A 44-year-old man from Southampton who was paralysed after being a passenger in a car crash, has become the latest member of Team BRIT.
Steve Crompton sustained life changing injuries in 1998 when he was in the back seat of a car that was hit by another vehicle and veered off the road after hitting black ice when trying to get away. Emergency services spent two hours extracting him from the car before he was rushed to Southampton for emergency treatment.
He was operated on, with metal put into his spine, and after two weeks he was transferred to Odstock Spinal Unit in Salisbury Hospital where he spent nine months working on his rehabilitation and recovery.
Steve explains, “For the whole two weeks I was in Southampton Hospital, I didn’t know the extent of my injuries. I was told I was in spinal shock and assumed I would regain the feeling in my legs. Once in Odstock, the spinal consultant said I had suffered a severe spinal cord injury and that I would never walk again.
“I was in my early 20s so it was a massive blow and something hard to deal with, but my main concern was actually whether I would still be able to drive. I later saw a paraplegic patient coming into the hospital for his check up, who had arrived by car, and I was instantly encouraged and knew that I’d be able to have my freedom back.”
After leaving hospital and setting up in a new home, Steve soon got back into his passion – driving. He converted a car with the adaptations he needed and had it shipped to America to take part in the Gumball Rally, driving from New York to Los Angeles. He went on to take part in the race 4 years in a row.
A regular gym-user, he concentrated on keeping up his fitness levels despite his disability and whilst at the gym he was encouraged to give wheelchair tennis a try. He has now played the sport for 10 years and it’s where he met fellow Southampton resident and Team BRIT driver Chris Overend who encouraged him to get in touch with the team.
Steve took part in a Team BRIT academy session at Silverstone this year and was instantly hooked. He explains: “Getting out on the track in a Team BRIT car was just incredible. I’ve always loved motorsport, from watching F1 with my grandparents and Le Mans every year with my dad, to go-karting and taking my own car on track days, I just loved it. The difference this time, was the technology the team has access to. I use adaptive controls on my road car, which means I have to take my hand off the steering wheel to apply the brake. Team BRIT’s hand controls are all located on the steering wheel, which means I have more control and we have no disadvantage against able-bodied drivers.”
Steve was invited to join the team following an assessment and took part in his first race on Sunday 21st August at Silverstone. He raced alongside new rookie Yvonne Houffelar in the 750 Motor Club Enduro Championship, driving a VW Scirocco fitted with the hand controls. Finishing 12th in their class and 26th overall, the pair were pleased and proud to finish their first race safely. Steve and Yvonne will race again at Anglesey Circuit on the 11th September and will join other Team BRIT drivers in a round of the Britcar Championship at Donington Park in October.
Steve is the third driver from Southampton to become part of the team, joining Chris Overend and Paul Fullick, who both compete in the Britcar Trophy. Chris has also recently stepped up a level to race in the British Endurance Championship.
Steve said: “Being a racing driver has been my lifetime dream since I was 6 years old. After my accident, I thought it was game over, and that the opportunities to compete in motorsport just wouldn’t be there.
“To finally have the chance to compete in the sport I love is just amazing. My ultimate dream is to be racing a GT3 car, so I want to continue to learn and improve with the team with the goal of joining them in Le Mans.”