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The hero behind accessible track days

Nathalie McGloin next to her rally car
Nathalie McGloin next to her rally car Image credit: mirror.co.uk

The road crash Nathalie McGloin was involved in was almost fatal, suffering a broken neck and paralysed from the neck down you would think she would be put off with any anything on wheels for life.

However the injury which she almost died in as a teenager has made her more determined to exceed in rally driving.

McGloin is the only female tetraplegic racing driver in the world and the first pass the finish line when it comes to driving off with the British Association of Rally Schools exam as well as being the first woman with a spinal injury competing in the MSN Circuit Rally Championship which took place at Donnington earlier this year.

Acknowledging a gap in the market for disabled drivers who want to experience track days Nathalie and her partner Andrew Bayliss are now offering free drives for petrol-heads with disabilities at the Bill Gwynne Rally School, Turweston Aerodrome in Buckinghamshire behind the wheels of hand-controlled VW Golf GTI and Toyota GT86 models.

Natalie told Mirror Online: “Disabled should never mean ‘unable’. With the development of hand-controlled cars, disabled drivers have taken back their own independence along with the steering wheel.

"I love racing because nothing else matters about the person who is driving the car other than where they finish over the line when the flag is dropped. Gender, disability, race, religion, none of it matters. All that matters is your skill and your driving capacity. I think that it's one of the only sports that offers that."  

Nathalie first love was rugby, she was part off the Team GB’s wheelchair team but after car accident her time on the field was over.

Knowing how much sport meant to her Andrew bought Nathalie a track car in 2015 and she hasn’t looked back since.

"You know, I'm disabled, I'm female, I go out and I compete against able-bodied men, and females sometimes. But I'm hoping that they can see that by the fact that I am in a wheelchair, that motorsport isn't that scary,” McGloin explained.

“Lots of people contacted me and said they loved what I was doing. I realised that very few people were able to share the same opportunity. I sat down and thought ‘let’s make it happen.’

“This lets them come along and push their boundaries and build confidence. The point of the charity is not about finding the next Lewis Hamilton, it is about giving people an opportunity to do something they have never done before. It is about believing that anything is possible, because after you have done a Spinal Track day, you’ll really believe that.

“One guy said to me it was the second best day of his life, after his wedding day. Another chap came along with MS. His daughter wrote to me and said he had a totally renewed energy after spending the day with us. That was brilliant to hear.”

She added: “When you see the drivers get out of the car, and you see them smile, I recognise all their emotions. It makes it all worthwhile.”

For more information visit the Spinal Track website.