Former international model and stunt actress joins all-disabled racing team

A former international model, Muay Thai fighter, motocross racer and stunt woman has joined motorsport’s most inspirational racing team.

36-year-old Olivia Jackson from Buckinghamshire, has become one of the newest rookie drivers to join Team BRIT – a motor racing team looking to become the first ever all-disabled team to race in Le Mans.

The team, which to date has consisted of drivers who are ex or serving military troops, and who have each sustained serious injuries, has opened its doors to civilian disabled drivers and Olivia is amongst the first of these to join the team.

Formerly from Cape Town in South Africa, Olivia enjoyed a highly successful career, working all over the world as a model before becoming a stunt actress.  She took part in shoots for publications such as Cosmopolitan and worked on major films including the Avengers 2, Guardians of the Galaxy and Mad Max Fury Road.  Olivia was also a competitive Muay Thai fighter and motocross racer.

It was whilst working on a major film in September 2015 that she was involved in a horrific accident that changed her life forever.  Whilst riding a motorbike as part of a scene in Resident Evil, she collided with an oncoming camera crane that failed to lift in time.

She suffered severe injuries to her face, and her spine was broken in multiple places.  She was in a coma for three weeks and the effects of her injuries were life changing.  Her spine was knocked askew, and her entire top left quarter was paralysed, including her diaphragm, which makes it difficult to move and causes imbalance.

Her ribs, scapula and collarbone fused in the wrong direction whilst she was in a coma, so her left top quarter is painfully twisted.  Her left arm was completely paralysed and she eventually made the difficult decision to have it amputated.

Olivia is undergoing regular surgery and continues to receive treatment from an osteopath, acupuncturist and, endocrinologist for phantom nerve pain.

She continues to take part in martial arts and having learned about Team BRIT and its aims, she took part in the team’s first ever Rookie Day on August 21st, where she was assessed for her potential as a driver.

Olivia passed this stage and will now be working towards her required ARDS (Association of Racing Drivers School) licence which will enable her to race competitively.

The team is currently competing in the Fun Cup championship – the first stage of its motorsport journey towards Le Mans and recently completed ‘the Longest Race in the World’ at Circuit de Spa Francorchamps – a 25 hour endurance race.

The team has developed the world’s most advanced hand control technology to allow its drivers to compete on equal terms with able-bodied competitors.  These controls will be specially adapted for each driver, allowing drivers with varying disabilities, such as Olivia who has one arm, and double-leg amputee Andy Searle, to race as part of the same team.

The team is not a charity, but a competitive racing team like any other, with each driver being taught the business of motorsport.  Powerful partnerships are set up with corporate backers such as title sponsor Brit Insurance, and Olivia will be working to engage with personal sponsors to progress her driving career.

Olivia said: “I’m delighted to be part of Team BRIT. I really love the outlook the guys have about being disabled - they don’t let anything stop them, which is an ethos I definitely share.  I’ve always loved racing and I think it’s such a great way for people that have gone through so much trauma to feel alive again and be in the moment.

“I haven’t let my disability stop me from being fit and active – it’s so important to keep doing as much as one can. Being fit makes a person feel great from the inside and gives you a more positive outlook on life.  The challenge the team has set is huge and I’m excited to be part of this and to work towards changing the way people see disabled drivers."