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Quadriplegic racer demands track accessibility changes

Nathalie McGloin is the only quadriplegic woman racing professionally

Published: October 15, 2018, 10:30 PM
Updated: October 25, 2018, 2:52 AM

Nathalie McGloin with Porsche Cayman S racecar

Disabled racing driver Nathalie McGloin is calling for fundamental, widespread changes to make the sport more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities.

But McGloin’s words carry more than the usual disabled-person clout; she’s also the president of the international FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission; and, she’s the only quadriplegic woman racing professionally in motorsports (driving a Porsche Cayman S in the Porsche Club Championship).

Nathalie McGloin with Porsche Cayman S racecar

She wants that accessibility to spread from spectators at tracks through podium presentations, and every part of the racing weekend in between, including the people on the circuit. McGloin is calling for increased opportunities for disabled drivers, though more accessible competition licenses, and improving the attendance experience for spectators, officials, volunteers and drivers at racing circuits around the world.

“Working with the FIA, I am passionate about making motorsports for everyone,” said McGloin, who recently became the first disabled sportsperson to present a podium prize at the British Grand Prix. “With these campaigns, I’m recommending step-changes in the way venues accommodate and cater to disabled people, whether they are drivers, members of the audience or personnel at the race tracks. I look forward to seeing significant progress in accessibility over the coming months, and thank the entire FIA organisation for its support in helping to shape the future of motorsport.”

McGloin recently launched her “Accessible Podiums” campaign, which asks racing venues to invest in the infrastructure and services to allow competitors, spectators and support staff to attend events and navigate venues safely, free of accessibility impairments. The campaign demands increased seating and parking facilities, as well as online information resources.

There is also plans to implement an FIA Disabled Access certification and require all Formula 1, GP and Formula E venues to meet certification by the end of 2019.

Spinal Track Volkswagen GTI with hand controls

Together with partner Andrew Bayliss (managing director and rally driver), McGloin created Spinal Track, a charity that gives people with disabilities the opportunity to drive modified cars on the track. The program organizes track and parking lot days with Volkswagen Golf GTIs modified with racing suspension, roll-cages and hand controls. The duo is hoping to include rally-car-driving experience to the program over the coming year.