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The world’s only female tetraplegic in motorsport

 Nathalie McGloin behind the wheel
Nathalie McGloin behind the wheel Image credit: nathaliemcgloin.com

The life-changing accident which Nathalie McGloin experienced didn’t put the brake on her passion with motor racing, in fact it accelerated it.

Despite breaking her spine as a passenger when she was a teenager fast things on four wheels have been at the forefront of her mind ever since.

Now the President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility commission encouraging disabled people to take up sport Natalie has passed the chequered flag to be the only female tetraplegic behind the wheel in motor racing.

And that wheel belongs to a Porsche 987 Cayman S. with radical hand controls which operates the brake and accelerator by pushing forward and down giving the car more power.

Nathalie competes in the Porsche Club Championship at the top club level and the highly competitive series, on top of that she also races in the New Millennium series organised by the Classic Sports Car Club.

She’s lapped all the prestigious circuits round the country such as Brands Hatch, Silverestone and Donnington. When Nathalie isn’t speeding round a track she is busy in her open-house garage meeting fans and posing for selfies.

In a recent interview with Autosport McGloin was asked about her mission to make disabled people take an interest into sport.

She said: ‘As a disabled driver that ambiguity of leaving my disability in the pits, if you like, when I'm in a racing car, is the reason I fell in love with the sport. It's the reason I get so much from it. A lot of disabled drivers will tell you the same; being in control of something so powerful, a racing car, on a racing circuit competing alongside predominantly able bodied men is huge.

I describe it as a freedom; I'm free to just do what I can in that car, to the best of my ability, in terms of my bravery, my skill level. My disability is completely irrelevant. And the reason I work so hard to try and make motorsport more accessible is because I want people to experience what I love about motorsport.’

Speaking about the road accident and how she ended up being a racing driver Nathalie said: ‘Yeah, it's a weird conflict, I guess. I really don't associate how I broke my neck in a road car with racing on a circuit purely because I was a passenger. I didn't have a driving licence when I was involved in that accident. So I think the lack of control from being a passenger and breaking my neck to having control of a car on a racing circuit, I don't struggle with the comparison. Paralysed from the chest down and becoming a tetraplegic, a lot of things were taken away from me.

But I found that 16 years after that, when I competed in my first race a lot of what I had been missing in life was given back to me. And it was it was mainly that feeling - the best way I can describe is like riding a bike with no hands when you're a kid. It's that ability to just be carefree and in the moment. And racing gives me that; I'm completely in control of those cars that I drive. I'm in control on the edge. The confidence, accepting my injury, the feeling of being accepted; it gave me so much back that I'll be forever grateful. I get so much from it every time I sit in a racing car.’

For more information put your foot down and speed off to Nathalie McGloin’s website.