Inspirational disabled women test the track with Team BRIT

A group of female disabled drivers have had a taste of racing on Britain’s most iconic race track, after a track day with Team BRIT.

The women, who all drive adapted road cars, were invited to test Team BRIT’s world-leading hand controls as part of an Academy Day at Silverstone.

Team BRIT is a competitive racing team of disabled drivers. It aims to be the first all-disabled team to race in the Le Mans 24 hour, and through its Racing Academy, it supports drivers with a range of physical and psychological challenges in accessing motorsport.

The team is yet to find a female driver to join its ranks and on Monday 30th September, four women tested out the team’s cars and learnt more about life as a racing driver. Testing on Monday were:

36-year old Nicki Donnelly from Birmingham. Nicki joined West Midlands Police when she was 18 years old, and when training within the Specialised Firearms Department in 2009, she was driving on duty when she was hit by a speeding car and was subsequently attacked. She sustained a host of serious injuries including spinal damage, and was paralysed from the chest down. From bravery honoured police officer and Pride of Britain-awarded, Nicki became a self-made businesswoman as a motivational speaker, life coach Psychologist, disability rights inclusion consultant, model, social media lifestyle influencer and ambassador to charities close to her and her daughter’s heart.

40-year-old Anna Turney from Leamington Spa. Anna sustained a spinal injury in a snowboarding accident when she was a competitive snowboarder. After three years of training to be a Paralympian, Anna came 6th in the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics. Four years later she won 6 World Cup medals for Great Britain and finished 4th, 6th and 8th in Britain’s most successful Winter Paralympic Team in the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Games.

49-year-old Lorraine Pooley from Crowborough in East Sussex.  Lorraine lost her right leg when she was hit by a motorcyclist in 1991.  She was just 21 at the time and had been engaged to her partner for less than 12 days.  Her fiancé died at the scene of the accident.  She took part in BBC 2’s ‘Beyond Boundaries’ in 2005 where, along with a group of 10 other disabled people, she walked from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

55-year-old Tracey Pahel from Coventry. Tracey was diagnosed with soft tissue cancer in the back of her thigh in 2004, then again in 2007 and 2009.  When she then found another lump, she elected to have the leg amputated as it was so heavily damaged.  Tracey attended one of Team BRIT’s first ever Academy track days this year and returned five times. She is now working as part of the Academy management team, acting as a host for guests at track days.  She hopes to race next year.

Each of the ladies spent time on the team’s simulator, fitted with the hand controls to let them get used to the technology before hitting the track.  They were then taken out for passenger rides in the team’s Volkswagen Polo before taking to the wheel themselves, supported by the team’s experienced instructors.

It is hoped that each of the ladies will return for further track sessions and consider trying out as new rookies for the 2020 season.

Team BRIT CEO and founder Dave Player said, “Women are hugely under-represented in motorsport, and disabled women even more so.  We’re working to level the playing field for disabled drivers, making it easier for anyone with a physical or psychological challenge to access the sport.

“We’re making huge progress, but we’re yet to have a female driver on our team and we want to change that.  It was fantastic to spend the day with the ladies on Monday, who each have incredible stories of overcoming their own physical challenges.

“They were fantastic out on track and thoroughly enjoyed the experience so we hope to find them the support they need so we can welcome them back into the driving seat very soon.”

Anyone who would like to learn more about driving with Team BRIT or who is interested in becoming a partner should email info@teambrit.co.uk

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