A 10-year-old from Ashurst who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was a year old, has spent the day learning about life as a disabled racing driver.
On Tuesday 1st June, Hadley Brisdion spent the day with Team BRIT, which aims to be the first ever all-disabled team to race in the Le Mans 24 hour. The team also runs a racing academy which supports people with physical and psychological challenges in accessing motorsport.
Hadley was born at 27 weeks’ gestation, spending 10 weeks in neo-natal intensive care. As a result of his prematurity he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, spastic quadriplegia, at the age of 1. Hadley is now a full-time wheelchair user.
Hadley’s mum Sarah posted on Twitter that she was looking for an adapted simulator for Hadley to experience G-force, following lessons on this at school. Leading simulator manufacturer and Team BRIT sponsor Vesaro responded, introducing her to Team BRIT and the team’s founder Dave Player got in touch to invite Hadley and his family along to meet the team.
Hadley visited the Team BRIT HQ in Dunsfold, Surrey, which is home to the Top Gear test track. He met drivers including GT4 driver Aaron Morgan who is a paraplegic and Bobby Trundley who was diagnosed with severe autism at a young age.
Hadley saw the team’s cars in action on the track and spent time on the Vesaro simulator, which is fitted with the team’s world leading hand controls. Dave and the team are now researching how to develop sim racing hand controls for people with cerebral palsy such as Hadley, who would benefit from bespoke controls suited to their needs.
Hadley’s mum Sarah explains, “What went from a conversation to find a simulator to support Hadley’s school work, progressed into one about Hadley’s love of gaming and motorsport. Dave thought he might be able to help give Hadley the experience we were looking for, as well as potentially help make him more competitive with his gaming by looking at how Hadley’s hands function and recommending some adaptions to equipment.
“Hadley’s fine motor skills are impacted by the tightness of his muscles. Whilst he is really good at gaming, competing against his friends at a certain level, gaming controllers are not designed for disabled users and can be very frustrating, especially racing games. Steering wheel set ups usually come with foot pedals which are not compatible with Hadley’s disability. Learning about adaptions that make gaming and motorsport inclusive and allow participants to compete on a level playing field is extremely exciting for us and Hadley.
“Hadley lives and breathes sport. He loves most competitive sports including football, rugby cricket, F1 and he plays wheelchair basketball for Hampshire Hornets. He follows F1 very closely and his favourite driver is Lewis Hamilton. His love of sport also transcends to Xbox – where he plays F1, Forza, Fifa, basketball, cricket – if it is a competitive sport, he will give it a go!”
Hadley said: “I loved going down to the Top Gear track and watching the drivers – they were so fast. I even got to sit in one of the cars! Meeting Aaron Morgan was great – he is a brilliant driver and he gave me lots of tips when I was having a go in the simulator. I am really looking forward to practicing my new racing game on my xBox now and using the advice that Aaron gave me. It was awesome watching Bobby Trundley have a go in the simulator. He beat the best YouTube sim driver in just one lap! He is so fast! Hopefully one day I will be as good as Aaron and Bobby! I can’t wait to watch TeamBrit at Silverstone later in the year – they are my new favourite race team!