THE world’s only female tetraplegic racing driver has her sights set on giving injured ex-servicemen and women a long-term career in motorsport, alongside disabled drivers.
In 2015 Nathalie McGloin became the first woman with a spinal injury to be granted a racing licence in the UK. Last year she became the first ever female disabled rally driver, and is president of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission.
Now she has joined the Eighty-One Racing Heroes programme: a ground-breaking initiative set up by Peter Knoflach, a Swiss racer and businessmen who met several injured veterans while skiing in his home village of Klosters.
Peter is the director of Eighty-One Power Drink, a new energy drink coming to the United Kingdom later this year, which will use motorsport as a platform to promote the unique Eighty-One Racing Heroes programme.
Nathalie said: “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as excited about a racing programme as I have about this one.
“When I met Peter, I knew straight away that his heart was in the right place, and he’s going to create some amazing opportunities for so many people who might otherwise not have had them, both in motorsport and in business.”
Peter said: “Nathalie’s own motto is that anything is possible, and that fits our message perfectly at Eighty-One Racing Heroes. As well as being an ideal ambassador for our programme, she is a very talented and determined racer, which is what we are about first and foremost.
“Porsche has confirmed a car for Nathalie in its new GT4 championship in the UK, and we’re working now to adapt it to her needs, thanks to our equally talented crew of ex-servicemen. Our goal is to create as many opportunities for as many people as we can, so we’re delighted to be off to a flying start already with Nathalie’s help.”
The veterans turned mechanics, engineers and logisticians are getting up to speed with a programme in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB this year, where they will be visiting some of Britain’s most famous circuits in a high-pressure race environment, as the delayed championship gets underway in August.
All of them will be working with front-running team Redline Racing, sponsored by Eighty-One Power Drink. When not racing, they will work within the company at its new headquarters near Silverstone.
The racing drivers will be following a different programme on a variety of races and championships this year. Nathalie will be competing on the Porsche Sprint Challenge GB, which runs alongside the Porsche Carrera Cup, in Eighty-One Racing Heroes colours.
Nathalie’s Porsche Cayman GT4, developed by the factory in Germany and run by Redline Racing in the UK, will be equipped with specially-created hand controls. Her long-time mechanic, James Webley, is an injured ex-serviceman who also forms part of the Eighty-One Racing Heroes programme.
Nathalie said: “I can’t wait to drive the Cayman GT4 this year: it’s exactly the right step up for me as I’ve been racing a Cayman already, but this is obviously at another level.”
The Eighty-One Racing Heroes programme has some ambitious goals that will ultimately lead the team towards the pinnacle of endurance racing.
Next year, the racers plan to compete on an international programme using two cars: with one female disabled racer paired with an able-bodied female driver, and another male disabled driver paired with an able-bodied male driver, so that they help each other.
The cars will be run and serviced by the injured veterans, with backing from the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, while a number of celebrities are shortly to be announced as brand ambassador.
As the team rises through the ranks, the ultimate goal is to take on the world’s most challenging race – the Le Mans 24 Hours – to prove that anything is possible.
Nathalie McGloin, the president of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission, has joined the Eighty-One Racing Heroes programme: a ground-breaking initiative that is designed