To feel the thrill of speed should be a human right! The UK has been the role model and pioneer in motor sports for disabled for a very long time. The “British Motor Sports Association for the Disabled” (BMSAD) claims that if you are competent and safe behind the steering wheel there shouldn´t be any obstacles to compete in motorsports, no matter what your handicap may be. This also applies outside of the car. All motorsport engages thousands of people volunteering, all with important roles to fill. It can be purely administrative shores in the secretariat, or safety controls at the race or other service functions. Motorsports should be available to everybody that holds the interest.
Competing with a disability
If there is an interest in motorsports, you should start with contacting your local club. In the UK there are as many as 750 stand-alone clubs and there are no medical demands to join one. If you want to go on and become active in motorsports as a disabled person, you need to apply for an MSA-license. BMSAD is the organisation preserving the interests of the disabled in the UK. Their work in the last two decades has been crucial for the disabled in motorsports. For people that are completely, or partially, paralyzed it was almost impossible to get a license to compete in the beginning of the 21st century.
If you apply for an MSA-license, you will go through a number of assessments to estimate your skills. How the tests are organized varies depending on the applicant. It can be competition scenarios, mapping school, Rallye or such. The test also includes evaluations on how fast the applicant can eject their car or other vehicle. In specific cases the applicant can, in their application, show how they rebuild their vehicles to make evacuation faster. Being able to evacuate a vehicle fast and secure is not only crucial for the competitors but also for the security surrounding the track and the people working there. The chairman of BMSAD (David Butler) who was competing at club level as a triple amputee since eleven, is one of the people putting up the criteria for the assessment programme, and the one urging the importance of fast evacuations. Fast evacuation is a must from the security point of view, for the rescuers to be able to take care of the driver. Besides having control of the security for the paralyzed drivers, it is all quality assured trough the MSA-license.
In all motorsport, security is the number one priority, it has always been and will always be. When the drivers get their MSA-license they have proved their capability to race, no matter their disability. From an insurance point of view, it is extra important since the license is the qualification for a racing insurance. Those who applied and got the license have seen several medical experts including a mandatory visit with the doctor and medical expert of BMSAD, Peter Dorrington-Ward. After he has given his final approval, nothing is stopping the paralyzed person from competing in motorsports. The protocol is a little different between countries and that is why it is a good first step to contact the central organisation in your country to get the right information on how to proceed. The protocol from the UK is however pioneering and most countries are expected to follow in their footsteps.