Insight: Meet the most courageous woman in motorsports
Innovation
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jun 2018   |  8:08 am GMT  |  20 comments

Our sport is unique in many ways.

But one of the most compelling is the the fact that once a person is in a racing car, the outside world cannot tell their gender, colour or physicality; disabled drivers can compete alongside able bodied athletes, women against men.

Billy Monger lost his legs in an F4 accident, but less than a year later he is competing in a more powerful F3 car and getting on the podium.

One of the most powerful – and moving – voices at the FIA Sport Conference in Manila this week was Nathalie McGloin, who was paralysed in a road accident as a teenager and who now races a hand-controlled Cayman S in the UK Porsche Club Championship.

Her story is remarkable; a car took away her right to a ‘normal’ life, her ability to walk and run. But in a powerful act of redemption it is a car that has given her back her independence and empowered her.

No other sport can do that.

Rugby players paralysed in a collapsed scrum can return to wheelchair rugby, but it is far from being the same game.

Clay Regazzoni, Alex Zanardi and more recently Monger have all proved motorsport’s unique quality in this regard.

McGloin is now the president of the FIA Disability and accessibility commission and she spoke in a panel in Manila about the way the sport is opening up the funnel for disabled drivers in particular.

“Cars are naturally accessible to people with disabilities because of the way the controls can be adapted,” she said.

“We need to start promoting motor sport to people who are born with disabilities,” she said. “I’m looking at the inspiration of the ‘Girls on Track’ initiative and how something like that could be used to try and promote motor sport to everyone with disabilities – and make sure that people realise that this is for all of us.

“It’s really important that the ASNs (national sporting federations) promote and facilitate disabled drivers by putting in place a licencing process to make sure that there is a safe and fair way of assessing whether people with disabilities are eligible for motor sport.”

Click HERE find out more about Nathalie’s work and her Spinal Track charity initiative.

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1

One thing that wasn’t mentioned is how many disabled people enjoy sim racing at a high level, there’s loads in the iRacing community for example and how many little companies have cropped up to provide custom SimRacing controls for those with a disability.

2

What do you guys think of Billy Monger, in terms of his goal to actually compete in F1?

You think it will happen?

He appears to take things really well when he is featured on TV pieces. But he’s 19, in F3, and I personally don’t see how he gets an F1 seat.

A test? A merketing/publicity stunt? Likely. But I don’t see an F1 team have the balls to give the guy a fair go, considering all the development his car would require and all the drivers available who don’t require it. Also, what if something were to happen on a car Billy is driving due to his limitations? Can a team really absorb those potential liabilities?

Billy had paid a high price. I don’t see an exit. I think for Billy, he should go after LeMans overall win. I think there is a rear possibility there for success and his dream to be realized. F1 is too selfish.

3

…maybe that word was a bit harsh….selfish. So many people on a team now, they just wouldn’t do all that for a disabled driver bringing no financial support to pay for it all.

4

This story got me thinking about something.

I believe I read somewhere recently that Nissan is working on technology where the car basically reads the “mind inputs”’ of the driver – driving hands free, but controlling the car with your brain.

So, if that actually happens….how do people feel about Motorsport based on that kind of technology? A driver still in the car, but making all the inputs with their mind, no hands, no feet.

I’ve never really thought about it before, so don’t really have an opinion myself. I’m just curious what others think. Would it be a good thing, allowing more precise control of the car? Would be be a bad thing, diminishing some of the physical challange of piloting a racecar?

5

The delay in thought-to-action in this system will likely be too slow, and margin of error too great.

And automated driving is already here. Some teething problems to address. I bet you it gets deployed on wide scale next year.

6

“The delay in thought-to-action in this system will likely be too slow”

Based on?

Wireless controllers were a bit slow back in the day, true, but my the one on my PS4 works just fine, so if they can actually get it to work the way Twitch describes then it should be a simple case of think it / do it, and it might even be faster.

For example:

I need to brake and turn here, and now the car is slowing down and turning into the corner.

As opposed to:

I need to brake and turn here, there goes the signal from my brain to my limbs, and now they’re moving the wheel and pressing the pedal, and now the car is slowing down and turning into the corner.

I might be splitting hairs, but the potential is there…again, assuming they can actually get it to work 🙂

Regardless, good thought Twitch 🙂

7

That independence you speak about Random is a promise autonomous cars hold.

Speed increase/decrease could be mapped to a spot you look at. But again, response reliability and speed would likely be an issue.

8

I’ve seen systems that try to do this in terms if analyzing brain patrerns. To me it looks like the delay is significant and precision of input is not there. I’ve seen it as an input device.

Better method would be eye location. Having a system pick out where you are looking and take you there. Quicker and more precise. Those eye position systems tend to work well, but I’ve not seen it applied to mobility. I’m sure it has been tried by now though.

9

@Matthew

Not to worry, there are some drivers out there who do that mirror / weave thing already 😉

10

Matthew, a system could easily map mirror spots to not respond to steering input commands.

But you’re right, this would not be practical for a variable speed device probably. More useful for a fixed speed wheelchair perhaps.

11

I can’t see eye location being a practical use. The eyes are moving all the time. What happens when a driver checks their mirrors, for instance? The car would weave.

12

Again Sebee, it’s still relatively new tech and to be fair the delayed response is only an issue if they can get it to work in the first place (and honestly I’m a bit dubious that they will) but even then why should it be an issue for normal road users?

You’ve made it subtlety known that you’re a fan of autonomous cars and you should know by now that I’m less of a fan, but can you picture a future where someone who has suffered a physical disability can get into a car and think “take me to the shop”?

Sure it might clunk to itself for a second or two, but I imagine most could live with it to have that kind of independence 🙂

As for the eye thing sure, you could “point” to where you want to go with your eyes, but then how would you tell it to speed up or slow down?

Not criticising you there Sebee, just looking for creative answer which I know you can supply 🙂

13

This article just goes to show that motor sport is open to everyone.

It is one of the few things in the world that doesn’t discriminate in some way.

Good luck to you Nathalie.

14

Open to everyone with a boatload of money, that is…

15

I think you mean yachtload 😉

16

Well done to all.

17

Amazing🎗🎖🏆

A True Sporting Hero.👍

Hats off to you Nathalie McGloin,

Exceptional Bravery🤺

Billy Monger is also up there.

Fighters that don’t see limitations and overcome.

18

Brilliant!

“…and then I started to focus on my strengths, rather than my weaknesses.”

Wisdom born out of adversity, reaching beyond disability.

19

A story from the other end of the racing ladder.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uI_bqciaa8Q

20

watching him get out of the kart brought a tear to my eye.

definitely a champion already

thanks for putting that link up

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