in the next five years. I’m just taking every step and every year as it comes and seeing what’s around the corner. I’m going to keep pushing to see where I end up.
That’s a very Formula 1 type of answer… I know your brother (Lewis Hamilton) is in a completely different discipline but do you share advice with each other?
Every now and then yeah, but every driver is different. They have their own techniques and ways of doing things. You’ve just got to find what works for you and then get a little bit of help along the way. We try to help each other as much as we can.
“It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s very easy to get going if you apply the correct mindset and positivity to it.”