20th June 2022 | Lieutenancy News

Surrey – the UK hub of disability motorsport

I recently had the privilege of visiting the home of one of the most pioneering motorsport organisations which is based right here in Surrey.

Britain has led in motorsport for many years and Surrey has played a key role in this. Being home to Brooklands, which opened in 1907, this was the world’s first purpose-built ‘banked’ motor racing circuit,, as well as one of Britain’s first airfields.

What many people don’t know, is that we also lead the way when it comes to disability motorsport, and right now, Team BRIT, which has its HQ at Dunsfold Aerodrome near Cranleigh, is taking this further than anyone ever has before.

The team  has developed the world’s most advanced hand controls to enable disabled drivers to compete on equal terms. The aim is to become the first ever all-disabled team to take part in the Le Mans 24-hour race.

This month, I had the pleasure of visiting their base at Dunsfold near Cranleigh and learnt more about this technology, the team’s story, its drivers and its aspirations, when I had a tour of its HQ.   which also happens to be at the home of the Top Gear Test Track. I had the opportunity of using their top of the range racing simulator, which is fitted with the hand controls. Before having a tour of the workshop and cars, and a spin around the track in its Academy car in the pouring rain.  Which made the ride even more exciting!  Skilfully driven by Paul Fullick, who had part of his leg amputated after a motorbike accident last year. Anji Silva-Vadgama also joined the team last year and has multiple sclerosis, and Aaron Morgan, a paraplegic following a motocross accident.

Team BRIT is a part of a history of many determined British change makers. From Archie Scott-Brown, motorsport’s first disabled hero, the late Sir Frank Williams, a tetraplegic after a road accident who went on to establish Frank Williams Racing Cars and later Williams Grand Prix Engineering, to Marc Haynes, the first paraplegic to obtain a racing licence from the RAC Motor Sports Association, who went on to establish the GT Cup and the iconic ‘Haynes manuals’, and David Butler MBE, who lobbied for changes to the licensing process for disabled drivers which remain in place today.

These are all incredibly influential people who have each played a part in the history of disability motorsport. Team BRIT has now picked up this baton, and I am incredibly impressed with the fantastic impact they are making, from right here in Surrey.

Michael More-Molyneux

Lord- Lieutenant

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